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Looking for a local food scene in Ontario’s cottage country? There’s plenty to get excited about. Writer Carmen Kuntz does some digging and makes some recommendations for folks who seek a different kind of foodie experience off the dock.
Wild Muskoka Botanicals literally bottles Muskoka’s scents and flavours for you to take home. Known for their incredible handmade artisan wild foods like syrups, spice mixes, flavoured vinegars and honey, as well as fresh harvested seasonal vegetables, owner Laura Gilmour insists on quality products that are made in small scale to maintain ecological integrity.
Wild Muskoka Botanicals also offers workshops on wild foraging and basic herbal preparation. These courses are hands-on, informative and will get participants out walking through the forest to touch, taste and smell local edibles. Based on the western edge of Algonquin Park, Wild Muskoka Botanicals collaborates with the Wolf Den Hostel and Nature Retreat, holding courses in and around their beautiful log cabins in Algonquin.
Celebrating over 40 years as a family-operated business, Board’s Honey Farm near Restoule, Ontario is home to over 300 bee colonies that are situated across stunning, pristine landscape. The farm produces an extensive inventory of tasty, healthy and useful products (everything from honey soap to salad dressing), while providing visitors with an incredible education on the importance of bees, how they operate, and country living in general. Featuring a kid’s area, retails store, hands-on activities and more. Fun for the whole family.
MUSKOKA LAKES WILD LEEK FESTIVAL
As one of Muskoka’s most familiar and popular wild edibles, leeks are a sign of spring. And this spring, from May 19-29 the Muskoka Lakes Chamber of Commerce will host a new festival that celebrates wild leeks. The slogan for Muskoka Lakes Wild Leek Festival says it all: ‘Epicurean adventures and environmental education await.’
The festival will feature workshops and guided nature walks for hands-on participation. A culinary trail will allow participants to taste dishes from local restaurants and eateries using wild leek and other forest edibles.
The Leeky Bowl – A Great Muskoka Soup Contest is open to amateurs and professionals alike and will be judged for people’s choice and judge’s best categories. Public for taste testing will take place for $5 per person on May 28th in Port Carling.
SOME DINING DELIGHTS
Restaurants and fine dining establishments from Algonquin Park to Georgian Bay are incorporating local foods, spices and flavours into their exciting dishes, including the Norsemen Restaurant at Walker Lake Resort is just 15 minutes outside of Huntsville, whose seasonal menu features wild game and local fish (as well as traditional steak and lamb). Try their mushroom risotto with locally grown, organic mushrooms.
Some of the area’s breweries feature local flavours and spices, such as juniper berries found in Muskoka Brewery’s Legendary Oddity. You can also sample award-winning wines made from indigenous cranberries and blueberries at Muskoka Lakes Winery in Bala.
Looking for more great places to sample local fare? Consider some of the following spots for your next culinary adventure:
Bartlett Lodge Algonquin Park
Belly Ice Cream Company Huntsville
Couples Resort Algonquin Park
Deer Lake Lodge South River
Farmer’s Daughter Huntsville (wild plants and foraged foods)
Fern Glen Inn B& B Emsdale
Fork in the Road Baysville
Milford Bay Trout Farm (which also offers public fishing)
The Northridge Inn Sundridge
Stonemote Cottage/Northern Edge Algonquin, South River
Eat Around the Sound 2016 Workshop Series Parry Sound
Farmers’ Markets throughout the region
Best sure also to check out one of many weekly local Farmers’ Markets that will also spring up across Ontario’s cottage country starting in May. These are also great spots to find fantastic local food and to speak to the producers who know food well. Enjoy!
LIKE TO MAKE A RECOMMENDATION? Got a dining recommendation for an establishment featuring local food on its menu in Algonquin Park, the Almaguin Highlands, Loring-Restoule, Muskoka and Parry Sound, Ontario – email firstname.lastname@example.org with details.
To plan your stay in Ontario’s cottage country, click here.
Featured salad photo from The Northridge Inn in Sundridge, Ontario.
Guest Blogger: Carmen Kuntz
Carmen grew up exploring the wilderness and waters of Muskoka. She is passionate about self-propelled adventure and recreation conservation. As a freelance writer, photographer and whitewater kayaker, she loves sharing the local lore, legends and locations that make her Ontario backyard into an outdoor playground.