Pair-A-Dice Board Game Cafe in Barrie

The café is not overpriced like you might expect, being that it is in such a niche business market. Surprisingly the place has been filled or nearly filled every time I’ve been there, and each time it was a completely affordable outing. As a fee for the board game services, participants are asked for a $5.00 cover charge and after that all the prices of snacks, coffee or other beverages are pretty standard as far as coffee shops go. I paid $2.00 for a large coffee and also had a blue lemonade Jones Soda.

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A nice treat would be the shakes and smoothies, both priced at $4.50. Because it goes perfectly with board games, the café offers party mix (which is actually just a bowl of Ringolos, tortilla chips, corn chips and cheesies) or a bowl of the increasingly popular veggie straws. Aside from the snacks, the food options are slightly limited, serving only pre-made sandwiches. They do have a nice variety of sweet squares, tarts and cakes to hit your sweet spot.

For the most part, a seemingly regular bunch of patrons are coming to Pair-A-Dice, bringing newcomers more and more are there for the vast selection of board games. But patrons go for the games. They have a broad selection of classics like Monopoly, The Game of Life, Battleships, Jenga or Clue. Titles like this could never be wrong. I’d like to bring a larger party and play a long game of Risk at least once. Heck, I’ve already made plans to go back next week.

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But the café also features more esoteric games, or slightly off-the-radar types of games that aren’t too difficult and are often more enjoyable. A popular game now-a-days (even played on the sitcom Big Bang Theory) is Settlers of Catan. Pair-A-Dice has it as well as a number of its Expansion sets. One of my favourites is a more complex game called Power Grid. And the last time I visited, one of the friendly waiter taught me and a friend how to play a crazy, awesome card game called Smash Up. I’m glad I tried it. It was so fun that we ended up playing for a 3 hour run.

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I’m just thinking ahead to the winter time when it’s much better to be indoors than out in some blizzard. Pair-A-Dice is going to be an excellent winter getaway. It would be perfect after a hockey game, or after hitting the slopes; just an exciting game and a hot chocolate. Or even for an entire day of games on the weekend. You won’t end up spending too much money, and the fun will surely be through the roof (as they say). The hours of the café at 12PM – 12AM, so you can surely get gaming there pretty late too.

Now that the South End of Barrie has become a bit of a recent retail hotspot, the location at 31 Commerce Park Drive has a variety of benefits. It’s literally a 3-minute walk from the Wal-Mart parking lot and there’s a lot of parking space right at the café door.

Be sure to check it out, and if you need more information, or the full menu, or directions, you can visit their website at www.pairadice.ca

Written by: Michael Whone

Follow Micheal on Twitter @whoneranger or visit his website www.rivervanstyle.com

Barrie Farmers Market

When I moved to Barrie and first discovered the Barrie Farmers Market, I also quickly learnt it was a great way to motivate my teenaged daughter to get up and moving on a Saturday morning! Shopping for food at a farmers market is a far more pleasurable experience for me than pushing the cart around a grocery store. Developing and nurturing relationships with said farmers and growers has educated my mind, enriched my diet and helped my local economy.

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When days grow longer and the sap starts to flow, we are tempted by the sweetness of spring and the golden glory of the syrup that will soon follow. The Barrie Farmers Market honoured this yearly celebration recently with the “Marvelous Maple” festival , paying homage to the syrupy sweet goodness of our glorious maple trees.

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This yearly seasonal rite proved inspirational to many vendors as maple based products both sweet and savory were abundant. Williams Farms offered “maple taffy on snow”, Cheeky Treats had amazing maple bacon cupcakes, Brian Payne had magnificent “Maple oat bread”, and the sold out sign for SoupHerb’s weekly hot soup, complete with a tangy maple glaze, was a sure sign that maple is a very popular flavour.

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Community is built at a farmers market, and the long tables set up inside the rotunda at city hall provided ample space for families to sit and enjoy the special $3.00 brunch of pancakes and sausages alongside the sweet treat of ice cream with maple syrup!

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Market Manager Lucy Ricardo shared with me that the Barrie Farmers Market events are an opportunity to “introduce the community to local food’, both “food to eat on the spot and food to take home to cook”. “It is a great opportunity for people to explore local food, to cultivate relationships with farmers and producers and feel good about what they are eating”. The Barrie Farmers Market “Harvest Daze” event in the fall is another fabulous Saturday morning, when the vendors have the abundant bounty of the growing season available for the public to purchase.

As Simcoe Dining readers know, I am a strong advocate for local food, and as a regular shopper at the Barrie Farmers Market I am thrilled to put my money where my fork goes.

The relationships we develop with the farmers and producers of our food extends into our kitchens and the kitchens of the restaurants in our community too. Many of the Chefs and Owners of Barrie’s finest dining establishments purchase from the same farmers market vendors.

This support can have a phenomenal impact on our community.

