‘A Day in the Life’ - July 2016
Norfolk County is known as ‘Ontario’s Garden.’ Once famous for tobacco you will now find many varieties of crops including ginseng. I’ve spent many days in this garden and enjoyed its fruits and vegetables. On this occasion I decided to explore some of the ‘value added’ venues – places like breweries, wineries and, of course, restaurants. After a brief consultation with my wife Sue we decided to try out some relatively new players in the region.
First off we headed towards the new ‘New Limburg’ brewery that opened in September of 2015. The brewery is located in a slightly dilapidated school building. The aesthetically uninspiring location, virtually in the middle of nowhere, was not indicative of the brews waiting inside. Starting with the imaginative labels this brewery is a hidden gem. It specializes in beers brewed in the Trappist tradition of Belgium and Holland. The two beers that really caught my fancy were the Belgian Blond and Petit Blond. They are both ales featuring floral and spicy notes with distinctively citrus and pear tasting character. The Belgian Blond comes in at 7.2% alcohol/volume, so drink with care, whereas the Petit is a more normal 5%.
The New Limburg also has a nice little pub in the building along with a fine patio. The day we were there a food truck was parked in the entrance to the parking lot – their featured pulled pork was a hit. The pub itself has a limited menu including soup, bread and cheeses which is always available. Prices are very reasonable. The owners are Yvonne, Mischa and Jo Geven who are originally from Holland. Son Jo, with Mischa, are the brewers while mother Yvonne is the artist responsible for the funky labels. (While you’re in the area make sure you visit Ramblin’ Road Brewery Farm and admire their hop crop along with some tasty beers.)
Our next stop on our leisurely day trip was the Bonnieheath Estate. Advertised as a lavender farm and winery, we were pleasantly surprised to find out the Estate was also a cidery… and it was the ciders that impressed us the most. Blended with other fruits these products are very well made. The wines are made with hybrid grapes (which owner Anita Bueher chose for their suitability to the local climate) and my favourite was the Marechal Foch which displayed a nice round flavour and fruity aromas. Sue picked up a number of lavender products as Christmas gifts. Their boutique features some beautifully packaged items all made with lavender – the soap was my choice! Make sure you allow some extra time to view the magnificent grounds. I don’t think there is anything more peaceful and entrancing than walking through a fragrant field of lavender. I’m sure my blood pressure dropped by a few points!
To round out this day in our life Sue and I headed to the much heralded Combine restaurant in Simcoe. Famous for local foods and quality, it did not disappoint. They even have their own herb garden where I met owner Jennifer Rivard who runs the restaurant with husband chef Ryan. We dined in the cozy building where the service was gracious and correct. I started with a local Lake Erie perch taco while Sue had fried vegetables in a light batter. For the main course Sue opted for pickerel, again from Lake Erie, while I chose the ribs from YU Ranch. (By the way, YU is an award-winning farm that raises Texas Longhorn beef – another must visit!) Our overall experience at the Combine was very enjoyable – you can clearly see why they’re worthy of Trip Advisor’s ‘Award of Excellence.’ Bravo!