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Olive’s Keep Calm & Carry On Christmas Survival Guide: Christmas in Paris – Easy Chic Brunch

Christmas in Paris

My friends and I have gathered together for Christmas brunch every single year since record albums were the coolest Christmas gifts.  This year, I decided to treat them to Christmas in Paris – one of my friends opened up her lovely Georgetown home and I threw together an easy, chic brunch with a French twist. I gathered ready-made gourmet treats from local artisans, made a couple of recipes ahead of time (inspired by a famous Parisian pastry chef and a French cookbook writer), and prepared two showstopper, easy-assemble salads. Throw on a scratchy recording of Edith Piaf’s La Vie en Rose et voilà, it’s Christmas in Paris through rose-coloured glasses.

Champage with Wild Hibiscus

Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Rose Syrup served in Champagne:

Wild Hibiscus in Rose SyrupWhen you combine Christmas and cherished friends at the same table, it’s time to pull out all the stops. I served some extra special treats to nibble and sip on as hors d’oeuvres. Rose syrup is the flavour du jour in Paris and this jar of Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Rose Syrup contains 15 handpicked wild hibiscus flowers packed in syrup made from the natural essence of two dozen Bulgarian roses. Place one flower in the bottom of a champagne flute, add some rose syrup, pour in the champagne and watch the bubbles unfurl the flower – it reminds me of the skirts flying at Le Moulin Rouge. Available as a limited edition production from Crafted Décor in Streetsville and Florence Meats in Oakville.

Pierre Hermé's Olive Sablés

Pierre Hermé’s Olive Sablés served with White Wine or Champagne:

These aren’t just any savoury cookie – they are an utterly surprising savoury French shortbread that will have your guests shocked by the initial sweetness (from the icing sugar), enamoured by the incredible tenderness (from the potato starch and grated egg yolk) and then, when the salty and fruity notes (from the oil-cured black olives and olive oil) hit the stage, you just may hear gasps followed by utterances of ooh la la…as if you were watching the latest Parisian haute couture creation walk down the runway in the city’s top fashion house. In fact, the recipe comes from famous French Pastry Chef Pierre Hermé, who is widely acclaimed as the “Couturier of Haute Pâtisserie”.

I made the dough well in advance and rolled it into logs, then froze them. When ready to bake, I took one log out at a time a few moments before baking, then sliced from frozen and baked. The recipe turned out beautifully – you simply must have it in your repertoire. How does a local gal comme moi get her hands on Pierre Hermé’s recipe? I found it in Dorie Greenspan’s charmingly chic cookbook, Around My French Table, which is available to borrow from the Mississauga Library or to buy from www.chapters.indigo.ca  It’s on my Christmas wish list – I hope my husband is reading my blog posts!

Spirit Tree Cidery's Pâté & Evelyn's Crackers

Spirit Tree Estate Cidery Pâté with Ice Cider & Shallots and Evelyn’s Currant in the Rye Crackers served with Sparkling Pear Cider:

Spirit Tree Estate Cidery Pâté with Ice Cider & Shallots is a superb pâté. Luxuriously smooth and creamy, it’s packed with the flavour of all natural ingredients: chicken livers, clarified butter, shallots, port, brandy, ice cider, Calvados, apple syrup, eggs, and spices. It’s frozen in adorable little 165g ceramic pots. I picked it up from Spirit Tree Estate Cidery a while back and stored it in my freezer, ready for Christmas entertaining. Just defrost overnight in your fridge.

Evelyn’s Currant in the Rye Crackers are the perfect match for this pâté: a hearty yet delicate cracker made with preservative-free, all natural ingredients including dried currants, fennel, anise, and caraway seeds and best of all, 100% heritage organic rye grown and milled by Ontario farmers. Evelyn’s Crackers are made by “cracker heroes” Dawn and Ed – find out what makes them heroes here: www.fiestafarms.ca/heroes.  Available at Whole Foods. For other locations throughout Ontario, click here: http://evelynscrackers.wordpress.com/wheretobuy/.

