A Lo­cal’s Guide to Strat­ford

DINE and Destinations - - ONTARIO - By Adam Wax­man

Shake­speare, Justin Bieber, ba­con and many other es­sen­tials might come to

mind when plan­ning a trip to Strat­ford. Here are 10 tips for a great get­away.

1.

The Strat­ford Fes­ti­val of­fers the great­est se­lec­tion of plays and mu­si­cals in Canada. Board the Strat­ford Di­rect pri­vate bus ser­vice from Toronto for $20 re­turn, and re­lax. In ad­di­tion to the shows, the Fes­ti­val of­fers the­atre tours, gar­den tours, and a tour of the third-largest cos­tume and props ware­house in the world, where you can try on cos­tumes from past sea­sons. Check out The Fo­rum for pan­els, de­bates, sym­posia, ex­hi­bi­tions, and Food For Thought—a buf­fet lunch se­ries fol­lowed by a talk on one of this sea­son’s plays or mu­si­cals. Ay me! What to choose?

2.

All the world is in­deed a stage, as more than 100 events fea­tur­ing more than 350 di­verse artists, lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional, per­form in­side, out­side, in his­toric churches, and on the Avon River for the Sum­mer Mu­sic Fes­ti­val. What could be more ro­man­tic than a stroll through the park while be­ing ser­e­naded by mu­si­cians float­ing on a barge? If you love to sing, why not join the Sym­po­sium Choir for the week­end?

3.

Art in the Park is an unas­sum­ing ex­hi­bi­tion of lo­cal artists that en­rich and colour­ize a leisurely walk along the Avon River. Min­gle with ar­ti­sans while ad­mir­ing their work. This ju­ried gath­er­ing weaves through the park by the swans and river ev­ery Wed­nes­day, Satur­day and Sun­day dur­ing the sum­mer.

4.

Ev­ery Satur­day morn­ing The Strat­ford Farm­ers’ Mar­ket is where ac­tors, ar­ti­sans, lo­cals and vis­i­tors alike mix with farm­ers and pur­chase fresh fruits and veg­eta­bles, flow­ers and plants, meats, jams, and ev­ery culi­nary need for the week. It’s less ex­pen­sive than the su­per­mar­ket, and ev­ery­thing is lo­cal. Buy di­rectly from farm­ers and bring home what was har­vested only hours be­fore. Also, check out the Slow Food Mar­ket, with live mu­sic ev­ery Sun­day, in the cen­tral Mar­ket Square be­side City Hall.

5.

Avon Boat Ren­tals of­fers a nar­rated boat tour. You can also rent kayaks, a pad­dle­boat or canoe, and drift, lunch, read and laze away an hour or two. Stop at the is­land for some shade be­neath the weep­ing wil­lows; ex­plore trib­u­taries and the Shake­spearean gar­dens; pad­dle the length of the river; or sim­ply pad­dle to the the­atre. (Grains are avail­able for feed­ing the swans.)

6.

See Strat­ford from the sky! Strat­ford Air­port of­fers 30-minute in­tro­duc­tory flights for a one-on-one, hands-on ex­pe­ri­ence fly­ing a plane. Do you have a feel for this? Con­tinue to­ward a pi­lot li­cense. Sight­see­ing flights are also avail­able for cou­ples or for a trio of friends. Do you want to go over the city? The farms? The lake? Do some­thing dif­fer­ent and cre­ate your own route.

7.

Strat­ford of­fers an eclec­tic range of tours. Be­gin­ning with the se­duc­tive Rheo Thomp­son “mint smoothie,” there is a pro­lif­er­a­tion of ar­ti­sanal choco­lates around town. Take your sweet tooth and your sweet­heart along the Choco­late Trail. Strat­ford is the home of the On­tario Pork Congress. Lo­cal farm­ers know their ba­con, and lo­cal chefs know their farm­ers. For ev­ery­thing from ba­con but­ter tarts to ba­con tooth­paste, check out the Ba­con & Ale Trail. Maps are avail­able for strolling and cy­cling, and bikes are avail­able for rent at To­tally Spoke’d. Beliebe it or not, there is also a Justin Bieber’s Strat­ford map that you can fol­low to see where it all be­gan.

8.

Strat­ford loves cof­fee. Check out Revel Caffé’s unique cold-pressed cof­fee, as well as in­ti­mate monthly cof­fee-pair­ing din­ners ac­com­pa­nied by live jazz. Mon­forte cheese is the pride of Strat­ford. This osteria serves bio­dy­namic VQA wines, as well as craft beer and cider to com­ple­ment their se­lec­tion of cheese, as well as a sim­ple daily menu of lo­cal in­gre­di­ents, in­clud­ing the crunchi­est, most de­lec­ta­ble grilled-cheese sand­wiches. Try a cap­puc­cino frothed with sheep or wa­ter buf­falo milk. Tea Leaves Tea Tast­ing Bar is run by Canada’s premier tea som­me­lier who, like an apothe­cary, stands be­fore her wall of tea and gen­tly as­sesses the right tea for you. Sip flights or spe­cial tast­ings. There is also a se­ries of cook­ing classes, med­i­ta­tion, chi gung in the gar­den, and herbal and holis­tic work­shops on stress man­age­ment, body care and nu­tri­tion.

9.

Not-to-be missed shops down­town: Brad­shaws is the place to shop in Strat­ford for kitchen­ware, table­ware, wine glasses and de­canters, home decor, and bath and body prod­ucts. A vast se­lec­tion of the best-sourced prod­ucts from around the world in­cludes unique Cana­dian-de­signed mer­chan­dise. The Bark­ery is a full-scale, all-nat­u­ral bak­ery for dogs. Freshly baked, nu­tri­tious home­made treats from lo­cal farm­ers, in­clud­ing fruits, veg­gies, seeds, all-nat­u­ral peanut but­ter, emu, ba­con and cheese. Try doggy brown­ies, dough­nuts, birth­day cakes or “post­man’s fin­gers.” Kitchen Con­nais­seur is where we shop for spe­cialty food prod­ucts from sauces, oils, vine­gars, rubs and spices, to gift bas­kets and cook­ing ideas. Savoury sauces like Ca­jun spice and sun­dried tomato; dessert sauces like maple cap­puc­cino and sun­dried cherry; Moroc­can and Span­ish spice blends; flavour-in­fused oils; and chut­neys like pome­gran­ate and mango stim­u­late our imag­i­na­tion, while sam­ples and recipes stim­u­late our palates.

10.

Savour Strat­ford Perth County Culi­nary Fes­ti­val is the largest culi­nary fes­ti­val in Canada. It at­tracts the big­gest names in food and wine from around the world—it dou­bles the pop­u­la­tion and ex­cites our ap­petites. Strat­ford is the culi­nary cap­i­tal of On­tario. Ex­pe­ri­ence the so­phis­ti­ca­tion of On­tario’s culi­nary evo­lu­tion here.

www.vis­it­strat­ford.ca

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