Blackie and the Rodeo Kings at Violet’s Venue



Bruce grew up in the 60’s, a huge music fan who dreamt of opening a concert venue someday. For thirty years the responsibilities of career and family took priority, but his dream didn’t fade. In February 2014, Violet’s Venue, a “purple hued no expense spared temple to the Blues”, opened its doors in Barrie, thus fulfilling Bruce’s long held dream while setting the stage to leave a musical legacy for his young daughter Violet.

Violet’s Venue provides concert goers from near and far with an exclusive, very intimate concert experience. Seating is for 92 patrons, every seat is a great one.

For those that require it, an elevator is available. Merch table, meet and greet with autograph session are part and parcel of the evenings, a fans dream! Beverages both alcoholic and non are available. Facilities on the main floor avail themselves for foodie events.

A historic organ, the type traditionally played by Blues musicians, bronze plaque polished, gleaned from a Toronto church, is right of stage and the entire sound system, well, it is astounding! Which brings me to the music, and at Violet’s Venue, it is all about the music.

Mid set; I was honoured to be granted an exclusive interview with Tom Wilson, of Juno Award winning, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings.


Penelope Morrow: I usually interview Chefs, so can’t help but bring a comparison to food; too many cooks can spoil the broth, but NOT with you guys. You have a stellar musical career happening, all of you, and extraordinary talents.

How do you identify what song is going to be your song and what song is going to be a Blackie and the Rodeo Kings song? How do you choose?

Tom Wilson: You know what, there is some kind of thing that comes out of the cosmos, some kind of magic trick, or some kind of spiritual guide. Let’s call it for lack of a better term, there’s a spiritual guide that comes out of the creative energy you know, something we do pool from other worlds, and you follow that lead. That you go with creatively so you actually know what’s right and after doing this for so long we don’t try to do things we shouldn’t be doing, we don’t try and force things, on one another or on ourselves or try to put the round peg into the square hole kind of thing.

PM: What is your BARK method as it were, for reconciling with strong personalities both musical and personal, and dealing with the distance between your locales? You’re in Hamilton, Colin is in Nashville and Stephen is in Halifax. How do you have such a cohesive band when you are so far apart?

TW: I think it probably helps a little bit, we don’t get under each other’s skin, we don’t see a lot of each other except, unless, we have the intent of doing something creatively, it defines our relationships at this point in our lives. I have known Colin since I was 16 years old; I have known Stephen since about 1994, about 21 years I guess. So familiarity builds contempt and there is just none of that in this band. Also we have built a band that doesn’t say no to one another we are open to ideas all the time, because we are able to trust one another that the person is not going to lead us down a path we shouldn’t be going down so not having to say no is easy.


PM: You are touring North and South, had to use that one, you are even going to the Calabogie Road.

TW: Yah we kind of go from one project to another. Colin is about the one guy that is the most stable at home these days as he works in Nashville. He is a go to guy as a guitar player and as a writer and as a producer, he is working on a TV show called Nashville full time, he is on the show, he is part of the musical direction of the show, recording team, its huge, the show is huge, nice little gig to be working on. It’s also a great creative outlet for him, but also its keeping him at home. And every once and a while, I am 55 and tired of travelling, so you always look for ways to be able to, that allow you to choose what you want to do when you want to do it cause that’s what becoming an artist is all about.

Basically it’s impossible for us to be told what to do. For whatever reasons we are born with authority issues and now we are middle aged men with authority issues, so it’s even more difficult for us to be told what to do. Sustaining a life where you get to be creative and you get to make choices that you get to live with, that you don’t have to live by anyone else’s choices for you, that’s important and that’s what we will continue to try and do until they are throwing dirt on our caskets.


PM: Do you like the small venues?

TW: Sure I like any venue. This is a great place. I like any place, I like it here. This is nice, I don’t know what it was, it looks like it might have been a funeral home or a banquet hall maybe.

PM: I believe it was a banquet hall.

TW: Most of all it’s about the heart that people put in the venue. Bruce, who owns it, he puts a lot of heart into this place and he’s got a real love for music and that’s what we need. We need more of that.

PM: I agree!

PM: Tell me about your painting?

TW: Yet another vehicle for the life I choose to live, the creative life I chose to live. I started painting in 1997, because I wanted to stop being destructive, and I wanted to be productive, and it was a great

PM: Thank you so much for your time.

TW: Thank you very much, it’s good.