Spirit Tree Estate Cidery Sparkling Pear CiderSpirit Tree Estate Cidery Sparkling Pear Cider is a refreshing choice for those who are looking for something non-alcoholic: fresh pear, just a hint of sweetness, bubbly, and light.  It’s perfect for special celebrations.  Also available in Sparkling Sweet Apple Cider. Spirit Tree’s Mulled Apple Cider containing chopped fruit and spices would be another great choice and very festive. If you would like to learn a little bit more about Spirit Tree, read my full post here: Spirit Tree Estate Cidery: Savour the Quality.

For the main meal, I laid out an impressive line-up of store-bought gourmet goodies and two easily prepared dishes I made myself that just needed just some minor last minute preparations.

Proscuitto Wrapped Cheese Stuffed Warm Fig Salad with Arugula

Prosciutto Wrapped Fresh Figs Stuffed with Cheese on Arugula

Serves 6

This showstopper, palate-pleasing salad is a cinch to assemble à la minute. The sweetness of the figs and vinegar plays against the salty prosciutto, creamy tang of the blue cheese, and peppery punch of the arugula. If you don’t like blue cheese, feel free to use brie or chèvre instead. I used a beautiful combination of Date Crème Vinegar and Hazelnut Oil that I picked up at Crescendo World of Oils Vinegars and Spices in Toronto’s Distillery district – but extra virgin olive oil and balsamic glaze are also terrific.

Ingredients:

6 fresh figs, sliced in half from stem end to blossom end, keeping stem halves intact
1/3 cup your favourite creamy mild blue such as St. Agur or Devil’s Rock (or chèvre)
6 slices prosciutto, cut in half lengthwise
6 handfuls of baby arugula (or your favourite greens)
Hazelnut oil or extra virgin olive oil
Date Crème Vinegar or balsamic glaze
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Smear cheese on cut side of each fig half. Wrap each half with prosciutto. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator up to 4 hours before serving or bake immediately, according to the following instructions.
  2. Arrange cheese side up on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake in 425°F oven until prosciutto is crisp and cheese has melted, about 5 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, toss the greens with some salt, pepper, and oil; spread greens out on a pretty platter; place figs on top and drizzle figs and salad with vinegar. Serve warm.

Quiche Lorraine (with potato, gruyère, and bacon) from Spirit Tree Estate Cidery, butter croissants from Patisserie d'Or, Vodka Infused Smoked Salmon from Cousins Gourmet Market.

Spirit Tree Estate Cidery Quiche:

Make sure you search out the very best handcrafted quiche you can find. Spirit Tree Estate Cidery makes delicious quiche. The Quiche Lorraine is full of hearty flavour from bacon, potato, thyme, and swiss cheese. The Tomato & Spinach quiche has intensely flavoured wood-oven-dried tomatoes, sautéed spinach, thyme, and clumps of soft chèvre, all suspended in a lovely egg custard. I purchased both quiches frozen, stored them in my freezer, and baked them from frozen on the day of the brunch. I haven’t tried their Mushroom & Potato or Cauliflower quiche yet but they sound tempting.

If you can’t make it out to Spirit Tree, good quality quiche can also be found at The Hot Oven in Etobicoke, Cousin’s Gourmet Market in Port Credit, Black Forest Pastry Shop in Oakville, and Kate’s Town Talk Bakery in Streetsville (Kate also sells a really tasty Spinach & Cheese pie – another one of my favourites). Wherever you choose to purchase your quiche, be sure to call ahead to place an order in advance.

Vodka Infused Smoked Salmon:

Drape some luxurious smoked salmon on a pretty platter and garnish with lemon wedges and perhaps, capers, sliced onion, and a drizzle of olive oil. My absolute favourite is a locally produced Vodka Infused Smoked Salmon that I buy from Cousin’s Gourmet Market in Port Credit and have also found it at Domenic’s in the St. Lawrence Market. It is so tender, that it almost melts in your mouth.

