New foodie destinations bring great food and natural experiences together. Take your tastebuds for a day trip to bustling working farms, where culinary offerings are presentened against spectacular pastoral backdrops.
In the fall of 2020, Christa De Benedetti moved to Low, Quebec, with a vision for farm-to-table food. By mid-December, she had opened a store at Boreal Farm, and in spring 2021 a commercial kitchen. Since then, this former Les Fougères cook has been offering mouth-watering treats to take home or enjoy in bucolic surroundings. It’s tempting to stay to take in the pastoral views.
The Boreal patio is open all summer. “This farm café is all about cooking with as much stuff growing and being produced on this farm and the land itself,” says De Benedetti. “Canning and preserves come from the kitchen garden, while there are bountiful eggs from our hens, honey from our bees, and milk from our Nubian goats.” She also has plans to make cheese, yogurt, butter, and ice cream.
A lifetime of experience in the food industry means that De Benedetti sees opportunity around every corner. She offers workshops and luxury glamping (with gourmet breakfasts delivered to the tent door), and is planning monthly dinners. More events are planned, as well as weekly outdoor yoga, and brunch.
Once you’ve taken a stroll around the property, sated your hunger from De Benedetti’s gourmet menu, and filled your basket with take-home goodies, you can also pick-your-own flowers and gather pumpkins come fall. It’s enough to keep a farmloving foodie happy all season long.
Boreal Farm, 70 Chem. Lac Bernard, Low, Quebec
A visit to Juniper Farm, just outside Wakefield, Quebec, is balm to the soul of anybody who is looking for nature immersion with a serving of good food. Here, you can easily pass a couple of hours visiting with chickens, dogs, cats, donkeys, as well as a pot-bellied pig and a rabbit, all while admiring the endless rows of perfect organic, biodynamic vegetables that stretch into the distance.
Through a takeout window, find nutritious and creative food by award-winning chef Caroline Ishii. She has designed the menu of take-home products such as salads and dressings, soups, and bowls, as well as veggie-inspired muffins, and sandwiches stuffed with fresh ingredients including pesto, greens, house pickles, and roasted veggies. Enjoy them at a picnic table just a few feet away. (Food miles travelled here are essentially zero.)
Inside the cheerful yellow 100-year-old farm store, find farm-grown fresh vegetables and fruit, honey from Apiverte hives, house-made products such as kimchi and sauerkraut, as well as beef, lamb, and goat meat from farmers who live on neighbouring land. Watch for seedling sales in May, as well as musical family farm mornings through the summer.
Take a stroll through the fields and see a truly working farm. “Just please don’t bring your dog because we have so many sweet furry and feathered friends,” pleads Juniper Turgeon, co-owner of the farm with Alex Mackay-Smith. “We like to think of our farm and its offerings as a dose of homeopathy to help recalibrate in this liminal world.
Juniper Farm, 375 Chem. Shouldice, Wakefield, Quebec
Back Forty Cheese
For cheese lovers, a visit to Back Forty Artisan Cheese on the banks of the fast-running Mississippi River is a must. On a 160-acre farm an hour west of Ottawa near Mississippi Station, Jeff and Jenna Fenwick keep sheep and highland cattle, as well as chickens and pigs. They also have an on-site creamery. The couple turned to farming 10 years ago. They work with four local family-run farms, using the milk from approximately 300 animals to make their cheeses. They also keep pasture-raised lamb for meat. Now visitors can sample the bounty at an outdoor tasting bar.
The Fenwicks’ cheese is handmade in small batches and aged from two to 12 months; they specialize in six different varieties of raw ewe milk cheese. With names such as Madawaska, Bonnechere, and Calabogie Blue (that last one made from raw water buffalo milk), Back Forty cheeses offer a true taste of the terroir. “We also craft some pasta filata (stretch curd) -style cheeses, which provide phenomenal melting quality, and you’ll find these featured on items such as pizzas, calzones, and grilled cheese sandwiches,” says Jeff.
The goal is to feature as much food as possible that is grown or raised on-site, or that comes from local farm partners. “We believe our menu is unique, as we craft the cheese, raise the livestock, and grow some of the fruits, vegetables, and herbs. All our meals are cooked outdoors with traditional wood fire,” explains Jeff. “Meals will feature our whey-fed heritage pork, wild boar, and lamb, to complement our cheeses and organic produce.”
During the summer, visitors will be able to enjoy the fine food beside outdoor firepits. With a liquor licence pending, what’s not to love?
Back Forty Artisan Cheese
1406 Gulley Road, Mississippi Station, Ontario