A Trip to Mad Michael’s in Wyebridge

I recently traversed along the Huronia Food Trail on the media bus tour, which availed me the opportunity to explore the north eastern tip of our fine County as a passenger, and as such I was able to completely immerse myself in the experience and focus on their motto, “Taste our roots”.

The Huronia Food Tour is an initiative of the Simcoe County Farm Fresh Marketing Association.

This self-guided tour provides families with a wonderful opportunity; introducing you first hand to local food, from farmer and producer, to restaurants, retailers and cafes, with a side order of accommodations too, which allows you a peaceful respite during your edible adventure.

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I chose to return to one of the restaurants, Mad Michael’s, and I am very pleased that I did! The Sinatra soundtrack playing in the dining room was completely fitting; as Frankie’s dulcet tones rang out that he “Did it my way” I realized that no words could encapsulate better this southern bakery and smokehouse which is Mad Michael’s.

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In his youth Michael choose to study commercial cooking as a way of meeting girls, must have worked well for him as he and his wife Kay, have travelled far, from the Western Provinces to Wyebridge. Along the way this former rock and roll agent, promoter and manager, took a couple of side tours. He discovered he had talent creating twig furniture, and Mad Michael’s Twig Art and Café was born.

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Michael does good food; this is scratch cooking at its best, everything from condiments, pickled crudities and corn bread is original. Seasonal produce is a menu staple, from the spring asparagus, early corn, or the fried green tomatoes, which are based on a recipe he discovered in a tavern in Memphis. Michael is also one of the most natural story tellers I have ever had the pleasure of listening to. His fall menu item of Caribbean fried pumpkin comes with a side serving of story.

When visiting Antigua he came upon a tin shack restaurant called “Momma’s”. After indulging in a beverage or two, Michael wandered around back of the shack and discovered that Momma was a hefty sized woman who hailed from Montreal, and as she cooked the pumpkin on an old electric stove, she would add a solid shake of Montreal Steak Spice to the glowing gourd.

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Steak spice is the only thing Michael doesn’t make himself, and that includes the kitchen proper, which is a stunning smokehouse set between the cedar trees, just out back of the dining room. Nature inspired Michael to create the twig furniture and accessories inside, and he has chosen to surround himself by cooking au natural in this unique outdoor venue.

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Lunch is lovely; my dining companion and I choose BBQ; I with the Bourbon BBQ sauced beef, she with the chicken, succulent in a confederation Ale BBQ sauce. Both were BBQ, but the tastes were completely different, both were wonderful. The sweet potato bun, saddled up on either side of the hefty portion of protein is made in house, and is amazing!

Potato salad and crunchy pickled dilled baby carrots round out the plates. While I don’t usually have dessert at lunch, the offerings were too enticing to refuse. My carrot cake was a very generous sized slice, rich, moist and covered in perfect cream cheese icing. The ice-cream a top my friends peach, mango crisp melted in delicious rivulets coating each bite to creamy goodness.

There are numerous menu items I am planning on returning to try, in particular the signature skillet corn bread. Michael explained that it is made with corn flour, not corn meal, is baked fresh daily in a cast iron skillet. As Mad Michael’s closes down for the winter season, there are many regular customers, who calculate the number of weeks until spring reopening, and will order an equal amount of the famous corn bread to freeze and enjoy all winter.

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I asked Michael what he would like to share with my readers and his response was immediate; when it comes to food, “don’t dumb down” he said. He explained that he is concerned that many folks are content with chain food, the fast food, quick and empty and he wonders if kids of the next couple of generations will even know how to cook, or understand that eating quality ingredients will improve one’s life.

A passionate chef, a man with a vision, Mad Michael does it his way, and his way tastes great!

MAD Michael’s
8215 Highway 93, Wyebridge, Ontario, Canada L0K 2E0
Telephone: (705) 527-1666
Email: michaelwhite7@aol.com

Our 2013 Season is May 16 to Oct 14, Thursday thru Sunday, 12 Noon to 8 pm
www.huroniafoodtrail.ca

Written by: Penelope Morrow

Penelope Morrow is a writer, editor and food aficionado from Barrie, follow her tweets
@penelopejmorrow

A Night at Manhattan’s Bar & Kitchen

Manhattan’s Bar & Kitchen has undergone some major renovations regarding the menu. Located at 147 Dunlop Street East, directly east of Fitzy’s and across the street from Hooters, Manhattan’s aims to please.

