Collingwood

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Features

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How a small group of farmers and wealthy weekenders made the Melancthon mega-quarry protest a cause célèbre

An unexpected casualty of Toronto’s building boom is the sleepy southern Ontario township of Melancthon, where an American hedge fund plans to excavate $6 billion worth of limestone.

How a small group of farmers, and wealthy weekenders, made the Melancthon mega-quarry protest a cause célèbre

Fight Club: The farmer-chef Michael Stadtländer helped organize Foodstock, a quarry protest attended by 28,000 people (Image: Jason Van Bruggen)

How a small group of farmers, and wealthy weekenders, made the Melancthon mega-quarry protest a cause célèbreMelancthon’s windswept highlands spread out like a grand table underneath the sky. At 1,700 feet above sea level, southern Ontario’s highest point, the air is different: cool and often foggy, it’s a world away from smog-suffocated Toronto, which lies 100 kilometres to the southeast. The climate is ideal for raising crops, and tens of millions of kilos of potatoes are grown each year in the township’s rich, silty loam. The karst, or fractured limestone, that lies beneath the soil delivers an almost perfect drainage system—no matter how much it rains, crops never flood.

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The Informer

Real Estate

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Cottage of the Week: $3.3 million for a 45-acre country estate in Collingwood

ADDRESS: 8447 30/31 Side Road

NEIGHBOURHOOD: Collingwood

AGENTS: Carol Lome, Royal LePage Real Estate Services and Judy Crompton, Chestnut Park Real Estate Limited, Brokerage

PRICE: $3,295,000

THE PLACE: A six-bedroom, five-bathroom country estate perched on a hill in Collingwood’s Pretty River Valley. The property is winterized for year-round use, and is near Devil’s Glen and Osler Bluffs ski clubs, as well as some top-notch golf courses.

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The Dish

Openings

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Introducing: Farmhouse Tavern, a showcase for Ontario products in the Junction Triangle

(Image: Gizelle Lau)

There’s been a spate of restaurants opening just north of Bloor of late, and a full-blown explosion of places west of Bathurst, all the way out to Roncesvalles. The recently opened Farmhouse Tavern fits in nicely with both trends, situated as it is in the Junction Triangle on Dupont, a little east of Dundas. The new restaurant from Darcy MacDonell, previously general manager at La Société, is a tribute to the warm and inviting hospitality of the farmhouse in which he grew up in Alexandria, Ontario.

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The Dish

Random Stuff

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In a bid to stop the “mega-quarry,” Michael Stadtländer rallies (nearly) every chef we’ve ever heard of for Foodstock


Michael Stadtländer has rallied 100 of the best chefs from across Canada to participate in Foodstock, an epic, pay-what-you-can public food event on October 16 to raise money to fight the construction of a huge limestone quarry in the town of Honeywood, Ontario. The Highland Companies’ plan aims to span 2,316 acres of land and run 189 feet deep (deeper than Niagara Falls), and will have to pump 600 million litres of groundwater out of the pit each day (about the same amount used by 2.7 million Ontarians), all to extract crushed stone known as amabel dolostone.

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The Dish

Drinks

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David Lawrason rounds up some of the best Ontario wines from off the beaten track

New Ontario vintners are planting vines in unlikely places and making wine that will warm your indie-loving locavore heart.

(Illustration: Jack Dylan)

In the last five or so years, vineyards have popped up off the beaten track of Ontario’s wine circuit—in Norfolk County (Port Dover), Grey County (Collingwood) and the south of Prince Edward County (Milford). To adapt to the idiosyncrasies of their untested terroirs, trail­blazing winemakers are trying out new types of grapes and growing techniques. For example, at the Coffin Ridge winery near Owen Sound, they’re planting hybrid vines, like Marquette and Frontenac, that are designed to survive -34°C winters. To accommodate a growing season that’s two weeks shorter than that of much of the rest of Ontario, the Georgian Hills winery near Colling­wood plants early-ripening gamay. And at Burning Kiln, on an old tobacco farm near Port Dover, they’re drying ripe grapes in tobacco kilns to produce the big, flavour-rich reds that generally come from warmer climates. After a few years of experimentation, these small operations are now turning out intriguing, often very good wines, but because the LCBO doesn’t carry small-batch bottlings, you have to order them online or make the pilgrimage to the wineries. Here, nine bottles worth the extra effort.

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The Informer

Random Stuff

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Barrie parents blaming Wi-Fi for children’s behaviour in school are apparently unfamiliar with children, school

This is your kid on Wi-Fi (Image: Jeff Karpala)

From the grain of salt department: a group of  parents in Barrie are complaining that new wireless networks in local elementary schools have led to a number of bizarre conditions in their children. The Globe and Mail reports:

Some parents in the Barrie, Ont., area say their children are showing a host of symptoms ranging from headaches and dizziness to nausea and even racing heart rates…

The symptoms, which also include memory loss, trouble concentrating, skin rashes, hyperactivity, night sweats and insomnia, have been reported in 14 Ontario schools in Barrie, Bradford, Collingwood, Orillia and Wasaga Beach since the board decided to go wireless, said Rodney Palmer.