Blackie and the Rodeo Kings performed an amazing show at Violet’s Venue on November 10, 2014. Colin Linden, Stephen Fearing and Tom Wilson engage the audience with their thoughtful wit and storytelling between songs. The caliber of their songwriting impresses me, rich with life experience and depth of emotion, with guitars in hand they lead us, they make my boots stomp and my hips sway. This is damn good music.

Their gratitude in achieving success is clear, while showing altruism and caring for others with their support of World Vison, offering the audience “anything off the merch table to those that sign up to support this cause”.


Tom Wilson eloquently summed up my own thoughts about Violet’s Venue when he noted the love for the music that Bruce Maltby has; it is visible in the quality of the workmanship, the autographed photographs of each performer that has played at the venue that surround the picture of his beloved daughter Violet.


There is quality at Violet’s Venue, on stage and off.

Music lovers, go there!

Phone: (705) 238-9282
Address: 52 Morrow Road, Barrie, ON L4N 3V8

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

Photos by Celeste Morrow-Bailie – CMB Photography

10fold farms “Feast on Summer” with Ciboulette et Cie

The setting was picture perfect, our creature comforts tended to; from the tarps above, festooned with twinkle lights, the photo op gorgeous press back chair bundled with blankets, the table setting charming chic, sporting mismatched china. ‘Twas simply fairyland in the field.


Melissa and Nathan McCosker of 10fold farms know how to throw a feast!

The seed of inspiration started small but has grown strong.


As Melissa shared with me they were disappointed with the lack of access to good food in the grocery stores. They had the desire to feed their family organic chicken, good pork, beef and veggies. Their solution was to grow what they needed, thereby ensuring that the farming methods and quality of the food would be consistent with their beliefs. This is sustainable farming, healthy for the land and body. They bought their property in 2009, animals were added in 2010, and their specialty is Berkshire Pork.


They raise happy healthy animals in this woodland setting. Veggies of all types are grown, including mushroom logs. These beauties are available to purchase allowing you to harvest your own crop of Shiitake mushrooms. The property hosts a greenhouse in the geodesic dome style, allowing them to extend the growing season.


Nathan grew up on a cattle and sheep farm in Australia and has vast experience with animal husbandry, growing crops using natural methods and cooking; having travelled to many “delicious places”. Nathan often develops the menu and cooks the feasts that he and Melissa will serve, but on this evening, Chef André Sanche, decided to “come out and play”. Chef André was the inaugural chef for their “feasts” and the three work well together. For the “Feast on Summer”, Nathan led the guests on a tour of the farm before dinner; a wonderful walking aperitif. This stimulated conversation, educated us to their farming principals and allowed ample time for photography.

As gloaming settled, candlelight welcomed us to the table and the feast began.


Dinner was divine; we started with a small glass of craft beer, with our 1st; Sticky Portuguese Style Berkshire Braised Pork Belly on onion and roasted garlic compote with sautéed sweet peppers. Moving to our 2nd, with white wine; Smoked Georgian Bay Whitefish with Shredded Kale Slaw, Basil scented Say Cheese Yogurt, pickled yellow cucumbers and spicy smoked pepper salsa verde. Red Wine with our 3rd; Thyme Roasted Berkshire Pork Shoulder Roast, 10fold farms Vegetable Medley, Lemon Verbena Polenta, with C’est Bon Goat Cheese.

Our 4th; tea or coffee and Warm Berkshire Lard Beignets with Maple Whiskey Carmel and Whipped Goat Cream. Guests lingered near the bonfire as the embers waned, it was hard to say goodnight. Feasts are offered throughout the season, each has its own theme, details are sent out to those on the email list. Do sign up, these are must attend events.


The relationship between Chef André Sanche and 10fold farms is symbiotic. The Berkshire pork is available to purchase at Ciboulette et Cie and is the pork of choice for Chef André in his restaurant. Nearing Christmas, 10fold farms will have their mushroom logs available for purchase at Ciboulette et Cie. These spore injected logs make great gifts; we purchased one last year and my young nephew found the sprouting fungi enchanting.

Chef André Sanche has been featured previously on Simcoe Dining; I was privileged to experience his talents at the Georgian College Chef Series, and I reviewed his restaurant, Ciboulette et Cie in June 2013. Growth and accolades continue for Chef André Sanche; the restaurant has acquired a liquor license and is now open for Thursday night dinners, with a communal flair. Ciboulette et Cie has been designated a “FEAST ON” Member with the Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance. This prestigious honour recognizes a minimum use of 25% local foods, and a gorgeous wooden spoon is presented to members!