Artisanal Croissants:

What would Christmas in Paris be like without really good croissants? I picked up frozen chocolate and butter croissants handcrafted at Patisserie D’Or in Oakville, stashed them in my freezer, took them out to rise overnight, then baked fresh the morning of the brunch –you can’t get easier or more delicious than that. Boy did my kitchen smell heavenly! These croissants have a buttery flavour and a nice mouthfeel.

And now for the grande finale…

Macarons from Whole Foods

French Macarons:

Buy a colourful assortment of the very best French macarons you can find. I picked up these little beauties from Whole Foods, made by La Fournette Bakery: mango, passion fruit, vanilla, raspberry, pumpkin, chocolate, pistachio, and my favourite – hazelnut.

Ispahan Parfait

Ispahan Parfait

Serves 6

This showstopper fruit salad was inspired by the beautiful flavour combination of raspberries, lychee and rose, created by famous French Pastry Chef, Pierre Hermé, as a macaron flavour, and now all the rage in Paris. You won’t really notice the rose syrup in this gorgeous and healthy parfait – just a hint of je ne sais quois. Make both the rose syrup and the pistachio dust in advance (you can even freeze them if you need to). Combine the raspberries and lychees with the syrup at the last minute, or earlier on the day of serving, if necessary. Spoon into pretty glasses and top with yogurt, almonds, and pistachio dust just before serving. Feminine, festive, and fusion-French, it’s perfect for my girlfriends’ Christmas brunch.

If you don’t want to make your own rose syrup, you can order an exquisite Wild Rose Petal Syrup from Forbes Wild Foods, a Canadian company that supplies sustainably-harvested wild foods from the Canadian wilderness to restaurants, hotels, stores, and on-line customers. To order on-line click here:  http://store.wildfoods.ca/syrups/.

Oh to be in Pierre Hermé Paris at Christmas time.

Ingredients:

1 can (560mL) whole lychees in light syrup
1 package (6 oz/170g) fresh raspberries
¼ cup reserved lychee syrup from above can
5 teaspoons Rose Syrup (see recipe below)
½ cup vanilla yogurt – such as Sheldon Creek Dairy’s Greek-style Yogurt (see note below)
6 teaspoons raw slivered almonds
3 tablespoons Pistachio Dust (see recipe below)

Directions:

  1. Drain lychees into strainer set over a medium bowl to reserve lychees and lychee syrup; slice lychees in half. Place lychees in a second medium size bowl. Add raspberries to lychee fruit.
  2. In a small bowl, combine ¼ cup lychee syrup and 5 teaspoons rose syrup; add to lychees and raspberries and toss gently. Divide fruit evenly amongst 6 small pretty cups; spoon in a little syrup.
  3. Place 1 spoonful of yogurt on top of each cup. Top each with 1 teaspoon of slivered almonds and then 1/2 tablespoon pistachio dust. Serve immediately.

Rose Syrup:

Makes just over 1/3 cup.

You’ll need rosewater, which you can find in Middle Eastern grocery stores such as Adonis. Store your rosewater and rose syrup in the fridge.

Ingredients:

1 cup water
½ cup granulated white sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon rosewater

Directions:

  1. Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan; bring to a boil, simmer rapidly, stirring occasionally, until mixture has reduced and become syrupy, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in lemon juice and rosewater. Let cool completely.
  2. Store in a covered container in refrigerator for a few days or freeze in an airtight container for longer storage. Defrost in fridge before using.

Pistachio Dust:

So pretty sprinkled on fruit salad, especially on raspberries or strawberries at Christmas time.

Ingredients:

1 cup shelled raw pistachios

Directions:

  1. Using a mini processor, grind pistachios into a fine dust. Store in an airtight container in freezer until ready to use.

Sheldon Creek Dairy Fresh Milk & Greek Style YogurtA little decadence is called for here, so look for the richest yogurt you can find. Spirit Tree Estate Cidery sells a luxuriously creamy Greek Style Vanilla Yogurt from Sheldon Creek Dairy, made with pasteurized whole milk, light brown cane sugar, vanilla extract, and bacterial culture – and nothing else! Sheldon Creek Dairy’s pasteurized Cream Top Whole Non-Homogenized Milk is nutrient-rich, all natural, and has cream that rises to the top of the bottle and separates (how milk was made before we homogenized it): shake it in the bottle for creamier milk or spoon out to add to your coffee.  Sheldon Creek Dairy is owned and operated by the den Haan family whose herd of cows graze the pastures of the Sheldon Valley, in Loretto, Ontario. Click here for other retail locations: http://sheldoncreekdairy.ca/about.php.