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The Informer

Business

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Caribana stiffed by feds and province, but golf and tennis get a bundle

Better luck next time: Caribana denied funding (Image: A. daSilva Photography)

This is starting to look like a trend: a major Toronto cultural event loses out on government funding and has to basically pass a hat to keep the shindig going: in May it was Toronto Pride, and now it’s Caribana. The annual festival of Caribbean culture applied for and was denied funding from both Ottawa and Queen’s Park. The Toronto Star, which has stepped in to sponsor Caribana, reports that organizers are taking this in stride.

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The Informer

Culture

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The super-sexy reason Scissor Sisters love Toronto

Jake Shears (Image: Neill Turner)

Electronic rockers Scissor Sisters professed their love for Toronto and Canada yesterday in an interview with the National Post, and we’d just like to say, the feeling is mutual. Apparently front man Jake Shears took away a very special souvenir from Toronto at the tender age of 18. “I met this really sweet construction worker from Collingwood and lost my virginity in Toronto at the Four Seasons Hotel,” Shears said. “He had saved up his money because I was only 18 and had nothing, and now Canada always makes me think really sweet thoughts.” Scissor Sisters’ new album, Night Work, was released yesterday, and it’s every bit as delightfully upbeat and artfully nuanced as their previous two works. Pride Week is on now in Toronto. Maybe we can convince them to swing by for a sequel to their Four Seasons adventure.

• Scissor sisters actually didn’t feel like dancing [National Post]

The Dish

People

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Out of Africa and into Ontario: the story behind Canada’s first grower-direct imported coffee

A:DFLDJF (Photo courtesy of Ashanti.com)

David and Amy Wilding-Davies with their Zimbabwe Coffee Farmers of the Year award (Photo courtesy of Ashanti.com)

Ashanti Coffee might not be a name recognized by many of Toronto’s coffee connoisseurs, but maybe it should be. The company established Canada’s first grower-direct importing scheme for beans, which are shipped from Zimbabwe, roasted locally (in Thornbury, Ontario) and sold in Toronto stores. Owned by Canadian Olympian David Wilding-Davies, an equestrian who competed at the 1988 games in Seoul, Ashanti is unique for its importation methods, its quality control and its survival of Robert Mugabe’s land reclamation campaigns.

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The Dish

Openings

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Just Opened: Haisai: James Chatto talks to Michael Stadtländer about his new, somewhat straightforward (but still deeply idiosyncratic) restaurant

If you build it, they will come: Michael St's new Singhampton restaurant, Haisai (Photo courtesy of Haisai)

If you build it, they will come: Michael Stadtländer's new Singhampton restaurant, Haisai (Photo courtesy of Haisai)

Michael Stadtländer, chef, environmentalist, multimedia artist and all-around gastronomical guru, left the world of regular restaurants behind in 1993 when he bought Eigensinn Farm, a 100-acre Grey County property where he’d prepare feasts for a few lucky guests at a time. This September, he’s returned to the fold with Haisai, a 28-seat restaurant and bakery in the village of Singhampton. The new spot shares the same whimsical style; he built all the furniture by hand and spent two years decorating the fairy tale–like rooms (think pebble-encrusted walls, seashell wall sconces, light fixtures fashioned from sawn-off wine bottles and the odd pair of antlers).

Here, we talk to the chef about his latest career move.

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The Dish

People

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Toronto’s espresso experts tell us of coffee’s second coming, what makes a good cup and why Starbucks isn’t all bad

Irregular joe: Chris Tellez pours his way to second place at the (Photo by Cristene ??)

Irregular joe: Chris Tellez pours his way to first place at the Regional Barista Championships (Photo by Cristene)

The atmosphere may have been frothy at the Seventh Annual Regional Barista Championships at the Gladstone Hotel last Sunday, but the competition was no cake walk. Fourteen coffee aficionados had 15 minutes to impress six judges (two technical and four sensory) with 12 cups each (four espresso, four cappuccino and four signature). Marks were docked for such Emily Post–like infractions as improper spoon positioning and more than half a finger nail’s worth of waste. We caught up with the top five winners and asked them about the second coming of coffee, what makes a good cup, latte art backlash and why Starbucks isn’t all that bad.

Like beer, which has been catapulted to celebrity status with the craft brewing movement, coffee has been gaining ground. The Toronto bean renaissance continues with a slew of new cafés, including an new eponymous joint from this year’s second-place champ Sam James, coming August 8.

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The Dish

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At any moment, something great could happen

While I was digging around salvage places looking for the finishing touches for Union (like sinks and mirrors and dishes), I came across some lights that used to hang in an old theatre in Collingwood. My gut told me to buy them and put them above me in the kitchen. I think all the drama, the concrete, the ’hood, the plumbing, the loans and the anxiety that have come with building Union out of an old karaoke dive have made me look at the restaurant in a different way. I now compare the undertaking with building a theatre on a lively street, where a play will run for as long as it can. Union—with its brick walls and barn floors and great lights and horseshoe bar and open kitchen—is going to be a big stage, an opportunity to perform, to dig in a little bit and see where it can go. If building Union had been smooth, easy and on time, I would have missed the chance to understand it this way, to see what it can become. Now I can define it; I can visualize the food and the flow and the acts. I want it to be a place where people perform and lift life up a bit and feel as if they could be anywhere.

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