10fold farms flourishes; this has been the first year they had a booth at the Orillia Farmers Market and they will be there until Christmas; selling their frozen pork products and a plethora of seasonal delights all grown and baked fresh on the farm. Jams and jellies, hand pies in seasonal flavours; rhubarb, strawberry and soon to arrive will be apple. They sell pulled pork sandwiches on homemade bread each week, jars of lard they have rendered themselves for your own baking, and some amazing flavoured and herbed butters made in collaboration with Stirling Creamery, barrel churned butter. Post feast, I purchased a pound of Berkshire bacon and a jar of the lemon butter to take home with me for breakfast treats!

Berkshire pork to purchase from 10fold farms is available by email marketing with direct delivery, contact 10fold farms for details.

There are folk, squeamish about thinking where their food comes from; but by supporting local we become educated about our food sources and the people that are growing and producing the very sustenance we require.

When I asked Melissa what message she would like me to share with my readers, her reply was direct. “Reinforce as a meat eater it is really a brave thing to be conscious about what you are putting on your fork. Getting to know your farmer is vastly important in this day and age, especially not knowing where all that grocery store food comes from. The more relationships you develop with the farmers the better off you are health wise and ethically, it’s a good thing all together”. Need I say more?
Melissa & Nathan McCosker
1751 Rosemount Road Waubaushene, Ontario Canada L0K 2C0
@10foldFarms on twitter

Written by: Penelope Morrow

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

Photos by Celeste Morrow-Bailie – CMB Photography

Chaopaya Thai Restaurant in Barrie


The inside of the Thai restaurant has sections divided off in nestled open concept rooms which add a nice ambience. The entire place is filled with very ornate and beautiful Oriental decorations. Right above where I was sitting there were two stuffed blowfish that you would likely be able to find only in the Orient.

Although the restaurant has probably seen its better days, it’s been a favourite of Thai food lovers in Barrie for many years now. In the summer the patio is absolutely fantastic; it’s in fact probably one of the largest I’ve seen downtown. Because the restaurant is a little nestled from the busy Dunlop street, the restaurant affords you to have a very easygoing and quiet lunch or dinner on the patio.

The food at Chaopaya is very exciting, tasty and very affordable too. They offer main course dishes ranging from the $10 mark up to around $16 for the duck stir-fry. I was able to try two Thai curry dishes and a very generic chicken stir-fry meal. Both curries were very flavourful, not too spicy and quite filling.

Even though the curry is considered to be medium spice level, the servers let us know that they can be made hot or very hot. I’ve been to a few Thai restaurants and the medium spice was perfect for me. Thai curry isn’t much like its Indian counterpart; it tends to be lighter and oily as opposed to a thick and pasty Indian curry. Either way it makes for a lighter healthy dish that tastes great. Both the Red Beef Curry and Green Chicken curry are made with a coconut curry sauce.


The Chicken with mixed vegetables came with broccoli, bamboo and carrots, as did most of the other meals. However some of the other dishes were a little different like the Golden Curry Chicken and Tamarind Curry Beef with potatoes or the Chicken with Peanut Sauce with peppers and onions.

Sadly, I did not try the Duck with Ginger which is one of the most expensive dishes on the menu but looks absolutely fantastic. Most dishes are served with rice making the overall bill very affordable. But what’s more, if you go there for lunch, many of the main course meals are offered at a reduced lunchtime price of $9.95. The lunch dishes are also served with a small hot and sour soup and spring roll as an appetizer. It’s quite a deal.

As far as Thai restaurants in downtown Barrie, Chaopaya is easily the best value for your money, and the food is just great and the atmosphere is very charming. If you’re looking for a quick, light and healthy lunch option, Chaopaya might be a little bit away from the main part of downtown but it’s worth trying. Dinner at Chaopaya is also great and even checking out the patio for afternoon drinks with a few friends would be quite relaxing as well. It’s a very nice spot. I liked it, and for now, it’s my go to place for Thai food in Barrie. If you haven’t yet, you should definitely try it.

Written by Michael Whone

Follow Michael on twitter @whoneranger and check out his website

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Painters Hall Bistro


It was some years back when I first walked through the doors of Painters Hall Bistro, down the narrow hall lined with local artwork, and found myself in this wonderful restaurant. I followed the gentle scent of fresh linen, flowers and what I can only describe as “good kitchen”. I knew then that I was about to experience a lovely dinner, every meal since has been consistently great.

Flash forward to a recent Barrielicious, when darling daughter choose Painters Hall Bistro as her summer dining treat, she with the good camera for food pictures to temp your appetite. I realize that Barrielicious is not the best time to review a restaurant; the menus are shorter, the venues are hopping, but the staff at Painters Hall juggle this summer dining frenzy with ease, the kitchen dishes out great plates, and the overall experience is as delightful as any other time I have dined there.

