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Prince Edward County, Canada: A Tasting Tour
On Lake Ontario’s northern shores is one of Canada’s best-kept secrets. Prince Edward County may be an unassuming little island, but it’s steadily winning a reputation as something of a gastronomic capital. Drive two hours east of Toronto (or two-hours west of Ottawa) and the rolling hills and farmlands reveal a surprising variety of restaurants, wineries, craft breweries, cheese makers and farmers’ markets.
There’s no set route – you can drive Prince Edward County end-to-end in about an hour or so - but as you pass through the charming towns and villages, from Picton to Wellington, you’ll find all kinds of diversions to pique your culinary curiosity. Here are some of the highlights.
Prince Edward County newbies are frequently blown away at how such a small region can pack such a big gastro-punch. The options are numerous, but you can’t do much better than Agrarian for a rustic farm-to-fork fare (not to mention its grocery selection), or Sand & Pearl Raw Bar & Fish Fry, whose name says it all.
Sand & Pearl Raw Bar & Fish Fry
For a modern take on classic poutine or a ‘Canadian Hangover Cure’ brunch, washed down with a hair-of-the-dog craft beer or cocktail, try The Courage bar.
Slickers Ice Cream
Then treat yourself to some small-batch artisanal cones at Slickers Ice Cream – the apple pie flavour or toasted marshmallow comes highly recommended.
Thanks to the highly fertile, limestone-rich clay loam soil and the moderate microclimate around Lake Ontario, Prince Edward County is one of the fastest-growing wine regions in Canada. While twenty years ago there was only one winery, there are now over 40 to explore.
Housed in a converted dairy barn, Hinterland specialises in sparkling wines and hosts a monthly farmers’ market.
Long Dog Winery
Long Dog Winery is named after owners James Lahti and Victoria Rose’s beloved daschunds, and is known for its fine chardonnays and pinot noirs.
At Norman Hardie you can enjoy some of Ontario’s best aromatic white wines, as well as excellent wood-fired thin crust pizza, as you relax on the terrace overlooking the vineyards.
Prince Edward County Wine Tours
Learn more about the winemaking history and the grapes in the region with a tailored experience courtesy of Prince Edward County Wine Tours.
County Road Beer Co.
Where Prince Edward County’s all-conquering wineries lead, its craft breweries follow. Country Road Beer Company (right next door to Hinterland winery) boasts a fine beer garden in which to sup their Petite Saison or Belgian Dubbel ales
Not only does Parsons Brewery offer a Crushable unfiltered traditional German Pilsner or a Devil’s Right Hand stout aged in a Jack Daniel’s barrel, but it’ll also sort you out with some ace and authentic Mexican fare.
Meanwhile, at Midtown Brewing Company’s brewpub, you can match an MBC Burger to a nice crisp kölsch.
The County Cider Co.
And if you’re looking for something a little fruitier, there’s always The County Cider Co.
Black River Cheese
Cheese is big in Prince Edward County. Black River Cheese has been churning up a storm for over a century with its classic cheddars and mozzarellas.
Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Co.
Fifth Town’s award-winning handmade cheeses have been serving the locals with choice sheep’s cow’s and goat’s milk cheeses since 2008.
Wellington Farmers’ Market
Prince Edward County teems with opportunities for roadside food shopping, but there’s nothing like rummaging in a great food market. On Saturdays don’t miss the Wellington Farmers’ Market near the shores of Lake Ontario or choose seasonal goodies at Campbell’s Orchards farm market.
Campbell’s Orchards Country Market
Angelo Bean Italian Cooking School
You could pick up some artisanal Italian sausages from Angelo Bean, then let him teach you how to incorporate them into a 5-course tasting menu.
The Waring House Cooking School
Or Pop along to the Waring House Cooking School for a class that includes a nice sit-down dinner with wine for your efforts.