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

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.


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.


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.



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!



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.


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

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.

*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

Sponsored By:

Chow Place Calphalon flat bottom wok giveaway to a registered user, picked at random. November 25, 2015
Recipes for everyone.

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.


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 .


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.



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.


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.






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.


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


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.


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

Mary Brown’s Famous Chicken and Taters in Barrie

There are a number of things which I liked better from Mary Brown’s rather than the obvious KFC offerings.

It’s strange though; I definitely like Popeye’s chicken much better than KFC in more ways than one, but what kept me coming back to KFC over the years is the sheer number of locations and where they are located. With a location in the same parking lot as the Value Village, and No Frills on Wellington St in Barrie, Mary Brown’s should do fine, but it’s not the same as having a restaurant in the Georgian Mall or beside a Walmart.


The restaurant itself was very pleasing to eat in. Everything was cleaned very well, and sometimes the staff was cleaning up the tables immediately after customers leaved. I guess if you go you can be sure there will be a spot for you and/or your group. As well as the high standard of cleanliness, the restaurant still had that typical “new chicken joint” feel to it. I do like getting in on the action before a fast food place turns into a worked in machine like most Tim Horton’s franchises in Barrie have become. Not to say it’s a bad thing but the newness is apparent still.

But, I’m going to say that for most customers, Mary Brown’s is going to be a takeout joint and it was apparent as we sat and waited for out orders. I can say that the lineup was surprisingly long at times, considering it was only 3PM on a Saturday. I guess I was surprised that people had already jumped on the Mary Brown’s bandwagon in just a few months of existence. After eating the food I realized why.


A lot of times I go out specifically for taters and I can say the Mary Brown’s taters are easily the best I’ve had. They make their taters very crispy, with just the right type of salt and spice to them. Most places I’ve went to for taters, they were either kind of soggy or blandly spiced or over cooked so they tasted dry. This wasn’t the case at Mary Brown’s. The taters alone are worth returning for. About the fried chicken though, I can say it’s not quite as greasy as KFC or Popeye’s but has a wonderful seasoned flavour and succulence. I admit, it’s not the greatest food for your health but sometimes fried chicken just hits the spot.

Other things on the menu include: chicken sandwiches, wings, wraps, chicken fingers, pulled chicken sandwiches. All meal combinations come with either macaroni salad or coleslaw.

The price at Mary Brown’s was fair, and what I absolutely thought was a steal was the medium taters, which I specifically went back for after having a traditional chicken meal. The medium taters was quite large (chip stand sized) and only cost $6.00. But I have to say, for the quality of chicken, and because I’m used to the quality at KFC, the prices at Mary Brown’s are entirely reasonable, and worth switching for, if you live in Barrie.


All in all, I’m glad I tried Mary Brown’s. I don’t often eat fried chicken but if I had the urge again, Mary Brown’s would be the best choice. However, because the taters were so good, and I get my groceries from that No Frills, I’ll probably pick up the taters while I’m there.

Written By: Michael Whone

Follow Michael Whone on Twitter @whoneranger

What’s Open and Closed in Barrie Easter Monday

Here’s a list of what services are open in Barrie, Orillia, Midland and Collingwood/Blue Mountain this Easter Monday.

Closed April 21st.:

  • Government services (schools, Canada Post, Service Ontario, etc.)
  • Barrie Library

Open April 21st.:

  • The LCBO / Beer Store will be open, some locations at shorter hours
  • Garbage collection on normal schedule, except for Orillia
  • Transit (GO, Barrie, Orillia, Collingwood) on regular schedule. No service in Midland.

In addition: There will be NO Barrie Transit Service on Good Friday, April 18th, 2014 OR Easter Sunday

Links: (Service Ontario)
Collingwood (Colltrans)

Barrie’s Royal Thai Cuisine


The dishes were delightful, light and filling all at the same time. As well as having a pleasurable meal, I experienced dishes which I’m not usually accustomed to. The Ginger Beef dish had a mixture of light vegetables and plenty of juicy beef pieces. With the side of rice, either sticky or steamed, the dish was overall very filling and I was quite content to leave with leftovers. For the same price the Garlic Chicken had a mixture of snow peas and broccoli, and had a slightly sweeter garlic sauce which was also quite nice. By comparison, the sticky and steamed rice were equally good, and there were also some fried rice main courses to try.


Although the two main dishes I had a chance to try were not the most expensive on the menu, at $9.99 it seemed like a nice value on this dining experience. Some dishes were upwards of $14.00 if I remember correctly. I should also note that as an option, I could have had my dish either mild, medium or hot. The last time I went to a Thai restaurant, it was in hopes of finding the spiciest sauce ever. I’m sure if that’s what you were looking for, the hotter offerings might suit your fancy quite nicely. I’m sure you may even be able to get them to whip up something even spicier, but I could be wrong.


There were so many order possibilities to choose from at Royal Thai Cuisine. I was sort of surprised that there were a few curry dishes on the menu and I would have loved to try them too. But in terms of possible occasions, and for the typical downtown Barrie customer, a soup, order of spring rolls with a side of steamed rice would have been just plenty for a lunch order. The service was quick enough to whip that up on an hour lunch break.


I have to say, it seriously put the restaurant in good favour when I tried the ice cream and fried bananas. It could have worked on its own as well as following a meal. Truly a simple dish to recreate at home, yet in the context of this light meal, it was perfection. I also liked the appetizers, as well as the light dipping sauces that accompanied them.