Owner Erin Burrows shared with me that the art work lining the walls is “all local and revolves every six months”. Having original art on display “changes the atmosphere and adds to the ambiance”.


There are three rooms at Painters Hall Bistro, each with a distinctly different feel; the front room seems brighter and is larger, this to me is the spot for a celebratory night out, the overall volume slightly louder. The regulars gravitate to the middle room; this is where the bar is located, strong and stately, where the musicians set up on Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, where the banter is familiar between guests and staff, a sense of camaraderie is palpable. The back room has the date night feel to me, more intimate, a wee bit darker and cozier.


Whichever room you choose, the service will be consistent and your dinner will be grand.

Painters Hall signature menu items have stood the test of time. While there have been changes within the kitchen, the glorious Surf and Turf; “Butter Braised Pork Belly & Cider Scallops” appetizer gets a slight tweak from the Chef, and is simply divine, served with compressed Watermelon Salsa.

My daughter’s choices of; “Painters Hall Organic Cookstown Greens Whipped Almond Brie, Baco Noir Blueberry Vinaigrette, served on the side for her, with Crisp Asian Pear & Blueberries”, a perfect summer salad.


In winter I always indulge in the signature main of Braised Beef Short Ribs; but for summer I chose the “Stuffed Chicken Breast, Sweet Potato, Ricotta, Fresh Basil and Spicy Chorizo, Ontario Spring Pea Barley Risotto, Micro Green and Veg Chip Salad” and was suitably pleased. As was darling daughter, with her “Fresh Black Pasta, Organic Shrimp, Fresh Sautéed Tomato, Creamy Pesto Sauce”.



Desserts were delicious; the only unfortunate moment was while posing for the camera my Bourbon Honey Ice Cream with Roasted Ontario Peaches and Lavender Drizzle began to melt, oh the pressure! The Dark Chocolate Moussed Layered with Vanilla Bean Chantilly and Macerated Berries held up under the photographer’s demands much better, but certainly didn’t last long once the tasting began!


While my experiences at Painters Hall Bistro have always been positive, there may be some who have feedback either positive or not, they would prefer to share privately. Erin Burrows explained that guests often find it difficult to do so while actually at the restaurant. A unique solution has been offered for just this situation; “Text the Boss” cards are on hand with the phone number boldly printed, this differs from the reservation phone number and the message is clear, if you have feedback, we want to hear it. Great idea!

Another unique option offered at Painters Hall Bistro is the “dinner meeting”; a three course meal is presented and A/V equipment and screens are available.

I commend the originality of this working while dining experience!

I asked Erin Burrows what is next for Painters Hall. With six years staying power, where does she see the restaurant going? “Where do I see us going, I really listen to my regular clientele, I listen to those that dine here frequently, and I meet their expectations, everything from the wine list to new and upcoming cocktails. We are getting into the old fashioned drinks and the cocktail culture, we are really trying to develop that.”

I raise my glass to toast the continued success of Painters Hall Bistro!
17 Clapperton St. Barrie, ON L4M3E4
705 797 8844

Written by: Penelope Morrow

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

Photos by Celeste Morrow-Bailie – CMB Photography

Ten Great Summer Grilling Cookbooks for the Barbecue Enthusiast

Sizzle and Smoke: The Ultimate Guide to Grilling for Diabetes, Prediabetes, and Heart Health– 155 pages
This cookbook is aimed towards people with diabetes and contains a health guide with the amounts of calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium, etc. for each recipe.  It is also endorsed by the American Diabetes Association.  It contains an extensive section on sauces, condiments, salsas, pestos and has 50 full meal recipes and 30 side dish recipes and a dessert section.  The book is very nice with mostly typical barbecue ideas.  A must have for someone looking to cut back on sodium and improve heart health, while still enjoying barbecue.


The Gardener & the Grill: The Bounty of the Garden Meets the Sizzle of the Grill– 224 pages
This barbecue cookbook contains over 30 pages of sauces, seasonings, vinaigrettes and dressings and tzatziki.  It has 22 wonderful and interesting appetizer ideas, including my favourite: cream cheese stuffed jalapeno poppers.  It also contains a full section on sandwiches and pizzas which includes recipes for dough, Meze and Naan.  It offers a complete guide to grilling and all the instructions you may need.  Although it is mainly focused on grilling garden treasures, it does contain ideas for sandwiches with meats like chicken and sausage.  It has a wealth of knowledge on grilling vegetables for salads (including potato salad) and using a saucepan on the grill.  The soup and main dish sections are also great.