For further details and locations of suppliers featured in this post, check my Grocery Store Directory or Farmers’ Market Directory.

To further enhance the mood, you may wish to play the following music suggestions:

White Christmas Michael Buble & Shy’m https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/white-christmas-duet-shym/id472520445

Noel Blanc Coeur de Pirate https://itunes.apple.com/ca/artist/c-ur-de-pirate/id290621195

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Olive’s Keep Calm & Carry On Christmas Survival Guide: Christmas at Springridge Farm

I love Springridge Farms any time of year but my favourite time of year at Springridge is Christmas. What better way to get into the spirit than to take a country drive to a beautiful farm to pick up a fresh Fraser Fir Christmas tree?

Kids can decorate a freshly baked gingerbread man cookie, paint a glass ball ornament, and visit with Santa. I will never forget how awe-struck we felt when my young son and I bumped into Santa at Springridge. Santa suddenly appeared through the snowflakes, walking regally in his high leather boots, as if he had left his sleigh hidden atop the forested escarpment. He wasn’t just any Santa – he had an air about him that convinced us he was the real McCoy.  We were speechless; Santa gave us a quiet nod and a wink, and then went inside the barn to prepare for his visit with kids. It was magical.

Be sure to wander through the barn market filled with festive decorations, ornaments, giftware, and gourmet goodies. I think I’ll make another trip back to Springridge to try the Gingerbread Truffles that Springridge is now retailing: small-batch, hand-stirred chocolates made with cream, puréed gingerroot, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves by Walker’s Chocolates in Burlington.

Springridge sells a small but impressive assortment of cookbooks such as Rose Murray’s Canadian Christmas Cooking, which includes the recipe for Springridge Farm Christmas Marmalade (Springridge Farm has a line of their own small-batch, artisanal preserves, chutneys, sauces, and pickles). On Sunday December 8th from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., Springridge will hold another in a series of cookbook events, when you can meet the author, Rose Murray, and if you purchase her cookbook, she’ll sign your copy. If you plan on attending, please click here to RSVP and find out more information.

Warm up with a bowl of soup (my favourite is the heavenly Curried Chicken Coconut Soup) and a freshly baked biscuit or a freshly prepared sandwich (like Holiday Turkey) or salad with homemade dressing. Lunch is served daily from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Bring home some freshly baked gingerbread cookies and Holiday Berry pies, all made from scratch on the farm – better yet, call ahead to pre-order so you won’t be disappointed. Springridge also handcrafts a really interesting variety of frozen savoury pies, available in 9-inch and individual sizes, and brimming with yummy fillings like: Shepherd’s Pie, Turkey Sage, Pulled Pork, and Old Fashioned Tourtière. Curried Chicken pot pies are available in 9-inch-sizes only. All flavours are special enough for entertaining (you could offer a variety of savoury pies for your guests to choose from) and easy enough for hurried weeknight dinners – just pop them out of your freezer and bake as instructed. Serve them with my Sweet-Sour Purple Cabbage with Apples and a nice salad. We enjoyed our individual pies while trimming our tree. Look how high they pile the delicious filling in the Tourtière and Pulled Pork pot pies.

Springridge_Farm

Pulled Pork Pot Pie and Old Fashioned Tourtiere

Christmas at Springridge happens every weekend from November 23rd to December 15, 2013, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. There is a small charge of $5 each to paint a glass ornament or decorate a gingerbread man cookie. The farm is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., until noon December 24, 2013 when Springridge closes for the season. Re-opening April 10, 2014.

