Escape and Discover: An Unforgettable Adventure with the 2017 Ford Escape

Escape and Discover: An Unforgettable Adventure with the 2017 Ford Escape

By: Alison Silveira

My latest adventure involved mystery, intrigue a whole lot of fun with Ford. I was invited to go on an exclusive weekend trip with other bloggers and the Ford team. The catch? I had no clue where I would be going until the morning of the trip. I had an inkling that we may go camping as we travel in the newest Ford Escape, but the Ford team had something else up their sleeves. 

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Lavender Gin on the Farm: 66 Gilead Distillery in Prince Edward County

By: Angela Guardiani

66 Gilead is a craft distillery near Bloomfield, Ontario, in the heart of Prince Edward County. As my intrepid travel companions and I pulled up, we noticed two things immediately. First, the distillery is housed in a lovingly restored 1874 mansion that manages to be both gracious and spookily Gothic. It would be a hell of a setting for a ghost story.Two, it's also a working farm, complete with free-range poultry that aren't shy of visitors. (I especially enjoyed watching the Silkie, a chicken that looks more like a Pomeranian than a bird.)

Inside the high-ceilinged tasting room with its original floors, I found an impressive array of both dark and white spirits.

One of 66 Gilead's most unique products is Canadian Pine Vodka, infused with pine needles. It tastes fresh and a bit citrusy. Their brandy is smooth and rich, made from local wine, and their Wild Oak Whisky is unusual and delicious. Peter Stroz, one of the owners, describes it as starting like a bourbon and finishing like a Scotch. I really fall in love, though, with their signature spirit – Loyalist Gin. It's incredibly aromatic. Peter mixes me a long cool cocktail with lemonade, Loyalist Gin, and house-made lavender bitters. I want to put my feet up and sip it all summer long.

You can find some of 66 Gilead's products in the LCBO, but if you visit – and I hope you do – I think you'll find that everything tastes better on the farm with chickens strutting proudly across your path. 

Angela Guardiani is a lady of strong opinions who lives and teaches ESL in Toronto. She is a food lover, grammar nerd, book junkie, and will try anything once. Follow her enthusiastic but sporadic tweets at @minorgoddess.

Headwaters Getaway

By: Alison Silveira

Earlier this month, I went on an incredible getaway in the Headwaters Region of Ontario, which is a mere 40 minutes drive northwest of Toronto. The Headwaters Region is a great travel destination for the urban dweller who needs a break from the fast-paced city life. The region includes the picturesque communities of Caledon, Dufferin County, Erin, Mono and Shelburne. I immersed myself in novel experiences and saw beautiful unspoiled nature, rolling hills and rural farmland as far as the eye can see. 

Where to stay: I relaxed in a luxurious suite at the Best Western Plus in Orangeville, which is in close proximity to the Hockley Valley Golf & Ski Resort and the Island Lake Park Conservation. My suite was quite large with two queen sized beds, a seating area and a kitchenette. Enjoy a complimentary continental breakfast to start your day on the right track. Take a dip in the pool to cool off after a busy day of hiking. Other amenities include room service, a fitness centre and complimentary WiFi.

Where to eat: Cabin is a chic and modern restaurant located at the Hockley Valley Golf and Ski Resort. Serving gourmet fare, Cabin sources local produce and fresh meat and fish. I enjoyed a delectable feast consisting of multiple courses. To start, I had the asparagus salad with beets and greens. The divine cheese ravioli with fiddleheads, ramps, peas, asparagus and crema provided excellent combinations of textures and tastes. The main course was a juicy and flavourful beef tenderloin accompanied with mushrooms, bacon and rapini. The perfect ending to the meal was a creamy rhubarb and strawberry panna cotta with delightful white chocolate popcorn. Great service and gourmet food await you at Cabin. 

For a truly unique and authentic country-style experience, I highly recommend paying a visit toLandman Gardens & Bakery. My fellow travellers and I were taken on a tour of the Landman farm, where we saw week old chicks, pigs and learned how goats are reared. After the tour, we dined in an intimate Blackhouse, which is a small a dry stone house built by the owner of the farm. We enjoyed delicious food, including pickled asparagus wrapped in prosciutto, homemade goat cheese, fresh salads with ingredients plucked right from the garden beside the Blackhouse and a smorgasbord of meats and cheeses. The intimate setting is perfect for a special occasions with family and close friends. 

Things to do: Go on a sightseeing flight over the sprawling countryside and view checkpoints of the Pan American Games torch relay route. I marvelled at the Cheltenham Badlands, which is an eroded section of dry land that is rust in colour and has small rounded hills. An experienced pilot at theBrampton Flight Centre showed me the sights of Caledon, Belfountain, Inglewood and Alton in a Cessna 172, which has room for three passengers. After your exhilarating flight, visit the neighbouringGreat War Flying Museum, which houses replicas of WWI aircrafts. 

Caledon is informally known as horse country and the highly anticipated Pan American Games will be held at the newly renovated Caledon Equestrian Park in July. Attend jumping and dressage equestrian events at the park, which will play host to 14,000 visitors and offers entertainment and an eatery on site. 