Fabulicious!: On the Grill: Teresa’s Smoking Hot Backyard Recipes– 208 pages
Nice book with several recipes.  Most Barbecuing requires a lot of seasoning, marinades, and sauces.  This book was lacking in that department.  It does include full sections on chicken, seafood, pasta, and other assorted meats.  It contains over 60 full recipes (including appetizers, soups, and desserts). It is a very useful cookbook with some great barbecue ideas, but not quite as complete as others.


Vegetarian Barbecue – 80 Easy-to-Grill Recipes Including Dips, Skewers, Salads and Sides – 183 pages, hard cover
This barbecue book is quite nicely designed with easy to read recipes.  It contains a lot of clever dips, salsas, and sauces with an excellent sour cream dip.  There are pictures of almost every recipe.  There was a nice small dish/appetizer section which contained wonderful ideas from grilled lotus to skewers to spring roll cigars.  There’s a fair amount of salad and tofu recipes.  All-in-all there’s 20 full-size meals with pictures of each very imaginative recipe.  Each of the salad recipes contains pictures and seasoning ideas that complemented the dish.  If you’re looking to improve on grilling vegetables, and more vegetarian ideas, this book is very clever and inventive, and the pictures really bring it to life.


Taste of Home Backyard Barbecues: 405 Dishes for Sizzling Celebrations– 256 pages
This book boasts over 405 dishes.  Cover to cover, it is jammed with recipes and still has a fair number of pictures.  These quick and easy descriptions are what you need to make things like: Polynesian kabobs, California quinoa, grilled snapper with caper sauce, many desserts, grilled teriyaki pork tenderloin, trail mix, and obviously a lot more.  This book isn’t as clever and exotic, but with this many recipes it does have a lot to offer. It’s a great value for the price.


The Barbecue! Bible– 556 pages
This book has over 500 recipes.  It has very full sections on Chicken and other poultry, fish, shell fish, vegetarian dishes, other grilled vegetables, rice and beans, salsa, relish and slaw, sauces, marinades, seasonings and desserts.  Right off the top there are over 50 pages of anything and everything grill related from marinade times to how to prepare and cook various meats and cuts to using foil and suggested heat levels for any cooking need.  It has very few pictures, and is filled with mostly recipes.  It doesn’t contain too many generic ideas, they are mostly exciting and exotic. Dishes like bacon grilled prunes, lettuce bundles with beef, Korean short ribs and beer can chicken stand out.  If it doesn’t bother you that the pictures are limited, this is clearly the best choice and most complete of cookbooks, among the rest. Great price too.


Brazilian Barbecue & Beyond – 192 pages, hard cover
This book has the most exotic barbecue ideas I’ve seen.  It does have pictures on most of the recipes.  It’s a very exciting and vibrant book with fantastic off-the-grid meal ideas that you don’t find in other barbecue books.  It contains many clever sauces, marinades and also has a full side and appetizer guide.  Overall, you may not be able to pronounce everything in this book, but you’ll want to try it all; very exciting and interesting ideas that are well worth picking up.  This is simply the best non-traditional barbecue cookbook I’ve seen.


Weber’s Time to Grill: Get In. Get Out. Get Grilling.– 304 pages
It contains sections on: appetizers, red meat, pork, poultry, seafood, eggs, veggies, and desserts. It’s a complete cookbook from A to Z.  It features pictures of every recipe.  It you’re like me, and you need pictures this book is a must have.  It also contains a very extensive and complete fish section.  It is lacking a little on the sections with marinades, salsa, sauces, seasoning to mix and match with your own creations and ideas. However the many recipes it does have usually contain sauces and marinade ideas to complement.  It has over 150 recipes that go from easy to adventurous.


The Grilling Book: The Definitive Guide from Bon Appetit – 432 pages
This book has lots of pictures to go with the recipes.  It has probably the best section on burgers that I’ve seen, including burgers with chicken, turkey, salmon and tuna.  It’s a big and complete cookbook with recipes for every type of meat and lots of veggies recipes, as well as sauces, salads, drinks, burgers, sausage, seafood and sandwiches. It contains a lot of easy recipes but also has many exciting, adventurous and off-the-grid recipes too.  Of any of the cookbook I’ve seen, it has the most extensive section of lamb recipes.  Boasting over 200 recipes, and with a lot of pictures of the dishes, this one is among the best out there.