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As Lynn Ogryzlo, who was named Ontario’s Local Food Ambassador by Ontario Farm Fresh Marketing Association states in the $10 Challenge; “If every household in Ontario spent $10 a week on local food, we’d have an additional $2.4 billion in our local economy at the end of the year.”

The Barrie Farmers Market recently caught the attention of Nigel Napier-Andrew, host of “Escapes with Nigel” and was captured on film for one of the upcoming episodes found at www.escapeswithnigel.com.

A true farmers market has a majority of vendors who are farmers, some vendors who sell prepared foods, and artisans who offer handcrafted wares. The Barrie Farmers Market has over fifty vendors, literally everything from “soup to nuts”; bread and baking, chocolate and cupcakes, fruit and veggies galore. Poultry, fish and meat, honey, perogies, plants and flowers, amazing prepared foods, pretzels, fine art, jewelry, crafts and woodworking.

The Barrie Farmers Market has been a fixture in our city since 1846 and this history assures that there will always be a place for those that grow the food to have a place to sell the food in the city core. The market runs year round, inside the city hall rotunda from the first weekend in November until moving outside the first weekend in May. Market hours are 8 am till noon. Frankly I wish the market would stay open a wee bit longer to give late risers the opportunity to discover the joy of shopping locally.

Saturday mornings at the Barrie Farmers Market; make it part of your family’s weekly routine.

www.barriefarmermarket.com

*Our Barrie Farmers Market is open year round. Over the summer months I plan on exploring other farmers markets in Simcoe County.

Written by: Penelope Morrow

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

Photos by Celeste Morrow-Bailie – CMB Photography

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Simcoe County Region ORHMA Gala Event April 2014

Those in the hospitality industry know how to dine; and this evening was a showcase of their extraordinary creative talents both in the kitchen and from the classrooms of our own Georgian College. The quality of the skills make their way to our plates in the restaurants and hotel establishments across Simcoe County. I was thrilled to attend and am pleased to share with you the highlights of the evening. Recognition and awards at the gala event aren’t limited to those nominated in the many categories, but are also given to the industry as a whole for the contribution to the local economy. A shout out is given to all in attendance, as this event is a major fundraiser for Georgian College. The ORHMA Gala event evening raised $15,000.00 which goes directly to scholarships and awards for students in the Hospitality and Culinary Programs. These scholarships can have a profound and direct impact on the Chefs of tomorrow.

While there were many sponsors for the evening, Tourism Simcoe was the main event sponsor and I feel is deserving of special mention; for recognizing the benefits of encouraging the students and honouring the mentors, as the community at large benefits from this symbiotic relationship.

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From the Georgian College Culinary students to the well-seasoned Chefs, we dined in delightful fashion. Appetizers and amuse bouche were prepared by the Georgian College culinary program students, wine poured from Peller Estates, cocktails complements of Georgian Alumni Association .

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Moving into the dining room, live music played on, the tables sported fruit carvings of the finest caliber; each watermelon uniquely carved, resembling floral, fish or fowl, these edible sculptures were a delight for the eyes.

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Our appetizers were presented on a wood slab, a variety of tastes; bites of salad, mushroom and fish. The food stations around the room provided the featured Chefs occasion to impress us, which they did. This was the highlight of the evening, the opportunity for guests to first taste and then to vote for the Silver Plate Award.

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Our dinner small plates were enticing; lollypops of lamb, tidbits of beef, rolls of veal, tastes of rabbit and succulent shrimp, salad morsels, sauces divine, tiny crisp ice cream cones, the whiskey sour expertly shaken and poured to accompany the perfectly plated offerings from The North. Our meal ended with coffee and an exquisite dark chocolate curl of dessert.

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While voting for the majority of awards was held online by survey monkey, the Silver Plate award was done by paper and pen, and tallied on the spot.

Home game advantage was clearly held by The Nottawasaga Inn as they took top honours in most categories. With a full complement of staff attending this was an emotional night for them. Hospitality Manager, Local Chef, Industry Recognition, Food Service Hospitality Supplier, Heart of the House Legacy Awards were presented and applauded.

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The People’s Choice Awards, which were chosen by consumer votes included:

Favourite Server- Adriana Medeiros, Nottawasaga Resort

Bartender-Ryan Zaroski, The Ranch

Restaurant- Jack Astor’s

Accommodations-Casino Rama

Hospitality and Tourism Ambassador- Hanna Milne, Snow Valley Ski Resort

Recreational/Tourism Facility –Casino Rama

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In my humble opinion, I wish the awards had been shared by more, as there are so many fine establishments within the industry, within Simcoe County.

I personally was rooting for Chef André Sanche of Ciboulette et Cie to take home the “Local Chef of the Year Award” and when the Silver Plate award was announced, I confess I was shocked that Barrie’s own Chef Marco Ormonde was not the recipient.

It was a splendid evening nonetheless, and I extend my sincere congratulations to all. With food this good, we are all winners.

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Written by: Penelope Morrow

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

Photos by Celeste Morrow-Bailie – CMB Photography