The only downfall I could see to these types of offerings is that it may be difficult to attract small children. Other than that, the atmosphere was quaint, pleasing and attractive. It was mostly quiet with subtle Asian music playing. The Asian décor was to be expected, yet was completely tasteful and very much suitable for a fine dining experience. But with two large private dining areas, (one of which was secluded in a large bamboo hut design) this restaurant is the perfect attraction for a party. I’d love to go back there. It would have been a blast for 6-10 people.

I’d also like to have Royal Thai delivered sometime. The restaurant offers standard takeout orders for 2-4 people and the menu can be found on their website at

-Written by: Michael Whone

View Royal Thai’s profile for hours and location

Follow Michael Whone on Twitter @whoneranger

Think About Drink; a review in three parts.

Cravings, Creative Space and Laurentian University Lecture Series:

When I think of community, I think of a cohesive whole, when I contemplate good food, I understand that using the best possible ingredients will create a meal that will excite the taste buds, satiate the physical hunger, satisfy the soul, and when this writers busy mind needs mental stimuli, I turn to intellectual ideas and great conversation.

What happens when all these wants and needs are met in one place? Well dear readers, magic happens.

This is a review about collaboration in its finest form.

Collaboration by definition is simply working jointly together. While effort and exemplary organizational skills may help with outcome, sometimes the bits all line up and things just work. Sylvia Hunt, Professor extraordinaire from Laurentian University explained to me that the Laurentian University Speakers Series came about as she conversed over coffee with her colleagues.


This esteemed bunch, are an interesting group of passionate folks, or as Ms. Hunt refers to them as, “an interdisciplinary community”. Her “office is beside someone from History, next to a Sociologist, across the hall from someone in Political Science, around the corner from someone in Business, it makes for an eclectic atmosphere in which to work”.


The educators share their enthusiasm for learning in the classrooms with the students, and with three post-secondary institutions in the Barrie area; Georgian College, Laurentian and Lakehead Universities, we have a plethora of educational options, a wide diversity of views and abundant opportunities. Ms. Hunt felt that this diversity would make an interesting format for a series of talks. Her colleagues agreed. Stepping out of the classrooms, they choose to share their talents and interests with the community by means of a themed series of lectures. The first of the series was held in the fall of 2013, entitled “Food for Thought”, the second theme, presently offered is “Think About Drink”.


The Creative Space is the location, the ideal space, a perfect collaborative environment to bring together the speakers and the audience in our downtown core.

Chad Ballantyne created the co-working community that is The Creative Space, giving freelancers, startups and micro-businesses the opportunity to work and collaborate in an innovative, creative community focused space. It is a glorious space. By day filled with desks, the walls an ever changing myriad of local art work.

“The Morals” practice in the basement space, lending a melodic backdrop to evening events. With a committed community focus, the space is available for social agencies or charity groups at a reasonable rental rate. This is a feel good locale that walks the walk, be it for social or environmental responsibility, education and mentorship focus or historical and cultural leanings, all of which matter deeply and as such, are carved in their code of ethics.

It just feels good in this place, which I strongly suspect enhances the work done by those that call The Creative Space their workplace home.


Enter Cravings; the final component to the lecture series, the piece de resistance, the edible factor. When Laurentian University approached Cravings to cater “Food for Thought”, suggesting that perhaps fruit and cheese plates with some coffee for a beverage would be hospitable offerings, Cravings Fine Food Market & Catering, well versed in events, knew they could make the comestibles far more interesting. They did this by working with the lecture series’ specific themes to develop a tasting menu that genuinely supported each evenings event.

As one who attended all the “Food for Thought“ lectures and now looks forward to the Wednesday nights of “Think About Drink”, I can attest that Cravings does their culinary research and treats us to an amazing array of nibbles, amuse bouche, mini mains, sweets and drinks.

Craving’s is Angela Pidutti and her partner in life and business, Craig Russel. Angela grew up in Sudbury and as such her affiliation to Laurentian University is far reaching. For Angela this is working with a piece of home.

Growing up, home was a family that knew real food, good food, a family of entrepreneurs who held full and busy lives, they found family time together sharing a meal.

Cravings reflects this in their philosophy. They understand that by providing real food alternatives to fast food, we can stop by and pick up side dishes or a full meal from their hot table or amply filled freezers to take home to share with our families.

Cravings event manager, Jennifer Allen, shares sentences with Angela Pidutti, an interview with them is a conversation in quotes. It is a joy to see how easily the ideas flow.

The focus is on providing very good food, be it at the store or any event they cater; catering is their specialty. The hot table is impressive; stocked daily with an amazing selection of lunch and dinner items, sides, and mains, fabulous panini sandwiches and the best salmon salad I have ever had.

In store they also sell products from local suppliers which complement their items. The sweet potato and taro chips are a favorite of mine.


Collaboration, like a great sandwich, the crusty panini bread cradles the flavours, the tender onions complement the shaved rare roast beef, the savory condiments lend tang, it satisfies, it all works. Shared values, commitment to social good, bringing together their best to our community, as Jennifer Allen said when speaking about the collaboration with The Creative Space and Laurentian Lecture series, “you would pick them as a partner in gym class, you just know you would play well together”. This sense of camaraderie, of team spirit, has arrived in our downtown core on Wednesday nights, get thee to Dunlop Street and share in the spirit.

Collaborate together.


Laurentian Lecture Series takes place 7-8 pm Wednesday evenings April 2, 9, 16, 2014

The Creative Space 12 Dunlop Street East, Barrie 705-812-0689 @acreativespace

Cravings Fine Food Market & Catering131 Commerce Park Drive, Unit A, Barrie ON L4N 8X1

Written by: Penelope Morrow

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