Just back from a great five day trip with Cath to the Niagara wineries - something all the Ontario members and those in the midwest (Ohio, NY, Ind, even K
should really consider for next spring/summer/fall. We were accompanied by Mr & Mrs Cayman...
First day was from Ottawa to Toronto via Hwy 7. I was dubious at first expecting it to take considerably longer than the "direct" route down the 416 to the 401. The 400 highways here are divided highways (dual carriageways) and toll free - typically one can motor along unmolested at 125-130km/h. Hwy 7 is mostly 80km/h posted so you can do 100, but there are lots of little towns. Well I was wrong. It didn't take much longer, and the scenery and little towns broke up the trip. Traffic wasn't a huge issue. The area from Port Perry to the 404/Don Valley was exceptional (spectacular farms and houses). The Don Valley Parkinglot (parkway) was jammed as usual, but didn't really last that long.
We stayed at the Novotel Downtown - which happens to be close to both the St Lawrence market (fantastic place for foodies and has an epic peameal sandwich for breakfast!) and the Distillery District (gentrified restaurant area). The hotel has reasonable rates, but charges $25 for overnight parking (and absolutely no deals for military/retired military). After breakfast Cath and I were walking back towards the hotel when we saw a 172 up-roofing. We waited till the owner got out, and exchanged greetings and an SLK card. This is number five for him! Hopefully he'll check in.
We then went to Grimsby along the shore of Lake Ontario, about an hour's drive. We were entertained by a impromptu air show by a CF-18 practicing for the weekend's show.
The Niagara region is dominated by the Niagara Escarpment, which extends from the Falls all the way to Georgian Bay/Lake Huron. It creates several micro climates suitable for viticulture...wine grapes!! There are literally dozens of wineries in the area now, most making quite good wine.
We have our favourites - Peninsula Ridge, 30 Bench (a bench is a terroir below the escarpment), Vinelands, Foreign Affaire (apessamento style), Kacaba, and Featherstone. New discoveries this time are Malivoire (try Guilty Men; they also had a grilled cheese stand, and a wine cheese pairing (see fotos - these cheeses, if you can find them are spectacular) and Back 10. Back 10 is run by a young couple from Alberta originally (he says he's 40, but looks 28 and puts on a great show).
We belong to the Vineland Estates wine club (they ship monthly) and as a result if you take the Chef's Selection for lunch, you get wine with each course gratis. This is only our second time for lunch, but it was fantastic again.
We stayed two nights in Jordan (the area is actually the regional municipality of Lincoln, which causes confusion on many GPS systems) at 1851 Historic House - originally a post office. The hosts are a Canadian lady, and her Brit husband, formerly an RAF controller who also served on a carrier. He's also a damn fine breakfast chef! Accommodations were very nice. Before the grapes, this area was made famous for its fruit farms which still abound, so if you can come in Sept you have an additional treat.
We had decided to circumnavigate Lake Ontario, so we crossed at Fort Erie/Buffalo (no toll) and then took the NY Throughway ($4 toll to Waterloo) to the outlets. A bit of shopping then onward to Syracuse. We'd discovered the downtown restaurant district in the spring so stayed in the centre of town an the Marriott (who does offer military rates, thank you Marriott!). What we learned was that about half the restaurants are closed on Sundays! We made do, but if you go, stop at Kitty Hoyne's (Irish Cannonballs are a rueben in a meatball size), Pastabilities, and a new place (Greek/Italian) called Pi-azza. Small Plates (a Detroit based chain apparently) has a new take on tapas - small portions meant to be shared, and they will make the portions to suit your group size (don't you hate when you're four and they bring you five or three of something?!).
Cath and Peter had to be back to work Tuesday, so we motored north on Labour Day, but not before looting the mall at Destiny USA (formerly the Carousel). No tickets this time through NY, and for the trip we averaged down around 8.3L/100km or close to 30mpg US (short hops in the wineries, 75mph on the highways; we did see as high as 7.8)
A few fotos to follow!