Deciding to treat my mother and younger brother to an evening out, I thought we might test Manhattan’s newly revamped menu. If you loved that Manhattan’s previously had a menu largely centered on seafood, you may rest assured because the menu remains to have a plethora of seafood options available.

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Manhattan’s continues to be a very classy, posh restaurant. Diverse paintings hung on the walls, adding a rather appropriate finish to the magenta and charcoal themed interior. The restaurant has a little patio out front where you can enjoy the open air and sun. At the opposite end of this narrow, rectangular restaurant there are grand windows that open to Barrie’s beautiful waterfront view. My family and I chose to sit by the windows where we were able to enjoy the view as well as breathe in the hot summer breeze.

Despite the menu being fixated on seafood, there is still a variety of items on the menu that the non-seafood lover can enjoy. If you come to Manhattan’s on a Monday to Friday anywhere from 11 am until 5 pm, you can enjoy certain appetizers for $5. I enjoyed a delicious Red and Blue Salad (a small if you order off the $5 menu), which was made up of spinach, blueberries, strawberries, and pecans tossed in a blue cheese and poppy seed dressing. It was the perfect refresher for such a warm evening. Maintaining the healthy theme, my mother chose the Grilled Vegetables – white balsamic and herb grilled vegetables on spinach with a red pepper aioli. She also ordered the Sweet Chilli Chicken, which was breaded chicken breast with sesame seeds sprinkled on top of a sweet chilli sauce. She could not stop boasting about how incredible her meal was! Manhattan’s is even kid friendly. My brother ordered a cheese pizza (which is made with a house tomato sauce) with French fries on the side. The children’s menu is a main dish with a side for only $6. The exciting thing about this restaurant is that the whole family can enjoy a tasteful dinner without having to worry if everyone will be able to find something on the menu to enjoy. Manhattan’s has surely covered all the bases.

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Manhattan’s menu is quite high in price, but this is a restaurant where quality and quantity are both guaranteed. You’re paying more, so you expect to get more – right? Right. The food is remarkable and the portion sizes are large. Manhattan’s gives you your monies worth and makes you want to come back time and time again.

With a rather extensive drink menu, a true connoisseur of alcoholic beverages will never go thirsty here. Manhattan’s has plenty of ales, cocktails, mocktails, martinis, and for the winos, a variety of white or red wines. On the weekends, Manhattan’s also has live music.

If you’re looking to enjoy some casual drinks and some appetizers, pre-drink before a night out on the town, or have a quiet, romantic evening, Manhattan’s should be your next check point. The servers will do everything in their power to impress you. And I promise you, you’ll want to go back.

View Manhattans Bar and Kitchen Profile

Valerie Colangelo is a writer from Barrie. Read her blog at: www.accordingtovalerie.com and follow her on Twitter at @vcolang

I simply must dedicate this review to Sheldon Creek

I simply must dedicate this review to “The Ladies”; the happy Holstein cows that are the inspiration and driving force behind Sheldon Creek Dairy.

These beautiful bovines are fundamentally responsible for the dairy goodness that stocks my fridge. It is the amazing milk that these gentle creatures produce, which is used to make the products that have created a strong following and a well-recognized name for Sheldon Creek Dairy.

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This is multigenerational family farm who welcomes visitors to their onsite store, seven days a week. Can’t get to the store, no problem, with two Holstein painted vans making deliveries three days a week, your calcium boost can be purchased in local stores, grocery stores and specialty shops.

It is the quality of the milk that makes the Sheldon Creek Dairy products so delicious and healthy. The technology used is classic; the raw milk is pasteurized for mere seconds, it is non-homogenized and as a fresh product, the cream will rise to the top and separate, where you can scoop it off to use as cream or shake it into the bottle for a full rich flavour. Yes bottles, glass bottles, these keep the milk colder, are kinder to the environment and provide the nostalgic kick that often inspires shoppers to take some home to try. The milk is appreciated by raw milk fans, is often well tolerated by the lactose intolerant and wee babies, it is amazing in your morning coffee and the flavours are a great post work out electrolyte replacing treat.

This whole fresh milk is used for all the products Sheldon Creek Dairy makes.

The product line includes; original white, dark chocolate and the newest addition is strawberry.

While all their dairy products are natural, Marianne of Sheldon Creek Dairy, explained to me that the strawberry does include some artificial additions as it is not possible to present the perfectly pink strawberry flavour without helping nature along.

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The yogurt flavours are wonderful; I adore the vanilla, and the raspberry maple is extraordinary. Original Greek yogurt is offered, as is sour cream. Feta cheese and cheese curds are also available and during the Christmas season, Sheldon Creek Dairy makes the best eggnog you will ever taste, with or without a shot of rum!

