All posts in category “Backyard Tourism”

  • The pull of fresh taffy at The Kitchen

    Chef Jenn Wilkinson of The Kitchen in Ridgeway.

    My column, Eating Niagara, runs every second Wednesday in the St. Catharines Standard, Niagara Falls Review and Welland Tribune.

    Jack Brewster sees untapped potential in his daughter, Chef Jenn Wilkinson.

    Were it up to him, he’d enter Wilkinson in an arm-wrestling competition. I hope he keeps me posted if that ever happens because my money’s on Wilkinson going arm to arm with just about anyone.

    After watching the chef pull taffy at The Kitchen, her newly opened bakery and food shop in Ridgeway, I feel confident the odds are in her favour, and therefore mine.

    Picture a cattle rustler swinging and throwing a lasso to net a steer. Now picture them doing it with a rope made of sugar and water weighing several pounds — one that gets longer and fluffier the more it’s thrown.

    I’m sure you can understand why Wilkinson is a bookie’s arm-wrestling dream.

    “From the time I could walk and talk, I was learning to make taffy,” she said.

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  • Peach Tree
  • i4C: The story behind Niagara’s coolest wine celebration

    Harald Thiel, proprietor of Hidden Bench Estate Winery, and a co-founder of i4C.

    This story originally appeared in The Hamilton Spectator. Thanks to i4C for the event photos.

    When kale needed an image makeover, industry reps hired a trendy New York PR firm to make the leafy green the new black.

    When Chardonnay needed a brand overhaul, the wine gods tapped six Niagara winemakers with deep rolodexes to work some magic.

    Seven years later, the wine once plagued by the ABC movement — anything but chardonnay — is cool thanks to them. So cool that vintners from around the world, oenophiles and the curious will gather this weekend in Niagara to raise a glass or several to this once-maligned grape at the International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration (i4C for short).

    It’s the sixth and biggest edition of this annual event, running Friday through Sunday (July 22 to 24). The lineup runneth over with vineyard tours, tutorials about what makes Chardonnay great (hint: growing in cool climes like Niagara helps), and white linen feasts featuring the best of wine country cuisine and 159 vintages from 61 winemakers around the world.

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  • Peach Tree
  • Niagara Craft Brewery Tours shows off local suds

    Jakob Chapman and Steve Kostecki own and operate Niagara Craft Brewery Tours.

    My column, Eating Niagara, runs every second Wednesday in the St. Catharines Standard, Niagara Falls Review and Welland Tribune.

    Steve Kostecki and Jakob Chapman want to show off Niagara in a heady way.

    They plan to do it with a business idea that’s been fermenting but became reality this past spring when they launched Niagara Craft Brewery Tours, the region’s first — and currently, only — tour operator dedicated solely to showcasing wine country’s suds.

    With Niagara home to nearly a dozen craft breweries and counting, Kostecki and Chapman decided to hop to it and offer visitors to our fair wine region something more than organized tipple tours to get a taste of our terroir.

    “Niagara is a hotbed for beer right now,” Kostecki said. “We have, in my opinion, some of the best craft beer in the province.”

    Niagara started paving an ale trail in 2010 when Niagara College opened its teaching brewery and accompanying store that sold student-made brews.

    Granted, there were already brewpubs in the region, including the Merchant Ale House in St. Catharines and Taps Brewing in Niagara Falls. But the launch of the college program inspired others to tap into the possibility of a beer scene in a region developing a world-class reputation for wine.

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