Feast On the Parkway with Niagara Parks

I have the most delicious day to tell you about.

A few weeks ago, I was lucky to be invited on the blogger tour Feast on the Parkway, produced in partnership with Niagara Parks.

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What a day it was. Packed full of delicious, local food and wine.

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Stunning scenery

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And lots of photos, selfies, and tweets. We’re bloggers after all.

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We tasted so many incredible things that day.

The Niagara Parks Culinary department has been working towards Feast ON certification for all five of their full service restaurants. This accreditation was developed by the Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance, to recognize places that showcase Ontario food and drink products. Feast ON restaurants must purchase a minimum of twenty-five percent Ontario food products and beverages. When you eat at a restaurant that is Feast ON certified, you get a delicious meal, and know that you are helping Ontario food and drink producers to boot.

A winning combination.

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Oh, and did I mention the scenery along the Niagara Parkway? I believe I did, but it’s worth mentioning again. All of the Niagara Parks Restaurants have the most beautiful natural backdrops.

Like this one, at Queenston Heights Restaurant.

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History abounds along The Niagara Parkway too. Of course you know about the Battle of Queenston Heights, and this brave lady.

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The walkway to the Queenston Heights Restaurant draws your eye up to Brock’s Monument.

Lovely landscaped gardens and flowers surround it. The grounds are so lovely, that it’s tempting to linger. But we tore ourselves away, and went into the restaurant to join up with our group.

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Chef Bill Greenan of Queenston Heights Restaurant created this scrumptious dish for us. Braised Ontario Short Ribs with Sundried Tomato and Arugula Risotto. Perfectly matched with Trius Merlot.

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The short ribs just melted in your mouth – so tender and flavourful. The risotto was perfectly creamy, cheesy, and comfort food-y.

After that great start, we were off to the Whirlpool Golf Course Restaurant. Whirlpool Golf Course was established in 1951, making this year their 65th anniversary.

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Chef Tim Vandelaar gave us an Asparagus and Forest Mushroom Soup with Quinoa Salad and Micro Greens. I loved the combination of asparagus and mushrooms. A nice blend of earthy, spring flavours, matched with Pinot Grigio from Reif Estate Winery.

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I believe the cracker beside it was completely made of cheese. It was so good.

The Quinoa Salad had a nice presentation too, wrapped in radicchio.

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Chef Tim came out to tell us about the dish, and he was so sweet and charming. All good bloggers whipped out their cameras for pictures.

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It’s a funny thing, blogging. Your camera is always with you, ready for anything you might need to get a picture of. Your phone is also always at the ready for tweeting, instagramming, or nowadays, snapchatting. Some people think you are nuts, whipping out your camera in a restaurant, standing above your food, moving it all around for that perfect shot. The other people at your table might be getting impatient as you tell them to not dare touch anything until you have your photos done.

But other bloggers understand. There was a room full of us all doing exactly the same thing.

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I’ll say here how nice it was to meet other fellow bloggers that day. As great as the internet is, nothing beats meeting in person.

Our next stop had nothing to do with food, though. We were taking a ride on the Whirlpool Aero Car.

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Some of the group were a bit nervous about this. I mean, you’re hovering in the air over the Niagara Whirlpool Rapids in an antique cable car. Something probably not for the faint of heart.

But the views. Oh, the views.

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Isn’t that just gorgeous? I’m sure the views would be extra magnificent in the fall.

The Whirlpool Aero Car has been operating since 1916, so this is it’s 100th Anniversary this year.  If you haven’t been, I really recommend a trip. Even the bloggers who were a wee bit scared were happy they did it. Not that I was one of them, of course.

But for those of you who really crave that adrenaline spike, you should know about Wildplay’s MistRider Zipline to the Falls. This summer, on four parallel ziplines, travelling 670 metres (2,200 feet) through the wide river gorge, you will get those picture-perfect views of the American and Canadian Horseshoe Falls. I will reinforce that this is all while zipping along. In the air.

