Paris in the Summer

On our way home from Canada’s “Deep South” (the north shore of Lake Erie – see GeoPhotographica for details of great nature spots), we passed through Paris just at the right time for ice cream or a bakery. Coasting downhill to where the Nith River converges with the Grand, we scanned Grand River Street for either. “There’s a bakery”, I shout out just before Laurie exclaims, “Ice cream – and it’s Kawartha Dairy” (her favourite).

Well, what to do – ice cream or bakery? Easy – I went to the Paris Bakery and Laurie entered the wonderful envelope of aromas at Chocolate Sensations to get her ice cream.

I must admit, the Paris Bakery was a bit disappointing in that it had no where to sit down, had mostly desserts and had only coffee (I could have used a cuppa tea at 4 o’clock in the afternoon). However, I surprised myself by ordering a Blueberry-Nut Bread Pudding which was in a large muffin case. I despise even the thought of bread pudding. While I love leftovers, I just don’t think of a dessert as leftover bread and eggs – that’s french toast! Well wasn’t I surprised by this – it was delicious.

Laurie had a scoop of Key lime on top of Moose Tracks. The Key lime was much more limey than the Key lime pie ice cream from London Dairy at Broderick’s Ice Cream Parlour in Port Stanley earlier in the week. Anyway, we both walked away satisfied and strolled down to the Nith-Grand confluence. Being geo-geeks, we had to see it. It was rather underwhelming with a green Nith joining a very shallow Grand. The Nith valley is beautifully forested at the that point and with the careful removal of unsightly wires (via Lightroom), it would make for a beautiful autumn photograph. However, the river itself needs a good flushing!

Soon we were on our way home having enjoyed downtown Paris in the summer.

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Here at last – OntariosBest.ca

Twenty-four hours ago, my wife Laurie and I were cycling the Guelph to Goderich  Rail Trail between West Montrose and Elmira when a thought popped into my head. To be honest, it had been festering and building for some time, but suddenly it came into full fruition: build a website that mapped the kind of places we love to stop at when we are winding our way through the Ontario countryside: hand-scooped ice cream, tea rooms, bakeries and family-style restaurants. You can find it at OntariosBest.ca.

These places are hard to find! It’s easy to find ads and apps for Timmies and all the fast-food franchises (and we like Timmies – but not all the time). Their jingles remain in our heads for years! But what about the “Mom-and-Pop” places? The ice cream scoopers that support Ontario’s local dairies? The home-style bakeries that are now competing with all the “in-store” bakeries. The restaurants that offer real, home-cooked food and not the pre-prepared-frozen-reheated-and-served meals like so many roadhouses and franchises do. Those places are all about homogenization. I like my rhubarb pie fresh, in season, thank you very much!

Back around Canada Day, Laurie and I spent a few days away at an inn up in Grey County. In its rather pretentious way, dinners started at about $30 – each. While that would’t break the bank, we were looking for better value for our money and, after some searching, found a place just north of Chatsworth: Kettle’s Back Home Cookin’. Wonderful! Last month, we were touring Huronia with my wife’s cousin, searching out the various connections with Samuel de Champlain and the Wendat people as this year is the 400th anniversary of Champlain’s arrival in Ontario. We had a fine lunch at Mum’s Restaurant in Midland. The food was great, as was the service and servers.

The other problem here in Ontario, is finding a good cup of tea. Having lived in Britain for a few years, we came to appreciate how restorative a cup of tea can be after a day of hiking the Bruce Trail or driving around Bruce County. But good cups of tea and their associated tea rooms (with home-style baking, of course) are difficult to find here in Ontario. In England, every small town and village has at least one (as well as a pub, of course!) and if you’re visiting an English Heritage or National Trust property, there is always a tea room there or nearby. I know Ontarions don’t tend to be tea drinkers, but really, there is more to life than coffee and doughnuts. Apple crisp, peach cobbler, date squares, raspberry pie – exactly what good bakeries and tea rooms have and what we need after a day out and about.

It’s these kinds of places we would like to celebrate and put on the map. The easier they are to find – all in one place – the more likely people will visit them, eat and tell their friends about what great places they are. So, celebrate the great home-cooking, baking and hand-scooping we have here in Ontario. And, if you find place that’s not on our map, let us know about it by completing the online form. Bon appetit!