Food is the great uniter – it brings people together and provides a social context to feed our spirit as well as our bodies. And isn’t it true that a gathering of family and friends can only be enhanced by the accompaniment of really good food (and vice versa)?
This fall, we invite you to set off on an edible journey through Ontario’s Highlands and meet the makers, the chefs, and the hardworking folks who make the food that brings us so much joy.
Bring your appetite, your curiosity and your sense of adventure and walk away richer (and fuller) for the experience.
*When wandering in Ontario’s Highlands, please be aware of any local travel restrictions and guidelines. Vaccine passports accompanied by photo identification are currently required to enter some businesses.
This will be your first day on your edible journey, so we suggest you pack some stretchy pants and make room for the adventure. Make the decision to try whatever comes your way and be prepared for new flavours and experiences.
Start Here: Perth
Did you know that Lanark County is home to more edible experiences per capita than the much larger nearby city of Ottawa, many of which are found right in the heart of Perth. The Sip & Savour Trail is a good place to start for some background on the region and the communities found here.
What to Do:
- Enjoy a fine dining meal at The Stone Cellar in Perth. Say hello to the restaurant’s chef, Simon VanWingerden while you’re there.
- Sample chocolates from Perth Chocolate Works before or after dinner.
- Sample local craft drinks from Weatherhead Brewery, Perth Brewery or Top Shelf Distillers.
- Learn about the region’s cheese history and snap a photo at The Mammoth Cheese (there’s a story here, as you may have guessed).
Time Spent Here: Plan for an entire day spent in the area – make sure you include a wander through beautiful Stewart Park to work off some of those calories.
End Your Day: Lanark Highlands
Just a short drive from Perth is Clyde Hall Bed and Breakfast, a luxurious place to spend the night set amongst a working maple forest. Owners Liisa and Robert Salzmann love to entertain their guests with stories of the bed and breakfast’s history (ask them about the Lanark fire!).
What to Do:
- Check in to Clyde Hall and if there’s time take in a round or two at Timber Run Golf Course.
- Order ahead and pick up some wild cider from Ugly Apple Cider in Lanark Highlands, only a short drive from Clyde Hall.
- Try chocolates from Village Treats in Lanark Village.
Time Spent Here: Plan for a late start the next day so you have time to fully explore the bed and breakfast’s grounds and area.
Tour some of the other food and drink experiences in Lanark County before moving on to the Ottawa Valley. Roll the windows down and watch for farmer’s stands along the way.
Start Here: Lanark Highlands
Waken the next morning to a chef-prepared breakfast by master pastry chef at Clyde Hall, Robert Salzmannn, which will no doubt include maple syrup made from sap collected right on the property. Then hit the road to continue your edible adventure..
Next Stop: Calabogie
Oh Calabogie, the heart of the Ottawa Valley….there is so much to do here you won’t want to leave! Make the trip to Calabogie via Carleton Place and stop for a bite to eat prepared by the award-winning Chef Ian Carswell at the Black Tartan Kitchen, and a Bavarian brew at Braumeister Brewing Co.
What to Do:
- Calabogie Brewing Co. has a beer that’s calling your name.
- Hike the many trails at Calabogie Peaks to see the fall colours.
- Leave room in your day and your belly for dinner at Canthooks restaurant in Calabogie Peaks Resort (open Wed. to Sun. in fall), where chef Iris Borghi will prepare something fantastic, valley style.
- Check in to Calabogie Peaks Resort for a good night’s sleep after all your fresh air.
Time Spent Here: Take your time here and know you will be spending the night right in town so you won’t need to rush.
Hopefully you paced yourself on day one and two – remember this is a marathon, not a sprint!
Start Here: Calabogie
Waken early and go for an early morning walk to build an appetite for the day to come. Before you leave Calabogie, stop at Oh-el-La Café for a hearty breakfast to fuel your trip. Your next stop is only an hour away so no need to rush!
Next Stop: Sharbot Lake
When it comes to cute small towns, Sharbot Lake is one you won’t want to miss. Situated at the narrow part of the lake, you can have lake views no matter which way you look here. There’s also a strong farm to plate vibe here, found in the local businesses.
What to Do:
- Pick up some cured meats and cheeses at Seed to Sausage in Sharbot Lake.
- A local chocolatier, Fine Chocolates by Ludwig is located in Frontenac County and Ludwig’s rich, dark chocolates can be found at Seed to Sausage and other local spots in the region.
- Grab a cup of coffee and some homebaked treats (or a light lunch to go) from Cardinal Cafe + Shop.
- Place an online order for locally made artisanal cheese at Back Forty Artisan Cheese and have a picnic lunch on-site before heading off to your next stop.
Time Spent Here: Take your time to wander by the lake here for a fantastic view.
Next Stop: Bancroft
There is plenty of edible fun to be had in Hastings County. Roughly an hour-and-a-half from Calabogie, Bancroft is a great place to stop mid-day for a break and to stretch your legs.
What to Do:
- Have a fine dining lunch prepared and served at The Granite by restaurant owner and executive chef, Brendon Clarke.
- Stop at Bancroft Brewing Co. for a British or German ale.
- Visit Bancroft General Mercantile for some retro candy and fun edibles for the kid inside all of us.
- Make a short detour south to Coe Hill to visit The Barn Chefs, open Wednesday to Sunday, to pick up authentic Italian cured and cooked meats, fresh pastas, and buffalo milk cheese.
Time Spent Here: Plan for a solid couple of hours to eat and shop in Bancroft and area. Tack on a hike at Bancroft Eagle’s Nest Park to loosen your waist band a little bit.
Next Stop: Haliburton
Made the 45-minute drive from Bancroft to Haliburton to end your exploration of the connection to food and drink in Ontario’s Highlands. You should be pleasantly full and loaded down with take-home treats to savour in the days to come.
What to Do:
- Have a gourmet meal at Rhubarb Haliburton and chat with Chef Christoph about how he finds the local ingredients he uses in his dishes
- Stop in at Abbey Gardens to pick up some farm-fresh and local goodness.
- Sample local brews at Haliburton Highlands Brewing Co., right next door to Abbey Gardens.
- Take the Sip, Swill, and Savour Brewery Tour offered by Yours Outdoors.
Time Spent Here: End your day in Haliburton with enough time to make the short drive to Minden to spend the night there.
End Your Day: Minden
End your day with an overnight at Heather Lodge in Minden, where you can sleep in a couples only luxury resort, while exploring the vast property on scenic Twelve Mile Lake.
What to Do:
- Choose from one of Heather Lodge’s 12 spacious rooms that blend traditional Canadian décor with modern luxuries.
- Dine on-site with an inspired menu prepared by Chef James and Chef Mike.
- Take a canoe or kayak ride on Twelve Mile Lake to enjoy the fall scenery.
End your edible journey in Ontario’s Highlands and head for home feeling refreshed (and maybe a few pounds heavier).
Looking for more inspiration for connecting to food in Ontario’s Highlands? Click here to find more information about making an edible connection in the region.