This spring we can do something we’ve never been able to do before in these hills: Visit a local vineyard and winery.
It was a meagre winter that waited until early March to produce the kind of snowstorm that Canadians love to hate, but secretly celebrate. It was an overnight storm, and morning dawned with a startling blue sky, sparkling white snow – and neighbours hailing each other with almost contrary cheerfulness as they shovelled out in the bracingly pure air. Then within a week it was gone. Which many might agree was a perfect winter – beautiful and brief. But as many also agree, it’s not the snow or the cold, but the dark that drains our collective spirit – and, oh, this winter had more than its share of plodding grey days, each drearily indistinguishable from the next.
So “easy” winter or not, it’s good to know that spring in the hills is full of sunny surprises.
Among the smallest but most endearing of them are the unfurling fern fronds and arrow shoots of wild leeks that hide in the greening landscape. In this issue, Don Scallen searches them out, along with other treasures foraged from the wild, to create an intimate meal sourced as far from the fluorescent aisles of the supermarket as it’s possible to get. And no less tantalizing, in the garden the first crop of asparagus will soon push through, lifting our spirits by inches a day. In our cooking class, Rustik chef Christopher Walsh adds a spring surprise of his own, spicing up winter-weary palates by fusing local asparagus with Mexican-style tortillas.
And this spring we can do something we’ve never been able to do before in these hills: Visit a local vineyard and winery. Tralee Pearce takes a preview tour of Adamo Estate Winery in Mono. With wines already making waves in Toronto restaurants, it’s set to ship an impressive 6,500 cases this year, made with grapes harvested from 18,000 vines on a hill overlooking the Adamo family’s Hockley Valley Resort.
And if all that isn’t new and remarkable enough, Nicola Ross visits a place where brothers Alf and Dave Budweth, chefs of a different sort, are making food, not for people, but for flamingos, gorillas, elephants and lizards.
On a very different topic, but still on the theme of the unexpected, is our cover story. Grant Ellis takes us inside the Athlete Institute Basketball Academy near Orangeville where a Canadian sports revolution is quietly under way. Here, high school basketball prodigies are bypassing the usual American prep schools to hone homegrown skills that will certainly launch some of those young players to the NBA.
So put away those winter blues – and prepare to be astonished!