Over the years many ‘trails’ have sprung up that have to do with food…or at least the organizers say that they do. Although it’s not really apple season, the Apple Pie Trail, is worth investigating, even if it’s on line. It’s a model that could be emulated everywhere in the country wherever there’s a food story to tell.
Located on the south shore of Georgian Bay atop the Niagara Escarpment where, for generations, apples have flourished, is some of the finest apple growing country in all of Canada. The bonus is that the trail participants has recognized an opportunity and they walk the talk. They not only serve apple-based products, the quality of the offerings is excellent right from a great French style apple tart to the small museum that tells the story of apples in the Thornbury/Clarksburg region. The website component is also very well organized.
For well over 150 years, orchards have flourished in the heavy clay/loam soil. Apples from the region are the crunchiest in the Province. Varieties from the old St. Lawrence and Fameuse (a.k.a. snow) to Macintosh and Northern Spy to the newer Honeycrisp and brand new Red Prince all flourish. The Apple Pie Trail honours the story and leads travelers from one carefully selected purveyor of apple-y treats to another.
In downtown Collingwood Café Chartreuse (70 Hurontario Street) bakes classic French style tarts…many layers of thinly sliced fruit with minimum sugar and buttery pastry. Down the street you can have a great apple/caramel latte at Espresso Post (149 Hurontario) served by a champion barista (see the wall of awards!).
Further west, at Craigleith, the old railway tracks have been made into a bike/ski trail and the train station is now the Craigleith Heritage Depot displaying apple memorabilia. It’s a great stop, even if its only to walk the shale beach across the highway where I learned how to skip stones. It’s on the way to Blue Mountain Village with its array of restaurants. There you can dine elegantly at the Oliver Bonancini Café Grille and finish off with a slice of sour cream apple crumble tart.
In Thornbury, one of my favourite Ontario towns at the mouth of the Beaver River, there’re a number of stops. The Cheese Gallery (11 Bruce St. S.) features (what else?!) apple cheesecake. At Sisi on Main (27 Bruce St. S.) a great casual restaurant, try the apple crumble with ice cream and caramel sauce but make sure you save space for the Red Prince apple pie at the Thornbury Bakery Café (12 Bruce St. S.) Thornbury is home to Ashanti Coffee (29 Bruce St. S.) Canada’s only farm to cup coffee roaster. Their coffee comes from an East African estate owned by local residents and to go with it they’re serving forth apple crumble muffins.
Higher on the mountain taste iced apple cider at Georgian Hills Vineyard (call ahead 705-444-5200) en route to the Ravenna Country Market (Grey Rd 2) which caters to the ski/summer vacationers who need a quick meal. There’s half a freezer full of ready to bake apple crumbles. Also at Ravenna you can pick up a filet or two of apple wood smoked trout from Kolopore Springs Fish. The water in the region is pure and cold so fish flourish in ponds and in streams that tumble down the escarpment.