Springridge Farms
7256 Bell School Line
Milton, Ontario L9T 2Y1

Telephone: (905) 878-4908

For map, check my Farmers’ Market Directory or visit www.springridgefarm.com

Speaking of tree trimming……three Christmas trees decorated…CHECK!!!:

  1. Gumdrops and Lollipops themed tree, designed by Cobi Ladner for Toronto’s Gardiner Museum’s 12 Trees of Christmas Charity Gala. Purchased by Frank Bowman and Aaron Milrad and donated to Princess Margaret Hospital Cancer Centre.
  2. Magic Pennies Mitten Tree on behalf of Streetsville United Church Magic Pennies Kids Community Outreach for Village of Streetsville.
  3. Our own family tree mishmash of sentimental ornaments.
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Hot Off The Olive Press: November 10, 2013

Headline News:

Did you hear the details of the latest high-risk health hazard food recall or allergy alert issued by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency? If your answer is no, consider subscribing to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s email notification services and receive prompt, detailed, and accurate information directly in your in-box. Subscribe here: www.inspection.gc.ca. Or follow on twitter @CFIA_Food. For a list of the most recent public advisories on allergy alerts and high-risk food recalls click here: www.inspection.gc.ca/about-the-cfia/newsroom/food-recall-warnings

Grocery Store Find:

Unearthed: Mycryo powdered cocoa butter, a new form of healthier cooking, at Cousin’s Gourmet Market in Port Credit and on-line at www.goldaskitchen.com

Farm Market Find:

Spirit Tree Estate Cidery’s sparkling apple cider is ready now! Perfect for holiday entertaining. Try some out in their bistro and enjoy a delicious lunch too. Read more info here: www.olivetoeat.com

Restaurant News:

Paramount Fine Foods at Erin Mills Town Centre is opening at 8:00 a.m. on Friday November 15, 2013. Read about my visit to Paramount’s Crestlawn Drive location here:  www.olivetoeat.com

Port Credit’s newly renovated Snug Harbour looks modern, spacious, and beautiful. The Roasted Beet Salad with arugula, chèvre, and a well-balanced sweet honey vinaigrette is delicious.

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Hot Off The Olive Press: November 1, 2013

Food Events:

The Shop For All Reasons will be hosting a Chocolate Tasting this Sunday November 3rd 2013, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. What a great opportunity to discover some top-quality lines of finely crafted chocolate, including Olivia (from Quebec), Tcho (San Francisco), Amedei (Italy), Rogers (Victoria), and M Thompson (Toronto). Owner John Viola has built up an impressive gourmet section in this lovely Streetsville gift shop. John is passionate about the gourmet lines he carries and happy to share his knowledge of them with you. Think about stocking up on some gourmet chocolate for Christmas baking or gifts.

The Shop For All Reasons
228 Queen Street South
Streetsville, ON L5M 1L5
 
Telephone: 905-858-9623
www.shopforallreasons.com

Food Trucks:

Curb Your Appetite Food Truck Wednesdays will deliver gourmet food trucks to the curb of CIT Financial, 5035 South Service Road, near Appleby Line, Burlington. Running the next three Wednesday nights from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., November 6th, 13th, and 20th 2013. Visit Ontario Food Trucks website for more info: www.ontariofoodtrucks.com.

Farm Market Finds:

Springridge Farm will be hosting an Author Meet & Greet Book Signing event, featuring celebrity chef Ricardo and his new cookbook, Slow Cooker Favourites. Sunday November 3rd 2013, from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. **RSVP: [email protected]**

Springridge Farm
7256 Bell School Line
Milton, Ontario
L9T 2Y1
 
Telephone: (905) 878-4908
www.springridgefarm.com

Restaurant News:

Renovations have been completed and The Host restaurant in Mississauga has recently reopened, with a new modern look and new menu. The Host serves fine Indian cuisine. Please note that The Host is reserved for a private corporate dinner event on Thursday November 7, 2013.

Happy Diwali! I love watching the colourful fireworks bursting over the Streetsville horizon during the festival of lights.

