Friday, April 29, 2011

A Maple Syrup Tour in Stratford

Thanks to Suresh (@spotlightcity) from Spotlight Toronto and Emily (@Emily_Chandler) from Stratford Tourism Alliance, I was invited to a Maple Syrup day tour in Stratford with a group of food bloggers around a month ago (yes I know this post is way over due >_<). I went to Stratford last year for a Stratford Culinary Tour and had an amazing time so I was looking forward to this Maple Syrup tour (my Stratford Culinary Tour posts can be found here). And as I expected, it was an extremely fun-filled day. On that Saturday, I left the busy, bustling city behind me and enjoyed a day full of activities, all planned by Emily, and while munching on tasty food, I also learned a lot more about Stratford and its local restaurants and farms, and most importantly, I learned a lot more about Maple Syrup.

Our first stop in the morning was at Revel Caffe where owner, Anne Campion, gave us a brief introduction about Revel Caffe and its direct and fair-trade coffee. Besides regular coffee, Revel Caffe also serve a wide variety of beverages including cappuccinos, lattes, espresso, French Press, americanos, teas from Straford Tea Leaves, and Italians sodas in the summer. Pastries is another speciality at Revel Caffe and they are all baked on site. While sipping cappuccinos, we were all served mini maple pecan schnecken (a traditional Saturday morning treat in Germany) made by their in-house Chef Jordan Lassaline. What a great way to start the day =D

Revel Caffe: 50 Wellington Street, Stratford, ON. N5A 2L2. Ph: 519-305-1600 - Email: - Web: - Twitter: @revelcaffe

After the cappuccinos and delicious schneckens, we were off to McCully's Hill FarmMcCully's Hill Farm has been around for 160 years (!) and specializes in the production of maple products, natural meats, home-made baking and preserves, and garden fresh produce. Once you walk into McCully's Hill Farm, you will see endless jars of maple syrup, honey, jams, jellies, pickles and relishes. McCully's Hill Farm also carry naturally raised meats, fresh homemade pies, and maple tarts. So in short, a lot of good, local foods.

After browsing around for a bit it was maple tasting time! We were greeted with the following goodies:

- Maple Pork Farmers Sausage
- Maple BBQ Pork Ribs
- Maple Beet Pickles
- Maple Fruit Chili Sauce
- Maple Horseradish Mustard
- Maple Mustard
- Maple Butter
- Sap
- Light Syrup, Medium Syrup , Amber Syrup
- Maple Butter Tarts

I honestly loved everything but my favourites were the items  with  ^_^ I even bought a package of Maple Pork Farmers Sausage and Maple BBQ Pork Ribs to bring back home =)

After the tasting it was time for the wagon ride. I had a lot of fun (albeit a bit cold) as it was my first time going on a wagon ride. Snow covered fields, tall trees, beautiful scenery and the crisp fresh air was a much needed break from the hectic city life - so serene.

We stopped to see McCully's Hill Farm's Maple Syrup evaporator. The maple syrup evaporator works like this: Maple Syrup sap (sap is what directly comes from the trees) is poured into the evaporator where it is first heated through with steam. The evaporator produces steam, and a series of pipes transports the cold sap through this steam. Once the sap is heated to almost boiling by the steam, it is delivered to large flat pans where it is boiled until the water evaporates, leaving the sugary syrup behind. The syrup is then drawn into containers and filtered to remove any impurities. 

We got to see cute farm animals too.

McCully's Hill Farm4074 Perth Line #9, RR.2, St. Marys, ON. N4X 1C5. Ph: 519-284-2564 - Email: - Web:

Time just flew by and before we knew it, it was time for lunch. We went to Simple, Fish and Chips where we were warmly greeted by Chef and Owner, Shawn Hartwell. He talked to us about Simple, Fish and Chips and its participation in the Oceanwise program. It is evident to all of us that Shawn is very passionate about the Oceanwise program and offering sustainable seafood to his customers.

We started lunch with delicious lobster pinwheels. For our mains, we had local bistro greens with maple balsamic dressing, and three fishes: 1) a sample of fresh Oceanwise sablefish glazed with maple, 2) Oceanwise mahi mahi glazed with toasted sesame seed dressing, and 3) an in-house citrus cured Sockeye salmon with local radish sprouts and Japanese ginger dressing. My favourite was the sablefish - so buttery and sweet (naturally sweet as well as from the maple). 

