As the days are warming up and summer is getting closer by the hour I feel my Fernweh is getting stronger and stronger! In the summer months I am always craving adventure, even if it means only a quick day trip or a weekend getaway to a nearby destination!
For anyone who lives in Toronto or the surrounding area, we have all grown up with memories of going with our family to Niagara falls, or perhaps if you’re not from the area, Niagara falls is what you think of first when you imagine visiting Canada. Well folks, I have to say that when I recently went to Niagara it was a totally different and brand spanking new experience than I ever had before! There is absolutely nothing wrong with the traditional version of visiting Niagara, like taking some calculated risks at a Casino or perhaps little tour through Ripley’s; but there are some epic things happening in the culinary world in this region to discover! Here is a little recap of my delicious favorites from my day in Niagara Parks.
To start off, I feel like I really need to chat about Feast ON certification! I didn’t even know this was a thing! Essentially, being Feast ON certified shows that the restaurant gets their food and drink from Ontario whenever possible. This is HUGE for re-investment in the area as well as cooking with local treasures!
Okay, shall we dive into the restaurants who happen to all be FEAST ON certified???
We kicked off our day at this gorgeous country club restaurant which has a beautiful golf course if you’re ready to play! We were all extremely hungry and ready to dive in! The Inniskillin Pinot Grigio was the perfect start to the day. If you are a ‘wino‘ like me you want to have some solid options for a cool, summer sippin’ wine; welp, this is it! It was so fresh and easy to drink. As soon as we sat down we got a glass of that and a delicious salad of Lake Erie Perch. I was hoping it wasn’t going to be too ‘fishy’ and I was not disappointed! The fish was cooked to perfection and laid atop a delicate bed of greens.
My FAV part? Those crispy onions!!! It was like eating elevated onion rings and not feeling guilty at all 🙂 I almost asked to take some for the road . . . 🙂
Next on deck was a fizzy Oast Barnraiser Ale to pair with crusted scallops! These were soooooo yummy! To top this off guys, I don’t know if you have visited this restaurant but the view was EPIC! It was as though we had the best seats in the house to see the falls. I imagine that a nightcap at Queen Victoria Place would be an excellent idea, you could watch the light show whilst enjoying a cool beverage 🙂 Okay, okay, back to the food, the scallops also had this insane corn salsa to go with it, I loved the summer BBQ inspo that the dish had, it really made me feel like I could lounge around and chill the rest of the day.
After Queen Victoria place we drove for awhile into another beautifully scenic area of then region. Whirlpool restaurant is a bright and airy place where we were served a set of soup and salad. The soup was a pairing of sweet potato and yukon gold and the salad; a delectable beet and carrot slaw. To top if off, it came with nice and crunchy kale chips and a glass of unoaked Chardonnay from Chateau des Charmes. Those kale chips . . . my goodness were they good! I love kale chips but only when seasoned right and superbly crunchy, and these fit that bill! Whirlpool also happens to be the name of the Aero Car in Niagara and have two other attractions for the adventuresome; a zip line over the falls and a high ropes course that I plan to check out later in the summer!
This restaurant should definitely be remembered for the view and amazing scenery. When we arrived we instantly all took out our cameras to capture the park setting by the entrance. As we walked inside the vintage building we were struck again, the large windows in then dining room expanded over a beautiful view of the Niagara river, winding past various vineyards. Let’s just say the view put us in a great mood to dive into the Chimichurri flank steak salad! It was beautifully marinated and paired with a bold glass of Reif Estates Cab. Sauv. I would highly suggest this restaurant for a wedding. Apparently they are very often booked for receptions of all kinds, which I totally understand! The beautiful view outside is perfect for photos and the intimate but spacious dining area seems ideal for dinner and a dance!
The last restaurant we went to was Elements, which overlooks Niagara falls. I felt so close to the rushing water it was amazing! The lamb dish we were served had two components; a sirloin and a sausage. Guys, this sirloin was served on a rock that was hand-selected from the Niagara waterbed, then baked in the over for 6 HOURS!!!! By placing the sirloin on the rock, it kept the food HOT HOT HOT and coaxed out all the flavorful juices of the meat. We had a Colaneri Corposo to go with this and finished with a delicate maple tart and cranberry gelato! You might be thinking we didn’t have a wine pairing with dessert, but OF COURSE WE DID! Ice wine is practically the name sake of the Niagara region so we finished with a Inniskinllin Vidal Ice Wine.
A fun trick that I learned a long time ago was if you buy an ice wine that you ADORE you can make it go further by adding a touch of it to a glass of bubbly to act as a flavor agent 🙂 . . . Look at me with these wine tips! . . .
After having this EPIC day in Niagara I feel inspired to go back! Did I mention we also got a little tour of the new adventure parks ??? It literally was like an adult playground, although they do have a section for the kiddies as well 🙂 I am thinking next time I HAVE to try that zip-line and celebrate my fearlessness with a chilled glass of vino at the end of it all.
Have you been to any of these restaurants yet? What do you think your favorite dish will be? Feel free to reach out with any comments/questions about visiting the area and I would be happy to help 🙂 I think it is time you start planning a summer getaway, why not kick it off with some AMAZING food and wine???