By Laura Byrne Paquet
Just because you’re heading to the country for a bit of rural R&R doesn’t mean you have to go without fancy mustards, artisanal sausages, or excellent cheeses. From dairies and duck farms to bistros and smokehouses, back roads are filled with destinations for the adventurous gourmet. Just one word of advice: call ahead, as hours (particularly for farm-based shops) change frequently.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll post listings for these small operations, many of which are seasonal. Please keep in mind that farmers are usually juggling a lot of other duties besides the shop. A sign at the Elk Ranch in Carp advises visitors to ring the bell for service but to be patient: “We’re raising four kids and over 80 elks!”
We’d love to hear from you: do you have a favourite bakery? Please share your finds in our comments section.
Technically, it’s much more than a bakery. For starters, you can pick your own apples here in season, and you can buy jams, jellies, cider, and more. But the star attractions, at least for me, are the baked goods: fresh apple pie, apple bread, apple cookies, and apple cakes. The caramel apple pie is outstanding. Getting there is half the fun — you either drive along one of the prettiest country roads in eastern Ontario or moor your boat at the nearby Kilmarnock Lock on the Canal and take a walk up the hill. Open mid-August to mid-October. 1182 Kilmarnock Rd., Jasper, 613-284-9843 (in season), 613-283-8964, www.kilmarnockorchard.ca.
Little Stream Bakery
Since 1992, the folks at Little Stream have been baking ultra-healthy breads. The current bakery is housed in a converted dairy about six kilometres west of Perth. It’s not a fancy place — the shop is appended to the big kitchen, which supplies health-food stores from Sault Ste. Marie to Halifax — but the service is friendly, and the yeast-free breads are seriously sturdy. A sandwich made from the dense millet flax loaf, for instance, will fill you up for hours. Spelt, kamut, and gluten-free breads are available; shoppers with a sweet tooth can get organic cookies, spelt carrot cake, and vegan apple turnovers, among other treats. 667 Glen Tay Rd., Perth, 613-267-9712, www.littlestream.com.
Pan Chancho Bakery
Okay, I’ll concede that Kingston isn’t exactly a small town. It is, however, a major hub for visitors to the southern Rideau Lakes and the Thousand Islands. Cottagers planning a memorable brunch should try Pan Chancho, a spacious establishment in downtown Kingston that does a brisk business in baguettes, ciabatta, olive and rosemary sourdough, and many other breads, as well as brunch treats such as raspberry scones and apricot pumpkin muffins. If you have your heart set on something particular, call ahead or check the website to be sure they’re making it that day. Opens at 7 a.m. daily. 44 Princess St., Kingston, 613-544-7790, www.panchancho.com.
This local fixture recently moved into new digs in the Au Coeur du Village complex, but it still produces fresh, inventive, organic fare: all sorts of breads, spelt muffins with wild blueberries, ginger-chai cookies, and scone/crumpet hybrids called scrumpets that sell out fast (I’m still on a quest to try the ginger-almond scrumpets, which my Wakefield friends Doris and Jo swear by). If you’re shopping for dinner, try the vegetarian tourtière or black bean empanadas. 757, ch. Riverside, Wakefield, 819-459-3961.
Run by a Swiss-Canadian couple, this small shop is a fine place to stock up on bread, tarts, cookies, and pies. My friend Madelaine, who lives nearby, is a fan of the wholesome breads, and I can attest that the ginger cookies are excellent fuel for a long country drive. 33 Main St., Westport, 613-273-7245.
From Food for Thought by Laura Byrne Paquet, first published in the Summer 2011 issue of Ottawa Magazine.