Simple, Fish and Chips118 Downie Street, Stratford, ON. N5A 1X1. Ph: 519-275-0400 - Email: - Web: - Twitter: @SimpleGood4U

By the way, after looking at the menu, I so want to go back to Simple, Fish and Chips! For their fish and chips, you can choose from Haddock, North Pacific Cod, Pacific Halibut, Lake Yellow Perch or Lake Pickerel, with a choice of different batters such as lemon pepper, Cajun, While Wheat, Lime Chili, or Gluten free batter. So many choices and options =) They also have a whole section dedicated to the halibut, including Spicy Jerk Halibut, Orange Ginger Halibut, Tikka Masala Halibut, Coconut Crusted Halibut, Green Curry Halibut and Chili Glazed Halibut - Definitely loving the Asian influences there~

More food after lunch? Why yes, of course! For our first stop after lunch, Emily took us to "
Jenn and Larry's Brittle 'n Shakes and Ice Cream Cake". Jenn's melt-in-your-mouth peanut brittle was founded in 1999, and has quickly become the best brittle in Stratford. And Larry, Jenn's father, has been famous for making delicious homemade milkshakes ever since he operated a drive-in back in 1967-1974. And that is how "Jenn and Larry's Brittle 'n Shakes and Ice Cream Cake" came to be, a fabulous father-daughter duo.

Amazing brittle! After a few samples I couldn't resist and bought a bag of Cranberry and Almond Brittle ^_^

Jenn and Larry's Brittle 'n Shakes and Ice Cream Cakes. 49 York Street. Stratford, ON. N5A 1A1. Ph: 519-508-4949 - Email: - Facebook: Jenn and Larry's Brittle 'n Shakes

Our second stop was at The Milky Whey, a cheese shop located in downtown Stratford. Store owner and cheese lover, Liz Payne, gave us a quick tour of her cheese shop and even let us taste some of her fine cheeses =D

The Milky Whey118 Ontario St. Stratford, ON. N5A 3H2. Ph: 519-814-9439 - Email: - Web:

The last time I was at Chocolate Barrs was about a year ago when I attended their candy making workshopI picked up some Chocolate Covered Pretzels and Nutty Pop from Chocolate Barrs last time and I've been hooked on them every since! So needless to say, I picked those up this time too and instead of finishing them in two days like last time, I finished it in one day this time.

Chocolate Barrs:136 Ontario St, Stratford, ON. N5A 7Y4. Ph: 519-272-2828 - Web: - Twitter: @Chocolatebarrs

The last event in our Maple Syrup tour was a maple syrup tasting which featured Maple Syrup from Hoover's Maple Syrup, followed by a cooking demonstration by Chef Wendy Seguin. This all took place at the restaurant and dessert café, Let Them Eat Cake.

To start off, Terry Hoover of Hoover's Maple Syrup chatted to us about his Certified Organic maple syrup operations. They were Certified Organic since 2002 and offers Maple Syrup in 5 different flavours:

Extra Light - very delicate taste
- Light - delicate taste
- Medium - nice maple flavour
- Amber - stronger maple flavour
- Cooking - very strong flavour normally reserved for cooking

Afterwards, Chef Wendy gave us a cooking demo where she made an indoor smoker on the spot! Chef Wendy made us the following:

- Maple Roasted Beet Soup with a Sour Cream Swirl
- Maple Smoked Trout with Citrus Butter and Steamed Wild Rice with Candied Walnuts
- Maple Roasted Pear Tart with Maple Cream

My favourite was the Maple Smoked Trout as it was extremely moist and flavourful. I also enjoyed the tart with the pretty swan on top~

Let Them Eat Cake23 Albert Street. Stratford, ON. N5A 3K2. Ph: 519-273-4774 - Email: - Web: Hoover's Maple SyrupRR #1. Atwood, ON. N0G 1B0. Ph: 519-356-2132 - Email:

Thanks again Emily for this much-needed getaway from the city!

P.S: If you want to take a weekend trip to Stratford, you must check out Stratford's newly released iPhone App! It came out a couple of days ago and I downloaded it right away :) I played around with it for awhile and found it extremely user-friendly and informative. I think it's a very helpful guide for seeing what's there to do in Stratford, and once you decide on what to do, the app also helps with route planning. Here are a few screen shots where I chose DINE --> Casual Dining --> Simple, Fish and Chips --> Map.