Last weekend I escaped the city on a long-awaited, much-anticipated and desperately needed girls weekend in wine country. Two of my best girlfriends from my hometown flew down to Toronto and we set off for two nights in Niagara-on-the-Lake while our guys had bachelor weekends (read: stayed home and played video games).
We stayed at the Burke House Inn, a sunny yellow bed & breakfast built in 1826. I would absolutely recommend it for a girls getaway – most B&B’s are set up for couples and we initially had a hard time finding a good deal for three people. We stayed in the ‘Mr. Hughes’ suite which had two rooms with one queen and two twin beds. We were just off of the main street and had our own private entrance and patio – so the midnight stroll back from the Irish pub was short and didn’t disturb our fellow guests.
We rented bicycles from Zoom Leisure on the Saturday and headed out into the countryside for some wine tasting. A few of our faves:
Pondview Estate’s Harmony White – An easy-drinking blend of Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer and Riesling. There’s a bottle in my fridge right now but not for long!
Frogpond Farm’s Organic Grape Juice – Made with organic Vidal grapes, a very grown-up grape juice that hits the tongue like honey but doesn’t have a lingering sweetness.
Lailey Vinyard’s 2012 Vidal Select Late Harvest – Picked after the 15 of November but not while frozen, so it’s sweet but not as cloying as an ice wine.
Apart from the wine tours, we enjoyed juicy roadside Niagara peaches, a beautiful bike ride up the Niagara parkway, a creepy ghost tour and way more ice cream than we needed.
We had a few great meals (and one not-so-great meal), but by far the most delicious was the custom cheese plate we had made at Cheese Secrets. On the recommendation of our innkeeper, and after a long morning of bicycling and wine tasting (so arduous!), we visited these extraordinary cheesemongers. We told them what we liked and how much we wanted to spend, and they set to work creating a custom plate with generous slices of Niagara Gold, Sauvagine and Bleu Ermite cheeses along with charcuterie, dried fruit and nuts. To complete the meal we grabbed a freshly baked baguette (still hot!), a box of crackers and a bottle of Inniskillin’s Niagara Estate Series Late Harvest Riesling. The only downside was that we had to be extra careful walking back to the inn – strangers on the street kept trying to steal the tray and inviting themselves back to our place!
For such a small town, Niagara-on-the-Lake punches above it’s weight in a lot of areas – wine, fruit, houses, history, and not least of all, frozen desserts. You could get a cone at every second door on the main street, including an outpost of PEI’s Cow’s Creamery, but the best was Il Gelato Di Carlotta – Lateria. I’m still dreaming about their pistachio gelato, which is from Milan and made with nuts from Sicily. We didn’t try any of their gorgeous handcrafted biscotti ice cream sandwiches but they’re on my list for my next visit.
We left in the Sunday morning sunshine with slight headaches from doing ‘Sociables’ (raising glasses of Glenmorangie and Guiness to Irish music) the night prior. Luckily we were equipped with caffeine from Balzac’s for the ride home. I tried their Parisian Mist, a blend of French Breakfast tea with steamed milk and vanilla – sort of an elevated London Fog.
That’s it! Next week’s post will have more frocks, promise.