I am a big scaredy-cat, so I will just wave to you from the sidelines.

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Our next destination was Legends on the Niagara Clubhouse. It is also a golf course, and fellow history buffs will like to know that it borders the grounds of the 1814 Battle of Chippawa. If you’re a golfer, you will want to read all about Niagara Parks Golf Courses, and the info is here.

I am not a golfer, but I’m still happy to tag along with my golf-loving friends. With how pretty these courses are, and the great food and beverages I know you can get, I can just eat and drink in the clubhouse while they golf. Sounds like a perfect plan to me.

That day, Chef Chris Brown provided a really delicious Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Apple & Rosemary Chutney and Spicy Pad Thai Noodles. Washed down with one of my favourite reds, Creekside Syrah.

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Boy, was this good. I don’t eat a lot of pork at home. I find it is so easy to overcook, and I can’t stand dried-out pork. The amazing thing about having it at a good restaurant is that it is done perfectly, as this one was. Juicy, flavourful, and I loved the spicy kick from the noodles.

I also loved that it was paired with Creekside Syrah. I’m not a huge white wine drinker (except for my beloved Chardonnay and Viognier), so I loved seeing a red pairing with a Thai-inspired dish.

I thought it worked splendidly.

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At this point, we had two more stops to make, with three more courses of food coming. I wondered how we would have room for it all, but dedicated bloggers that we are, we bravely soldiered on.

I must confess, though it really is so hard to have a favourite dish from this bunch, I do. It came next, at Queen Victoria Place Restaurant.

First of all, the views are pretty sensational.

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And this dish!  Northern Rainbow Trout with a Spinach and Sweet Potato Strudel, Shoal Lake Wild Rice, Chardonnay Caper Cream and Pea Sprouts.

I could bathe in that Chardonnay Caper Cream. Sorry for that vivid visual there, but it’s true.

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Proper food descriptions often escape me, so you’ll have to trust me on this one. As an example, I’ll say that Ken usually will not eat fish – especially trout or salmon. I was thrilled when he told me how much he liked it.

The icing on the cake was that it was perfectly matched with Jackson Triggs Reserve Chardonnay.

All thanks to Chef Sidney Krick and his team at Queen Victoria Place Restaurant.

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Our final stop of the day was at Elements on the Falls Restaurant. When it comes to views, theirs can’t be beat.

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You are literally dining right on the edge of Horseshoe Falls. It’s out of this world.

The incredible scenery was a fitting background for the amazing dishes we had.

The first, created by Chef Elbert Wiersma, was a Timbale of Spaghetti Squash and Bean Pulses with Hemp Seed Ratatouille and Maple Vidal Drizzle.

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This plate was a work of art – to look at, and to eat. I was happy to see it was a vegetarian dish too. It was a lovely match for Château des Charmes Gamay Noir.

The second dish totally blew us away. Raspberry and Peach Sorbet on Pear Sponge Cake with Cherry Scented Hot Chocolate Sauce. Sounds divine, right?

But it gets better. We were given a jug of the chocolate sauce on the side, which we were to slowly pour over the white chocolate shell.

I patiently drizzled while Ken clicked away with the camera.

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Now watch closely – here’s where the magic happens.

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See how the shell is starting to melt?

But now look. It continues to melt, turning into a gooey, oozy, glorious piece of chocolate paradise.

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Dazzling presentation, and luscious flavours, made by Niagara Parks Pastry Chefs Dave Thai and Hening Sun.

An incredible finale to our day.

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Topped off with the sighting of a rainbow at The Falls, it couldn’t have been any better.

While I was tweeting throughout the day, a couple of my Twitter friends wanted to know how I had heard of this tour. They thought it sounded like a fantastic time, and wondered if this was a tour that the public could take. Food for thought, Niagara Parks?

Or, you can just follow the itinerary in this post, and do it at your own pace. Just make sure to wear stretchy clothing.

And invite me to come along too, okay?