Into the Blue

…Moun­tains, that is. Take a bite out of On­tario big ap­ple coun­try

DINE and Destinations - - DRINK - www.blue­moun­tainvil­lage.ca www.ap­plepi­etrail.com

TIME WAS, COLLINGWOOD BUILT LAKE FREIGHTERS, NAVY TRAWLERS AND ICE BREAK­ERS.

It then de­vel­oped as a win­ter des­ti­na­tion for ski­ing and even­tu­ally be­came an all sea­son des­ti­na­tion for hik­ing, cav­ing, golf­ing, pad­dling and zip lin­ing. Then, from Ge­or­gian Bay's fruit bas­ket, ap­ples be­came the core of tourism.

What we've dis­cov­ered is, an es­cape to The Blue Moun­tains, with its end­less out­door ac­tiv­i­ties and fes­ti­vals, of­fers many ways to ap­pre­ci­ate and en­joy On­tario's quin­tes­sen­tial fruit: the ap­ple.

EAT

A de­cid­edly Euro­pean in­flu­ence in mood and menu, the Heav­enly

Café is renowned for its warm caramel ap­ple cin­na­mon buns. This is the stuff that dreams are made of. Other daily de­lights in­clude ap­ple puffs, ap­ple flan with caramel and pecan, and brie and ap­ple on a crois­sant with honey and wal­nuts. I sink into bliss and am down for the count. At The Cheese Gallery in Thorn­bury, we sam­ple a va­ri­ety of lo­cal cheese, and pair hard cider with a tangy clas­sic grilled ap­ple­wood smoked ched­dar sand­wich. Across the street at

Bruce Wine Bar & Kitchen an in­struc­tive wine menu of Old and New World, and On­tario and B.C. ac­com­pa­nies a pas­sion for char­cu­terie and fresh lo­cal pro­duce. We pair Cof­fin Ridge For­bid­den Dry Cider with a colour­ful salad of lo­cal ap­ples, herbs, seeds and grains in maple cider vinai­grette. Live mu­sic plays as we savour ten­der braised short rib in a red wine re­duc­tion with crisp po­tato and a vibrant car­rot puree. At Az­zurra Trat­to­ria we rest our palates on pillow-y sweet po­tato gnoc­chi with smoked ba­con, crispy sage, ap­ple and maple syrup. Flavours abound.

DRINK

Within Blue Moun­tain Vil­lage, Fire­hall Pizza Co. has cre­ated my new favourite cock­tail, Cana­dian Buf­falo, with all the in­gre­di­ents I love: bour­bon, maple syrup and ap­ple cider. There's noth­ing more re­fresh­ing then a pa­tio seat by the pond with a cool glass of ap­ple-y sweet­ness and smoky bour­bon. Side Launch Brew­ing

Com­pany crafts Wheat Beer with notes of ba­nana, vanilla and cloves; a Moun­tain Lager and Dark Lager made true to style; and clean Pale Ale that is bal­anced and ver­sa­tile for pair­ing. They also make doggy bis­cuits from spent grains and lo­cal ap­ples. Side Launch is the side­ways method by which the mas­sive ships that were built here for more than 100 years were launched into the wa­ter. Collingwood was one of the only places in North Amer­ica to do that.

In win­ter, “snow­shoe wine tast­ings” lead us to Ge­or­gian

Hills Vine­yards where am­brosial iced ap­ple wine, Frozen to

the Core, is made from frozen Ida Red ap­ples. Their range of pre­mium dry ciders in­cludes sparkling. Combined with lo­cal beer, Big John Hops Cider is unique with flo­ral hops, spice and cit­rus. Cider is be­com­ing so pop­u­lar across On­tario, and nowhere is it more preva­lent than in The Blue Moun­tains area where it is pro­duced.

For a flight of cham­pagnestyle cider we head to Thorn­bury Vil­lage Cider House & Brew­ery.

Pre­mium and Cran­berry are a lively splash of ef­fer­ves­cence, but Lo­cal Honey Ap­ple and

Spiced Ap­ple are lus­cious. They're like drink­ing a smooth glass of strudel or French toast. T&K Ferri

Or­chards uses an Ital­ian su­per spin­dle sys­tem of tall rows of trees with a nar­row canopy to cap­ture more sun­light for more in­tense su­gar. “Mother na­ture is our busi­ness part­ner,” they tell me. Their Hon­ey­crisp can ri­val any in the world; and their cider blend of Hon­ey­crisp, Matsu and Court­land is in­tensely fruity with ripe melon and sweet trop­i­cal nu­ances. It is pure nec­tar of the Gods. Gif­fen’s Coun­try Mar­ket of­fers 17 dif­fer­ent kinds of ap­ples. It's a pop­u­lar spot for break­fast and lunch, and their fresh ap­ple pies are in high de­mand. When is the right time to eat ap­ple pie? I ask. “Right out of the oven.” They

re­ply. Their ap­ple crum­ble but­ter tart with a touch of cin­na­mon has lux­u­ri­ous mouth feel with its flaky crust and op­u­lent fill­ing. I pair it with their cider, pressed di­rectly from the ap­ple. Its flo­ral bou­quet is fol­lowed with blended notes of hon­ey­dew, golden pear and ly­chee. I've never wanted to drink so much cider in my life.

DO

This is ap­ple coun­try. Even lo­cal artists and jew­el­ers have taken a bite. At Bon­nie Dorgelo

Jew­ellery & Paint­ings ap­ples in­spire all the art­work. In ad­di­tion to acrylic and ink paint­ings on wooden blocks, there are charm­ing lo­cally made ap­ple neck­laces and ear­rings.

While the say­ing goes, “an ap­ple a day keeps the doc­tor away,” there is no more ther­a­peu­tic or re­vi­tal­iz­ing sen­sory ex­pe­ri­ence than the de­tox­i­fi­ca­tion and re­ju­ve­na­tion of Scan­di­nave Spa Blue Moun­tain

tucked into the quiet woods. Be­tween the out­door ther­mal baths, Fin­nish sauna and Nor­we­gian steam bath, I plunge into the cold baths and lounge by the fire at the out­door re­lax­ation area. Re­cent de­vel­op­ments in­clude a quiet so­lar­ium fac­ing the pond, and an in­frared sauna in which my body ab­sorbs heat with­out the room be­com­ing over­heated, so it's eas­ier to stretch out and breath.

The or­chards of Ge­or­gian Bay pro­duce 25 per­cent of On­tario's ap­ples. From the Ap­ple Pie Trail through The Blue Moun­tains to the out­door ad­ven­tures along the Bruce Penin­sula, there is no bet­ter way to ex­plore a taste of On­tario than to hike up to the high­est point in the Ni­a­gara Es­carp­ment look­ing out over the end­less blue of the bay, with a crisp juicy ap­ple in one hand, a sweet cider in the other and, of course, an ap­ple pie to share.

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