Take a cooking class with the Chef Pam Fanjoy at the Friendly Chef Adventures Inc. Chef Fanjoy is a dynamic and hands-on instructor that teaches practical kitchen skills. We were taught tips, tricks and knife skills that she had learned while training at the famed George Brown Culinary School. We made quick and easy chicken rice paper rolls and simple, yet delicious cashew nut chicken stir-fry. After we cooked, we enjoyed a communal meal together.

Handcraft your own jewellery with instructor Carol-Ann Michaelson at the Williams Mill Visual Arts Centre. I exercised my creativity by fashioning tubular shaped, colourful earrings. I worked with polymer clay using the Japanese metal-working technique called mokume-gane, where the materials are fused together to create a unique pattern. 

Take in an entertaining performance of a play or musical at Theatre Orangeville. The company encourages productions featuring Canadian talent and stages plays by one of Canada's preeminent playwrights, Norm Foster.

Where to Shop: There are lots of quaint little shops offering a plethora of wholesome and homemade items. Woolwich Dairy offers gourmet, artisan goat cheese products that are made and sold in Orangeville. The Spirit Tree Estate Cidery offers sparkling apple, pear and apple cranberry cider, as well as hard ciders. Enjoy their cider with an array of homemade culinary delights like Normandy apple bread and chicken liver pate. As if the mayor of Mono, Laura Ryan was not busy enough, she still finds time to bake and sell the most delicious and freshest of pies at the Hockley Village General Store. I absolutely adored her blueberry fruit pie filled in a flaky, sugared crust. 

There are no shortage of activities to engage in, food to taste, and places to explore in the beautiful Headwaters Region. I was pleasantly surprised and will certainly return to escape the hustle and bustle of city life in Toronto. 

Mother's Day in Niagara-on-the-Lake

By: Alison Silveira

Mother's Day is quickly approaching and I want to share one of my favourite memories of Mother's Day. My mother is a simple lady who would be perfectly happy celebrating Mother's Day at home sipping tea with her family. One year on Mother's Day, I surprised her with a trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake where we were able to spend quality time together and enjoy the easy pace of the charming town. I hope you will use this guide to get some ideas of how you can celebrate Mother's Day with the special lady in your life.

Where to Stay: I booked a two night stay at the historic Prince of Wales Hotel, which is in walking distance to shops, restaurants and theatres. Even before we enter the hotel, we are taken back in time as a man with a top hat sits inside a horse-drawn carriage waiting to take a couple for a leisurely ride.  

As we enter the hotel, we admire the elegant Victorian decor. We were very comfortable with our spacious room and Egyptian cotton sheets. Other amenities include fitness facilitates, The Secret Garden Spa, restaurants and afternoon tea service in the Victorian Drawing Room. If you want to make mom feel like royalty, I would highly recommend staying at The Prince of Wales Hotel!

Where to Eat: Hob Nob Restaurant & Wine Bar is located at The Charles Hotel. Diners can sit on the charming verandah and can take in views of the oldest golf course in North America, while enjoying a scrumptious meal. Elevated classics include the juicy beef tenderloin burger and Parmesan and truffle mac and cheese

Escabèche is a fine dining restaurant inside the Prince of Wales Hotel, that offers gourmet cuisine. The restaurant decor is regal and fancy. Mom especially loves their desserts, including the decadent chocolate dark royale, which is absolutely heavenly. 

Cow's ice cream parlour claims to have the best ice cream in Canada. Mom and I just had to find out if the claim is indeed true. There are a plethora of creatively named combinations, such as Moo Crunch, Wowie Cowie and Gooey Mooey. The ice creams we sampled were luscious and incredibly creamy. We can certainly say that Cow's makes the best ice cream we have ever had the pleasure of enjoying! 

Things to Do: I treated mom to a day of relaxation and rejuvenation at The 100 Fountain Spa at The Pillar and Post. The spa offers a wide range of services to choose from. Mom had the personalized facial and the esthetician catered to her specific skin needs. She felt completely rested and her skin was glowing! I opted to have the body energizing wrap, which consisted of first getting scrubbed with an exfoliant and then being covered in thermal mud to detoxify my skin. The scent of lime and mandarin lotion was quite invigorating and my body felt incredibly soft and silky. 

Niagara-on-the-Lake is known as wine country. Why not take mom to a wine tasting at Château des Charmes? Visit their award-winning St. David’s Bench Vineyard and indulge in wine tastings where you and mom can savour and sip the day away! 

Mom and I enjoyed world-class entertainment when we saw My Fair Lady at the Shaw Festival. The show was a delight with stunning choreography and actors singing beautifully. 

My mom can spend hours shopping, but she mostly shops for other people and is always so thoughtful. She had a wonderful time browsing the Just Christmas store, which is open year round and features all things (you guessed it!) Christmas. 

We found a few kitchen knick knacks in Serendipity: The Little French Shoppe, and of course she bought souvenirs for her friends! 

My mother does so much for me and I wanted to honour and celebrate her with a unique trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake. She enjoyed herself immensely and we definitely did a lot of mother-daughter bonding. I am looking forward to celebrating Mother's Day in two weeks!