Sunday, May 22, 2011

Need a culinary weekend getaway that's still close to Toronto? Try Hockley Valley Resort

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Hockley Valley Resort is a resort one hour from Toronto (near Orangeville). We had the good fortune of touring the resort, eating at one of its three restaurants, and meeting their General Manager John Paul Adamo via the folks at Pilot PMR who gave us and a few other bloggers a lift (thank you!)

Upon walking into the resort, there is very much a family feeling about the place, which is likely because it's a family-owned business (it was first purchased by John Paul's father and, at the time, it needed a lot of work). Mark and I found it to be both sophisticated and stylish without being pretentious.

Here's a quick rundown on the resort's three restaurants Babbo, Tavola, Restaurant 85 as well as the wine cellar's "table for two" and their Farmer's Market:

  • Eating at Tavola is a unique and participatory experience - first, you get to walk in their garden and pick items that their talented chefs will turn into your dinner - talk about fresh and local. You can also go into their kitchen and write a message on the kitchen walls - I could've stayed in there all day reading all the messages (which are now creeping onto the cieling). You'll get to start off your meal by tasting the chefs' in-house cured meats and cheeses, and you'll also get a tour of the wine cellar. Tavola consists of a single table in a separate room beside the kitchen, so it's very intimate - not like a restaurant at all but more like sitting around a dinner table with friends and family.

  • Restaurant 85 seats the largest number of people and, as far as we know, is the newest of the three restaurants.

  • Babbo is somewhere in between the other two restaurants in size, and it looked like a great place to grab a drink and relax.

  • We thought this idea was genius - there was a table for two in the area where they keep their wines - no, it's not a wine cellar in the basement, it's a beautiful glassed-in walk-in wine cellar. That would probably qualify as the quietest, most intimate dinner you could have with another person since it literally is just the two of you - that would be the PERFECT gift for a pair of married wine-lovers: Spend your anniversary dinner in there!

  • The resort holds a Farmer's Market every third Sunday. They don't charge the vendors anything. Jean Paul emphasized repeatedly that it's not a revenue stream for them, but rather it's their way of showing support for local producers.
For those who want to do more than just eat while at Hockley, (weirdos!) there is skiing and snowshoeing in the winter, and in the summer they have a great saltwater pool and a golf course. There is also a year-round spa.

In case you are curious about exactly what we ate at Tavola, here's the full menu - can I just add that the Tawse Gewurtztraminer was TO DIE FOR?! We were served different wines with each meal from Ontario and Italy and the Gewurtz was, as usual, my favourite. Favourite dish was the cod wrapped in prosciutto, hands down. Also really appreciated the neat idea to candy celery and put it in a dessert - very unique and actually worked quite well in terms of flavour!

Executive Chef: Rabii Jaouhari
Restaurant Chef: Daniel Mezzolo

First Course:
Served in Kitchen
House-cured & Imported Cheese & Salumi

Second Course:
Potato Soup
Crispy asparagus, parmigiano foam, truffle oil
2008 Viewpoint Estate Winery, Arneis, VQA Lake Erie North Shore, ON

Third Course:
Scampi Bagna Cauda
Slow poached in olive oil & thyme
2010 Tawse, Gewurztraminer, Quarry Road VQA Niagara, ON

Fourth Course:
Filled with 3 years aged parmigiano cream, Pingue speck
2007 Le Clos Jordanne, Oaked Chardonnay, Jordan Station, ON

Fifth Course:
Fiddlehead Risotto
Braised fresh house sausage
2008 Foreign Affair, Sauvignon Blanc, VQA Niagara Peninsula, ON

Sixth Course:
Pingue prosciutto wrapped, quenelle of rapini & garlic, braised shallots, carrot cream,
2007 Brovia, Barbera D’Alba DOC, Italy

Seventh Course:
Suckling Pig
Rosemary roasted apples, Dijon mustard sauce
1994 Antica Sleva Di Meana, Pinot Nero, Scambia, Allerona, Italy

Eighth Course:
Melon granita, semifreddo, fizzy, limoncello foam, candied celery
2004 Daniel Lenko, Select Harvest Vidal, VQA Niagara, ON

Ninth Course:
Pistachio crème brulee + raspberry, apricot, orange house made truffle + orange vanilla marscapone cake with raspberry & strawberry sauce

Also have to give a big shoutout to Hockley Honey for the amazing creamed white organic unpasteurized wildflower honey (try saying that five times fast!) they gave us. Delicious!

Yours in food,


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