Rob Rainford’s Born to Grill: Over 100 Recipes from My Backyard to Yours – 268 pages
This one has pictures of every recipe and has some of the most exotic and exciting recipes I’ve seen. Two of my favourites were the Jamaican beef patties and full prime rib rotisserie recipes. It also has a great grilled fish section.  It’s definitely lacking in sections for sauces, marinades, and salsas.  It does however make up for this by containing a lot of inventive ideas for sauces, marinades and seasonings in the recipes themselves. The sauces on the recipes for grilled ribs, pork, steak and fish are fantastic. Overall, Rob Rainford’s book is a nice buy.

-Written by: Michael Whone

Follow Michael Whone on Twitter @whoneranger and visit his website:

Lunch at Shirley’s Bayside Grille


I went for lunch at Shirley’s Bayside Grille and tried out the patio. On a hot day, the patio is perfectly tucked away from the sun, decorated with beautiful flowers with a scenic view of Kempenfelt Bay. Shirley’s has a full lunch menu as well as a Dinner menu in the evening. Shirley’s was priced as expected for a classier restaurant in downtown Barrie. When the food was served and I had the chance to try it, me and my friends were all pleased and felt the quality of meals and portion sizes were quite exceptional.


The most typical dish we tried was the club sandwich, so I’ll say that it was priced at $13.00, which isn’t unusual or terrible and almost on par with what you’d pay for a sandwich at Subway or Quiznos. The sandwich was delicious and came with a wonderful salad that had melon and strawberries. The restaurant also had a couple pizza dishes on the menu. There was a smoked salmon dish and a large selection of salads to fill out the lunch menu.

To me, I much preferred the Caesar salad that came with both the baked chicken wrap and grilled sirloin steak. The quality of salad was far superior to many Caesar salads I’ve tried at large chain restaurants. The dressing was delicious and the large chunks of bacon really made these two dishes come alive. You just don’t get quality like that at a sub shop or on the giant salad bowls you get at East Side Mario’s. As a side-note, The Eggless Caesar Salad at Shirley’s is priced at $11.00.


I’m very glad I tried the Sirloin 6oz. Steak. It was priced at $15.00 and was the most expensive dish we tried. It came with grilled mushrooms and caramelized onions which were a very tasty addition. I really love going to a place like Shirley for a change, because I’m always afraid of the prices, but in reality Shirley’s Bayside Grille is a nicer place to spend your afternoon than any of the in and out sandwich shops but really has prices that are about equal anyway. If you’re with a group, the variety on the menu just adds to its appeal.


The atmosphere and service at Shirley’s was as expected. The waitresses were friendly, the food came quick and cooked perfectly. The music weather and tables were all great too. I can see why Shirley’s has been in that spot along Dunlop Street for over 15 years. It was very busy inside the restaurant as well. If anything, the interior eating area seemed like a nicer atmosphere than the patio. But I guess I’ll have to try the main seating area for dinner one night. Also, Shirley’s Bayside Grille is featuring live music on Wednesday nights if you’re looking to go out for a relaxing and lounge-like setting sometime. I don’t think it gets as rowdy as some of the bars and pubs the rest of downtown Barrie has to offer, but I can’t say for sure. Check it out! It’s a great lunch spot in Downtown Barrie.

Written By: Michael Whone

Check out Michael’s Website and follow him on twitter @whoneranger

Barrie Jazz and Blues Festival XIX June 2014



I wish my editor could insert sound bites in this review so that I could provide you with auditory tidbits to sample, but my words and photos will have to suffice. You simply must mark your calendars for the winter version to tempt you and hold you over until next summer, as the Barrie Jazz and Blues festivals are not to be missed.

Robin Munro is the organizer extraordinaire of the Jazz and Blues Festival and with his “right hand ma’am” Sharon Winchester they have garnered together a stellar group of sponsors, partners, and media supports, of which Simcoe Dining is one. With such vast community support you are assured stellar performances; from the crème de la crème of jazz and blues musicians, the up and coming new talents and the charming recital students, new to their craft, each will delight the audience.


I have heard more music in the last ten days then I thought was humanly possible and I loved every minute! From the Out to Lunch jazz concerts at the rotunda in Barrie City Hall with the aforementioned Yamaha piano, glossy in its instrumental glory, to the Heritage Park Concert Series, and a multitude of venues in-between. I saddled up at bars, sipped coffees, and danced on the grass under a magnificent moon. If there was music to hear, there was a crowd of music lovers eager to share the scene. This festival creates community within our community, bringing together a wide range of musical styles in a broad assortment of venues. Hip Hop at the Urban Village, the cultural richness of The First Peoples Concert, heartbreak Blues, classic Jazz or the Sunday Morning Big Tent Revival Meeting, we had it all.