The Host
33 City Centre Drive
Mississauga, ON L5B 2N5
 
Telephone: 905-566-4678
www.welcometohost.com
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Spirit Tree Estate Cidery: Savour the Quality

Even if you are not a fan of cider, don’t miss an opportunity to enjoy a scenic drive to Spirit Tree Estate Cidery, an artisan cider mill gracing the Niagara Escarpment, in the picturesque hills of Caledon. While farm-fresh apples and carefully crafted cider are at the root of the Spirit Tree experience, there is much more to this story.

Of course, there are delicious sweet and hard ciders to sample in Spirit Tree’s tasting room or purchase in their farm store, as well as apples already-picked from the estate’s orchards.

spirit_tree_estate_cidery

I look forward to a glass of sweet apple cider in the fall, but I am a novice when it comes to hard ciders. To learn more about Spirit Tree Estate Cidery’s award-winning, artisanal ciders, click the Our Ciders tab and the Press tab on their website link at the end of this post.

What I find exceptional about Spirit Tree Estate Cidery is the attention to detail and high-quality standards that owners and founders Thomas Wilson and Nicole Judge have poured into their business, starting with their cider but apparent throughout their operations.

spirit_tree_estate_cidery

Nestled in the heart of their award-winning straw bale building is a specially designed wood-fired oven with thick stone masonry that retains heat for hours, even after the fire burns down and is cleaned out of the oven. From that oven, come some wonderful things.

spirit_tree_cidery

Artisanal bread is handcrafted using old European techniques and preservative-free, natural ingredients, then baked fresh daily, directly on the clean oven hearth. There are several beautiful varieties of bread to choose from, including Caledon Sourdough, Red Fife Whole Wheat, Boston Mills Multigrain, and Epi (gorgeous French-inspired baguettes styled after wheat stalks).

spirit_tree_estate_cidery

I brought home a Tartine loaf – a Spirit Tree favourite, with a chewy crust and delicious interior.

spirit_tree_estate_cidery

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Spirit Tree’s Maple Walnut Granola is roasted in the wood-fired oven. It has a crisp texture with a pleasing maple flavour that is not too rich or too sweet. It’s made from rolled oats, brown sugar, maple, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, almonds, pecans, vegetable oil, and vanilla. Healthy never tasted so good!

Whole pies and quiches (filled with a variety of delicious ingredients) are baked fresh on the premises and available ready-to-eat or frozen. I picked up a frozen Quiche Lorraine filled with bacon, potato, thyme and swiss cheese. I have it stored in my freezer, ready for an easy brunch. For Thanksgiving, consider pumpkin pie or gluten-free Applicious pumpkin pie, but be sure to call in advance to pre-order. Cheese buns, cinnamon buns, tarts, cookies, and scones (which are delicious, according to my sister) are offered daily.

Spirit Tree Estate Cidery even makes a couple of enticing gourmet pâtés. I picked up Pâté with Ice Cider & Shallots – the ingredients sound delectable: chicken livers, clarified butter, shallots, port, brandy, ice cider, Calvados, apple syrup, eggs, spices. It’s frozen in adorable little 165g ceramic pots – I am storing it in my freezer for Christmas entertaining.

The owners’ insistence on quality, natural ingredients is evident again in the gourmet food they bring in from local artisans. Spirit Tree’s farm store is filled with fine quality, artisanal gourmet food – a gourmet gal’s dream.

merediths_ginger_syrupMeredith’s Ginger Syrup is a fusion of fresh ginger root extracts and natural honey raised on Meredith’s organic farm in Meaford, Ontario. My favourite way to add this healthy elixir to my diet it is to add the juice of half a lemon and a dash of cayenne powder to 1 cup of hot or cold water, then stir in two tablespoons of Meredith’s Ginger Syrup for a rejuvenating morning habit that my friend Angela has got me started on. Of course, you can omit the cayenne and the lemon and enjoy a lovely, soothing drink of spicy ginger that will warm you from the inside out.