New product development is a priority for Marianne; soft serve Greek style frozen yogurt has just launched, with classic vanilla and strawberry flavours.

You will have to drive to the farm to try this one, as of yet it is not available in stores. I was fortunate to attend the 2nd annual Sheldon Creek Farm day recently, an amazing afternoon which showcased local products and producers at the farm, gave visitors a chance to meet “The Ladies” and get first hand knowledge of a working dairy farm, this opportunity is available year round to groups, school tours and families. What an amazing experience to share with your kids!

Customer service is paramount for everyone at Sheldon Creek Dairy; their delivery women are redefining the role of traditional “milk men”. These young women clearly take pride in the products,
they educate as they shelve and stock sellers fridge’s, they provide tastings and attend local community events.

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I asked Marianne what message she would like me to pass on to my readers, her passion for Sheldon Creek Dairy was evident when her immediate response was to say, “Try this, go outside your normal routine and try something real. Help your local economy with your purchase, educate your family and introduce your taste buds to wholesome milk and dairy products. Educate yourself on what you eat, speak to the person who grows your food. We consider ourselves environmental stewards and we are producing great products, people just have to try it to see the difference”.

Marianne shared her five year goals for the dairy with me, and while I am sworn to secrecy, for now, I will share the news once she gives me the nod to do so. I am so excited!

Sheldon Creek Dairy milk is real, not re worked…this milk will sour if left out, as it is supposed to. This is milk as the cows made it; this is my favourite moo juice!

Sheldon Creek Dairy, The Farm:
4316 RR#2 5th Concession Loretto, Ontario L0G 1L0
Telephone: 705-434-0404
Cellphone: 705-440-3155
Coordinates: N44.10935° W-79.92293°
www.sheldoncreekdairy.ca

Written by: Penelope Morrow

Penelope Morrow is a writer, editor and food aficionado from Barrie, follow her tweets
@penelopejmorrow

A trip to Café Fromagerie

They opened their doors in July 2012 and over the past year have established a devoted following of cheese fans.

Tasting is an option they encourage, and they will eagerly slice for you a sliver of that which tempts your taste buds. The showcase is filled with an array of interesting cheeses, including many Canadian artisan types. An aged cheddar with a balsamic wash is a big seller and one of my personal favourites.

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Grande Crème Brie, Quebec Blue, and Mango Ginger, are all popular choices. Beemster Graskaas or “grass cheese” from the Netherlands, is a spring time treat. This cheese is the product of the first spring milk once the cows are put to pasture after a winter in the barn. Bella Casara mini buffalo mozzarella is amazing, try it with some organic tomatoes and a splash of balsamic vinegar, or take home a slice of Greek Saganaki to fry and flambé, Opa!

Café Fromagerie offers many locally produced and sourced items including C’est Bon Cheese a fresh soft unripened goat’s cheese, Primeridge Pure cream cheese, Williams Farms Maple Syrup, Sprucewood Shortbread, Kozlick’s Dijon mustards, and sweet treats from Chelsea Chocolates are available.

Café lunches are served, and of course, they specialize in grilled cheese sandwiches, served with their own Jalapeño ketchup. These are no ordinary grilled cheeses; combinations might include Gouda with caramelized onions and bacon, or perhaps a Brie, blueberry and basil. Daily soup options and fresh baked scones round out the lunch time menu. Coffees and loose leaf teas are offered as well.

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Looking for take home dinner options; the freezers are filled with a wide assortment of items such as Best Pierogies, Mama Rosa’s Italian cuisine, and an amazing chicken curry.

Need a perfect cheese tray for your wine tasting; they will create it, or perhaps you are a fan of the esoteric Ski Queen Norwegian whey cheese, they will order it.

Educating the palate is more than just a journey of the taste buds, and the proprietors will eagerly explain where the product comes from and how it might be best enjoyed.

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Additionally all the necessary accoutrements are in store; from absolutely gorgeous hand crafted cheese boards to a wide collection of crackers and charcuterie.

I highly encourage you to try Café Fromagerie, there is so much to discover in the world of fine cheese!

Café Fromagerie
181 Livingstone Street East, Unit 22, Barrie, Ontario L4M 6Z4
(705)719-2400
info@cafefromagerie.com
(705)-719-2400

www.cafefromagerie.com

Written by: Penelope Morrow

Penelope Morrow is a writer, editor and food aficionado from Barrie, follow her tweets @penelopejmorrow