My faves;

I was blown away by Tia Brazda; when she played at Manhattans, her stunning vocals literally stopped traffic, I mean that. I saw drivers that simply had to brake and listen to Tia sing, regardless of the stoplight colour. Listeners of CBC Radio 1 and Jazz FM91 will be familiar with her release “Cabin Fever”. I suggest you take note; she is a star that will shine bright. Hard at work in studio on her next release titled “Hard Luck”, Tia Brazda doesn’t need luck, this lady has talent and I suspect it will take her far.


Shane Dennis, AKA “L.S.”; Barrie knows this man, married to the Unity Market, weekend warrior for year round Sunday community clean ups, he who camps out in the winter to raise much needed funds for those in need. I refer to Shane as “altruism personified”. He is a humble activist who works tirelessly to make the world a better place. Shane also sings, and he sings very well. As host to the Urban Village Concert he had the crowd on their feet in obvious adoration and admiration. Impressive.



The First Peoples Concert Series; rich rhythmic drumming and dancing, the poise and grace of the Jingle Dancers, Logan Staats on stage from Brantford, and then the rocking performance by Marc Nadjiwan. This man has presence; his talent, his heritage, his father is Finnish his mother Ojibway and his height, he commands the stage. Tight with the guys in his band, they appear to enjoy making music and as such we feel it, we enjoy listening. Conversation with Marc was enlightening; he will be playing the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto. I hope to be there.


Paul James at Sticky Fingers, this is now a Jazz and Blues Festival tradition for me, it should be one for you too, it just works, ‘nuff said.

Ditto Jack de Keyzer. He is the crème de la crème. Billed as the Festival Finale Concert, “A Great Moments in the Blues” concert, it was a recreation of Buddy Guy’s “Left my Blues in San Francisco” and it was amazing. The tent flaps were blowing, the hands were clapping, and encores were called for, classics were played, including a personal favourite, Mustang Sally. The crowd rose in unison to bop and jive as Jack de Keyzer jumped stage and roamed the length of the Heritage tent, delighting us with his guitar mastery, bringing it right down to us, we felt his music, every note. This is why the man has won Juno awards.


An observation; I thought the established clubs and restaurants could create more promotional buzz for the jazz and blues performers playing in their venues. A few of the musicians mentioned this to me also, with talent of this caliber they should be playing to packed houses. It would be great if there were links on the Barrie Jazz and Blues Festival website to the restaurants and clubs websites and have them updated daily. It was great to see social media presence, but more of the restaurants could participate. I commend Robin Munro for bringing us this festival; it is a labour of love that enriches our community.

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

SoupHerb Soups

Paula Card was raised in a Portuguese family and nourished on real food; one branch of her family tree were dairy farmers, the other grew veggies. Boxed and packaged food were unknown, KD was but initials. Along the way as if by osmosis, Paula learnt the value of healthy eating, healthy living and how to pick a ripe watermelon. Fast forward to a relaxing dinner with her husband Michael, a glass or two of wine sipped, a bowl of tomato tortellini soup supped. As Paula tells the story; their appreciation for the flavours in the soup may have been the seed of inspiration, or perhaps it was the wine. In a moment of post digestive contemplation, Michael burst forth the following statement. “We should sell this, and we should call it soupherb, this is brilliant, we should do this”.


They stayed up into the wee hours creating their business plan. Familial talents were pooled together, cherished recipes old and new chosen, “SoupHerb Soups” was launched and has been a fixture at the Barrie Farmers Market for almost five years.

Last year in a divide and conquer maneuver, they added the Collingwood Farmers Market to the mix with father in law, Mike Card assuring that the soup is on in that neighbourhood.

This is a family that works well together, making sure that their superb SoupHerb Soups is selling where the customers want it to be!

At the new SoupHerb Soups production facility they are operating a state of the art kitchen with amazing induction burners; they have zero emissions, a minimal carbon footprint, no exhaust vapors and use a third of the energy consumption of traditional cooking sources.


Honestly with the shiny silver pots filled with soupy goodness, it just looks and smells great there! With freezers filled to the brim, a take-out counter for lunches was deemed a necessity when local business folk had noses pressed to the windows with hungry curiosity, requesting warm bowls to go. Let’s talk flavours, about forty when I tried counting from the blackboard list. Some of my faves include Apple Parsnip and Brie, Spicy Thai Chicken, Carrot Ginger, and of course the Tomato Tortellini that started it all off. This is really good soup, and I confess that I consider myself rather a soup connoisseur. Dietary needs; they have a soup for you including Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian, Lactose, Paleo, Low Sodium, Diabetic Friendly.