Handcrafted in small batches at the Deerhurst resort in Muskoka by chef Shelley Westgarth, Belly Ice Cream is served in some of the finest restaurants (such as the Ritz Carlton’s TOCA) and sold in several of the finest gourmet food stores throughout Ontario (including Spirit Tree Estate Cidery). Shelley uses locally-sourced, all natural, preservative-free ingredients and dreams up a variety of creative, gourmet flavours like these.

belly_ice_cream_company

I bought Dulce de Leche with Spiced Chocolate ice cream – did they know I was coming? This flavour was made for me: dulce de leche caramel ice cream, toffee bits and thin wafers of Belgian dark chocolate that melt on your tongue and leave you with a little kick of heat. A variety of amazing flavours, sold in 500 mL containers or individual serving sizes, are available at Spirit Tree Estate Cidery.

You will also find Sheldon Creek Dairy products (such as traditional unhomogenized milk with cream on the top), Wicked Shortbread, Roothman’s Gourmet Preserves, and a bounty of other gourmet goodies.

spirit_tree_estate_cidery

My sister and I enjoyed a light lunch in the tasting room. The high ceilings, rustic decor, and touches of elegant black or white calligraphy scrolled on the walls and blackboards made us feel like we were eating in a charming French mas (farmhouse). You can also eat on the outdoor porch or the picnic tables scattered on the lawn, if the weather permits. Brunch and lunch are served from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily. Daily sandwiches and a farmhouse charcuterie platter are also on the menu.

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The atmosphere is casual but the quality of the food is superb. The daily quiche was filled with wood-oven-dried tomatoes, sautéed spinach, thyme and chèvre, all suspended in a lovely egg custard. It came with a healthy side salad of barley, red quinoa, baby arugula, and diced vegetables.

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Our gracious and knowledgeable server, Alyssa, informed us that the daily soup (mushroom) was made with homemade vegetable stock, fresh rosemary from the garden, and a just a hint of cream. It was chock-full of mushrooms and had a full mushroom flavour – the best mushroom soup I have had in a long time.  Soup is served with slices of Spirit Tree’s delicious Country French bread.

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I couldn’t resist and ordered both a well-prepared café latté and a freshly-pressed sweet cider that tasted like apple in a glass – so much fresher tasting than mass-produced, grocery store apple juice that has been processed, filtered, treated, sweetened, and watered down.

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Friday night is pizza night. Though I haven’t had the opportunity to try Spirit Tree’s hand-tossed, wood-fired oven pizza yet, I am told that it is a real treat. Pizza toppings range from traditional to creative, quality ingredients. To an adventurous eater like me, the Cider House Blues pizza sounds heavenly: caramelized onions, wood-oven roasted potatoes, sliced apples, mozzarella, blue cheese, rosemary, and walnuts drizzled with honey. Oh my! Pizzas are served from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and are baked to order, so call ahead. You can either take your pizza to go or enjoy it on Spirit Tree’s picnic tables, when weather permits.

Visit Spirit Tree Estate Cidery on Saturdays or Sundays at 2:00 p.m. for a drop-in, guided tour ($5 includes free-tasting) or check the website for details on pre-booked group tours. Sparkling sweet apple cider will be available in October, when Mother Nature dictates.

Fall is the perfect time of year to take a scenic drive through Caledon to Spirit Tree Estate Cidery. When I went with my sister last week, the leaves were just beginning to be tinged with colour. I’ll be back at Thanksgiving for more cider and again closer to Christmas to stock up on gourmet goodies for easy entertaining. I’d love to make it to the wassailing ceremony on Family Day in February, to sing to the apple trees. Stay tuned to my blog for more information, closer to the date. Whenever you go, bring a cooler to safely transport any frozen goodies home.

Spirit Tree Estate Cidery
1137 Boston Mills Road
Caledon, Ontario, Canada
L7C 0N1
 
Telephone: 905-838-2530
 
Open:
Wednesday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Thursday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Sunday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
 
www.spirittreecider.com
 


View Larger Map

Belly Ice Cream Company: www.bellyicecreamcompany.ca

Meredith’s Ginger Syrup: www.meredithsginger.ca

Roothmans Gourmet Preserves: www.roothamsgourmet.com

Sheldon Creek Dairy: www.sheldoncreekdairy.ca

Wicked Shortbread: https://www.facebook.com/wickedshortbread

 

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