Every summer I try to fit in at least one good road trip (check out my 2015 expedition here, as published in the Toronto Star). This year turned out to be a particularly busy one, and my opportunities for lengthy road trips were running out. So, when my friends proposed a mini vacation to a cottage in the Kawarthas, I jumped at the chance to plan a few stops along the way. What should have been a 1 hour and 45 minute journey, turned into a 4 hour extravaganza of food and summer bliss.
Heading out on Highway 47 from Aurora (with an appropriately obscene amount of candy), I knew our first stop had to involve stocking up on real food. It’s farm stand season in Southern Ontario, and one of my favourites is Hulshof’s Farm Market. They are practically always open, and are so well-stocked that you can almost do your entire grocery shop there. We picked up a variety of vegetables to roast on the BBQ, some glorious mushroom-beef burgers, apple and caramelized onion sausages and a peach crisp for dessert.
Our next stop was just a few minutes down the road: Richter’s Herbs. This is a fascinating stop for anyone with a green thumb, a budding chef, or who has an inclination towards natural remedies. Specializing in herb plant and seeds, their greenhouse is filled with an unbelievable variety of plants you thought you knew (there are a dozen different rosemarys?? We picked up the “barbeque” variety for our dinner). Walking down the aisles is a mental and olfactory joy, as you can sniff the various herbs and read the descriptions of their powerful properties.
Feeling sufficiently knowledgeable in our herb-lore, we hit the road again, this time in search for some more immediate sustenance. We made our way into Uxbridge and pulled up to The Second Wedge Brewing Company. I had heard of this place from one of the self-drive Greenbelt craft beer tours. Not having had time to drive one of those myself this summer, I thought we could get a taste (pun!) here, and we were rewarded with a highly entertaining and delicious experience. We opted for the sampler, and tried all 6 of their brews. None of us are beer-aficionados, but we nonetheless thoroughly enjoyed trying all of the flavours, and we all found a favourite. I particularly enjoyed the fact that each brew is named after a local feature of Uxbridge, whether it be a trail, geological feature or pipe band.
The small portions were perfectly sized to allow us to keep driving safely, and we hit the road once again. I thought we were in for a straight shot from here to the cottage, but when we hit Manilla, I remembered something that I had always wanted to try: Newfie Fries! And what luck, I happened to have a bonafide Newfie in the car with me. We pulled our discerning tastes over, and sauntered up to the chip truck. Low and behold, Newfie Fries (almost like poutine, but swap the cheese curds with bits of poultry stuffing) are amazing. This version also got the stamp of authentic-Newfie-approval.
Pleasantly stuffed, we settled into the car for the final stretch into the Kawarthas (sadly, we had to save our stop at the Dairy Barn for the way home – we were stuffed!). We had successfully made it to the cottage after our glorious road trip, and were ready to soak up the last few rays of summer.
Happy long weekend everyone! Are you going to fit one last road trip into the summer of 2016?