The City of Temiskaming Shores, Ontario.
Pamela Hamel, Foods by Nature
‘Rugged gourmet’ best describes the Temiskaming terroir for its fresh farm offerings and gathered bounty from fields and forest floors. Be welcomed by iconic regional monuments – “Mable” the iconic dairy cow, a mammoth sized Bison, and a transport cab mounted 50 ft in the air – each symbolize the regions’ big heritage. This is a four-season destination with comfort food, string lit patios, servers slinging craft pints, urban style red brick eateries, roadside grills, markets, pick your own berry fields and agri-tours. The food scene here is robust!
But how can this be, so far North you ask? Think geography for a minute, the rift valley was created from the Ice ages, leaving a sediment base of limestone and clay ideal for crop and pasture. This expansive valley was originally known as ‘New Ontario’. French Canadians migrated to the area using steamboats to get up the Ottawa River around 1900. They came with an eager will and hopes of prosperity. They set new roots necessary to supply the logging camps with fresh produce, dairy and livestock. When silver was soon discovered, the hungry miners of booming Cobalt needed feeding and besides its grocery stores, at least one hundred restaurants relied on local food supply.
Today, the region continues to be a driving force in agricultural production for household basics like your morning oats, cheese and ice cream, your BBQ steak, pork and lamb chops or grain-based burgers. A straight line North from Toronto, Temiskaming’s bounty has been filling your belly for decades, you just didn’t know it! And the likes of Sudbury’s Cross Cut distillery is accredited for using local grains in their spirits.
Poutine is a staple here with hyper local ingredients sourced within a 20Km radius, like from artisan cheese maker Thornloe Cheese who has been milling out fresh milk curds since 1940. Local potatoes are in abundance for that perfect hand cut golden fry to savour with local beef bone gravy or jus. Take your poutine crave to new heights with Braised duck leg, haystack fries, smoked curds drizzled with a citrus port wine reduction at L’Autochtone, a Taverne Americaine. This innovative hybrid eatery and cultural hub blends foods and preparations from English, French, and First Nations culture with a focus on local and sustainable ingredients.
And when it comes to flame or grilled burgers – this town treasures their burgers. With a bounty of pastured beef cattle in their backyards, it’s in their blood to produce the best! While staying at the Waterfront Inn or Holiday Inn Express, you’ll want to explore Linda at Dida’s where you’ll discover her claim to fame tagline “we know burgers”; or, within a walking distance is Zantes, Ali’s and 28 On The Lake and Tap That BAR and Grill for burger heaven! Thai food, Chinese take-out and an up-and-coming Indian food culture, have can have any ethnic desire covered.
No matter where your travels take you, shopping the markets is where it’s at for curating slow mornings and bespoke moments with Amish donuts. Tri-Town Farmer’s Market is the camp cook’s pantry. Fill your baskets and coolers with floral salads, organic greens, fresh bread and a souvenir “Piggy Tail” food flipper. Over the last decade, the region has become a new frontier for many Mennonite and Amish families whose market gardening philosophy is best experienced here. Be sure to come hungry as they serve up a delicious hot breakfast. If you can’t make the Saturday market, try Fridays at Quality Meats in downtown New Liskeard.
Shopkeepers in downtown New Liskeard have all the campfire snacks, pastries, preserves and forgotten essentials. BE sure to find a souvenir tablecloth for your shore lunch picnics.
The trophy case of Temiskaming Shores boasts two time Grand Champion Thornloe Cheese and their grass fed butter named “Temiskaming Valley” and Canada’s best brie in 2020 “Evanturel Ash Brie”. Craft brewers Whiskey Jack owned the stage at the Ontario Brewing Awards with two gold awards “A Reason to Live” – American pale Ale and Ta-Beer-Wit- Belgian witbier and a silver for Abitibi Amber Ale. Be sure to watch out for the return of North on Tap, the region’s foremost party of craft beer!
Nearly all independently owned eateries showcase local ingredients on their menus, but a shining star of the menu around here is the Bison Burger. Bison du Nord, for a ranch tour for a complete field to table experience. The Belanger family’s story of ranching Bison in 1970 has evolved to become just one of very few certified grassfed farms in Canada. Come rain or shine, be sure to book a covered wagon ride for that selfie with a burly Bison … right.
Hail the Haskap! This new super fruit has made its way into the region at Verger du Terrior’s pick-your- own berry orchard. Their Indigo Bliss’s pepper jelly is a unique cheese board pairing and it makes a delicious glaze brushed over ribs. What’s a HASKAP you ask or how does it taste, check out Verger Du Terroir to satisfy your curiosity and get alerts for picking schedules.
Road tripping epicurean travelers who hunger for a tamed wilderness are captivated with the multi -cultural lake circuit, fittingly named the Lake Temiskaming Loop Tour. Experience wild mushroom foraging, farm to table feasts and taste tours on both sides of the grand lake – it’s a unique blend of three traditional cultures – Francophone, Anglophone and Indigenous. Where to Eat on the Lake Temiskaming Tour.
All in a half-day adventure, you can visit Thornloe Cheese, pick up a Devil’s Rock blue cheese pyramid and head to the famous Devils’ Rock cliff overlooking Lake Temiskaming.
Or, take a trek west through the bountiful fields to discover first class grub at Elk Lake Wilderness Lodge. Here, you can enjoy comfort classics on a pontoon rental up the Montreal River – maybe you can even catch your next meal!
There is an abundance of culinary awaiting you on this Temiskaming trail.
See you soon!