On a recent Apple Pie Trail Media tour guided by Krisitin Ellis, the Marketing Coordinator with the Blue Mountain Village Association, I discovered many delectable and tasty apple treats in and around Blue Mountain.
The Apple Pie Trail is nestled between the Niagara Escarpment and the sparkling shores of Georgian Bay and home to more than thirty tasty apple varieties, says Leslie Huffman (Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs) including the McIntosh, Northern Spy, Ambrosia and, the latest Red Prince– to name a few.
The trail has 33 businesses from Collingwood to Owen Sound each providing authentic local products and experiences all year long (except for the seasonal markets).
We hit a new record of 12 wonderful stops and shops in one day following the self guided map in the Apple Pie Trail brochure which is available at – applepietrail.ca. We started at the Espresso Post in Collingwood where we were served an apple caramel latté with a homemade reduction of honey crisp apples drizzled on top. Wow – to die for! What a great way to start our tour and day.
Our next stop was at Ashanti where we cozied up to a warm apple crumble muffin with cinnamon and nutmeg made by the Blackbird Pie Company. Many trail members partner up sharing yummy recipes and products. And if you stop into Ashanti try their new mouth-watering apple strudel bar which is baked in house. You won’t be disappointed!
It was a lovely day for a tour and our next stop was off the beaten track to visit Chef Phillip Tarlo’s “Willow Trace Cooking Academy” and B&B. What an amazing place. Nestled in behind a pond with a family of ducks, the B&B is on 10 acres and is a must stay if you are visiting the area. Tantalize your taste buds and book a class with Chef Tarlo to learn how to make amazing apple crepes.
I have to admit that the next stop at Heavenly Sweets was one of my favourites. Owner, Heli Vogrin spoiled us with an apple caramel cheesecake. I can still taste it and I’ll certainly be going back for another piece. Just down the road, we stopped in to check out Grey Heron Designs. Their hand crafted apple wood buttons or apple inspired hand dyed sock yarn make for lovely gifts for that special someone. Some of their yarn apple sock kits include yarn dyed to match the Delicious, McIntosh, and Red Prince.
We stopped at the Ravenna Market for the most amazing toasted veggie sandwiches and I purchased some homemade apple jelly and sparkling raspberry and apple cider. The owner mentioned that they go through an astounding 5000 pounds of spy apples a year! A big thank-you to Roy for sending us home with what felt like a 5000 lb. apple pie – delicious!
It only seemed appropriate to stop next at Georgian Hills Vineyards for a quick wine tasting. The Award winning Ida Red Frozen to the Core desert wine certainly complimented my lunch at the Ravenna Market.
Besides producing Ontario’s best apples, Beaver Valley has also given birth to a burgeoning wine industry. This unique part of the valley with its own microclimate, dictated by Georgian Bay, provides the exclusive conditions to grow hardy grape varieties discovered by growers to survive the long, arduous winters. The blossoming wine region born in the midst of the apple orchards is an added attraction for visitors.
Coffin Ridge is Southern Georgian Bay region’s first winery to open to the public, but Rob Ketchin, owner of Georgian Hills Vineyards is also working hard to establish the area. Together, these two wineries have built a phenomenal local wine industry to complement the flavours of the regions’ apple varieties and recipes.
One must-stop on any tour of the trail, with over 50 years serving the region with friendly, old-fashioned hospitality, and the best home baking anywhere, is Grandma Lambe’s in Meaford on hwy. 26. “We have a five generation farm that started out of our family’s garage in the 40’s. In 1984, we opened our retail store which features a wide variety of homemade pies, jams, locally grown veggies and much, much more,” says Grace Lambe.
In the quaint town of Thornbury, we stopped at the Cheese Gallery for tastings of specialty cheeses and to load up on more goodies. The owner most certainly knows her cheese so feel free to ask any questions while you are visiting!
Next we stopped in at the Farmer’s Pantry just south of Clarksburg. This place is unquestionably the perfect family getaway destination. They have a market full of goodies, a vast array of farm animals for the family to visit with such as bunnies, miniature donkeys, goats and even an educational reptile room with a diversity of skulls to learn about. Book a candy apple clinic with your family and design and create the most deliciously perfect candy apple.
Our second last stop heading home was at Oakley’s Farm Market where we loaded up on beautiful sunflowers and fresh apples. To end our fabulous day, we stopped into the Simplicity Bistro to be greeted by the chef himself. Chef Scott Chalmers served us a beautiful apple matchstick salad with bacon, goat’s cheese, mixed micro greens and purple spinach! The smoked apple bread and apple butter to accompany the salad was the perfect combo. Thanks Simplicity!
With our car loaded down with everything from Kolapore smoked apple-wood trout to Apple Pie we felt happily connected to our local area. We met farmers, chefs, market owners all thriving on the apple industry. With 21 more stops to experience my apple pie trail map awaits. The Apple Pie Trail has brought our ‘local gems’ together all the while creating a culinary experience like no other. For more information visit – www.applepietrail.ca or call 705.443.5522.