With mother in law Pam Card as organizational and operations person in the kitchen, having run a successful deli for many years, they have a wealth of expertise in-house.

Local suppliers are sourced for their ingredients, and local business supports SoupHerb Soups. Our own MacLaren Gallery serves SoupHerb Soups!

Also on the menu are some amazing chickpea flourless peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, try them frozen, seriously these cookies are a treat! SoupHerb Soups also makes a very tasty granola. “Commitment to the quality of yesterday, with the convenience of today” is their motto but I think more fitting perhaps is Paula’s humorous references to a certain Seinfeld episode.


Whatever she may say, this is not the Seinfeld Soup Kitchen, and be assured, there is soup for you! By the way, she may be tiny, but like that certain TV show character, you don’t mess with the soup girl. Paula Card has a veritable wealth of experience in numerous fields; as a Certified Personal Trainer, a Physio Therapy Assistant and a Registered Massage Therapist, additionally this woman is a fully trained Muay Thai Fighter. When Paula Card tells you to “Now Eat”!!! She means it.

SoupHerb Soups
130 Saunders Road, Unit 2 Barrie ON L4N 9A8
Phone: 705-309-0729 or 705-718-7426

Written by: Penelope Morrow

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

Savour the Flavours – “A Tastefully Delicious Event”

With a wealth of experience; 25 years in the trade show business, co-founder of the highly successful Seasons Christmas show, Tracy McKnight and her husband, Dave Brown, were thrilled to offer this high caliber event to Barrie residents.

Moving to Barrie three years ago, making our neighbourhood their home meant investing in the community and offering Barrie residents the same style show as our neighbours to the south are privy to. Tracy McKnight believes that Simcoe County can be a place that showcases the tastes of Ontario, and the Savour the Flavours show is her way to introduce the community to her talents in the trade show arena. By sourcing and supporting locally; from location to designers, decorators and printers, the investment stays in our community also.

Being community minded is not only a catch phrase; Tracy McKnight is committed to all community members and wants to give back. By encouraging guests attending the event to bring nonperishable food items, a substantial donation was made to the local Food Bank.

Tangle Creek was a great venue for the event; I greatly appreciated free parking!


Walking onsite I was pleased to be greeted by food trucks. Barrie take note; food trucks are a fab addition to the local restaurant scene. Both Smokinstein and S.W.A.T. were braving the cold and offering up breakfast and lunch items, so to be fair, darling daughter and I ordered something from each truck. Beef sandwich for her, a Philly cheese steak for me, warm and filling for us both!

I was pleased to see that the Tangle Creek staff were accommodating to those who brought their food truck meals inside to the warm and welcoming bar areas, so a well-deserved shout out to management for supporting, nay encouraging this.



Booths to the left of me, booths to the right, I stepped in prepared to sip, sample, photo and tweet. I was thrilled to see some of my local favorites, hello Cravings; they who surprisingly made me a quinoa convert, and greetings “Me.n.u” absolutely wonderful to meet you, thanks for introducing me to your amazing Asian Fusion street food. Can’t. Stop. Thinking. About. It.


Sophie’s Sweets Café and Cake Shop, I need another slice of the PB & J bar.

Sweets and savories, tea, coffee, wine and beer, BBQ’s and cookware, if you could eat it, cook with it or pour it in a glass, it was there!


Savour the Flavours welcomed two well-known names from The Food Network; Celebrity Chef Anna Olson was providing both food demonstrations and the opportunity to purchase an autographed copy of her newest cook book. While host of License to Grill; Rob Rainford, treated the audience to a show of his substantial grilling talents. Crowd pleasers both!

I tasted, I savoured flavours and I wore out the iPhone battery with my tweets, it was then time to head home to digest.

Kudos to Tracey McKnight and Dave Brown for bringing their fabulous vision of a food show to Barrie, I can’t wait to see what they offer us next!

Matrix North Events Inc.
Producers of the Seasons Christmas Show and The Fashion Show & Sale
PO Box 20059 Bayfield North Barrie, ON L4M 6E9
T: 705.719.9473 F: 705.719.0075

Tracy McKnight
Dave Brown

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

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.


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.


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.


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

Written by: Michael Whone

Follow Micheal on Twitter @whoneranger or visit his website