On September 8th and 9th, instead of heading back to school with the rest of the world, we took a "mini-honeymoon" in Niagara-on-the-Lake and Stratford. Yes, we did purposely time it to co-incide with the first day of school. :)
Thanks to a wonderful gift from my department, it couldn't have been a more perfect experience. We stayed at a friend's lovely guest cottage, Wisteria House, and we had perfect weather. The Zoom Leisure bike tour of the historic old town and three wineries was idyllic, and it certainly is fun wobbling along the bike trails with just a *wee* bit of wine running through your system! :D
We visited three wineries: Lailey, Reif, and Jackson-Triggs (basically, small, medium and large), and, in addition to some excellent whites and quite good reds, got to sample quite a bit of the local ice-wine, which is world-renowned. The Jackson-Triggs tour also included a brief foray into their vineyards, through their fermenting facility, and down into their cellars, where they often hold wine-pairing dinners amongst the oak barrels.
Dinner at the Charles Inn was delicious: we shared a gazpacho that has inspired David to attempt his own; I had pan-seared salmon over pureed spinach with a wild mushroom tartlet that was to die for; David had halibut in a nice gingery broth; and we finished everything off with a trio of fantastic Quebec cheeses.
Our cottage-owning friend had recommended we ask them to seat us at a "special" table (not sure what she had in mind, but ours gave us a nice view of the sunset over my shoulder. We were also highly entertained by the bizarre conversation of the couple at the next table -- the woman seemed to feel it necessary to read the entire menu aloud to her husband, and to repeat to him everything the server said) and because we had mentioned that we were on our honeymoon, they presented us with a local sparkling wine from Konzelmann that chased our three courses of excellent food down with a little extra something.
The next day, we spent a bit more time visiting market stands and wineries on our own time. Southbrook has a gorgeous facility designed by the same architect who designed the new opera house in Toronto. They also make a spectacular framboise dessert wine. Konzelmann (they of the great sparkling) has vineyards that overlook the lake, making for a most picturesque setting.
Feeling a bit odd every time we saw kids being dropped off by their schoolbusses, we took the long road on secondary highways to Stratford to see West Side Story. Since David's not a fan of musicals, this was a bit of a coup for me, but the show was fabulous, so he couldn't complain. I seriously highly recommend seeing it if you can get down there before it closes!
Thanks so much to my department for such a thoughtful and amazingly apropos gift! It was the perfect way to kick off our year-off travels.
Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.