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Muskoka/Parry Sound

Welcome to the 2012 edition of Where Muskoka, available now

Throughout the process of working on 2012 issue of Where Muskoka (now available at marinas, resorts and LCBOs throughout the region), I was struck by something Samantha Pynn, interior designer and host of the HGTV Canada show Summer Home, said about how summer homes are all about reconnecting with family and friends. For me, this couldn’t be more true. As much as time at the cottage is about escaping our hectic Monday to Friday routines, turning off the BlackBerry and the email, and unwinding, soaking in the sunshine and swimming in the lake, time up north is always best spent when it’s with the most important people in our lives. (more…)

10 Ontario Hot Spots for Fall Colours

Photo courtesy of Ontario Tourism

By Merle Rosenstein

Fall evokes images of warm woolen sweaters, steaming hot chocolate and fresh apple crumble. In Ontario the end of summer is heralded by an eruption of colour—oranges, reds and yellows painted across treetops—and the gabble and squawk of birds as they migrate south. Autumn is a time of agricultural bounty in the province, displayed in farmers’ markets and at roadside stands: MacIntosh, Royal Gala and other tempting apple varieties are ripe for picking.  The drama of the season and the cool weather makes this a perfect time for a vigorous hike in the country. In the cities and towns, calendars are bursting with events from film and literary festivals to ghost walks and fall country fairs

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Hot Dining: Notable Newcomers

Sizzling steaks at Sidecut in Whistler

The regional editors of Where recently unveiled their list of 2010’s best new restaurants across Canada.

1. Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie – Vancouver, BC; 604-688-087; www.bao-bei.ca

2. Sidecut (pictured) – Whistler, BC; 604-966-5280; www.fourseasons.com

3. Prime Steakhouse and Lounge – Victoria, BC; 250-386-2010; www.primesteak.ca

4. Charcut Roast House – Calgary, AB; 403-984-2180; www.charcut.com

5. Zinc – Edmonton, AB; 780-392-2501; www.zincrestaurant.ca

6. Habitat Restaurant – Canmore, AB; 403-678-8880; www.granderockies.com/habitat

7. Segovia Tapas Bar and Restaurant – Winnipeg, MB; 204-477-6500; www.segoviatapasbar.com

8. Enoteca Sociale – Toronto, ON; 416-534-1200; www.sociale.ca

9. Taste, the Restaurant at Touchstone – Muskoka, ON; 705-764-5353; www.touchstoneonlakemuskoka.com/taste.html

10. Town – Ottawa, ON; 613-695-8696; www.townlovesyou.ca

11. Fujiyama – Halifax, NS; 902-492-1133; www.sushifujiyama.ca

Cottage Country Getaways

Want to learn where—and how—to make this your best ever stay in Muskoka? Check out these five amenity-packed resorts. By Viviane Kertész

Wherelist: Best New Restaurants 2009

Where editors from across the country have cast their ballots for the Best New Restaurants to open in Canada in 2009. From creative twists on traditional cuisines to stylish décors and high quality food for reasonable prices, these are the eateries you won’t want to miss from coast to coast.

Veneto Tapa Lounge, Victoria

Victoria’s best new restaurant takes traditional tapas to a whole new level. Led by chef Tod Bosence, the sophisticated, urban Veneto Tapa Lounge offers both a hip bar area and quieter dining room, ideal for enjoying Bosence’s creative dinner menu. Each entree is presented tapas style – those in the mood for beef, for example, will enjoy it three ways: veal ravioli with portabella mushroom ragout and roasted garlic cream sauce; marinated short rib with parmesan polenta cake; and New York strip roulade with spicy lobster stuffing and bordelaise sauce.

Cibo Trattoria, Vancouver

With London’s River Café alumnus Neil Taylor heading up the kitchen and ex-Lumiere general manager/sommelier Sebastien Le Goff in charge, it didn’t take long for Cibo to gain a solid reputation for its vibrant rustic Italian cuisine, thoroughly grounded in West Coast ingredients. Taylor’s dishes, which change by the week (if not the day), are constructed with uncomplicated—but wickedly exacting—flair.

Parker House Grill & Wine Bar, Calgary

Parker House is the kind of place where diners can experience high quality service, ambience and food, for a reasonable price tag. Chef Andrew Keen, known for his excellence in “forgotten fare,” has created a menu inspired by traditional New England comfort dishes with creative twists. For dinner, most entrees (with the exception of their steaks) sit in the mid-twenties range, while diners on a budget can try one of their thin-crust pizzas for as low as $12.88.

Creations Dining Room & Lounge, Sawridge Inn Edmonton South, Edmonton

Artful, delicious dining at Creations—the paint’s barely dry and the buzz is on for the eclectic Canadian fusion cuisine of Creations, the stunning new dining room and lounge in the atrium of the Sawridge Inn Edmonton South. Walls of fire, water, badlands hoodoos and a huge dreamcatcher treat the senses as menu items entice patrons to explore palate pleasers such as Sherried Beef Caprese.

Rustica Steakhouse, Canadian Rockies

Rustic has earned its place as one of the Canadian Rockies’ top restaurants for its elegant ‘mountain lodge’ atmosphere and uncompromising dedication to Canada Prime Beef. But it’s the cuisine of Caribbean-born Chef Stefan Mahon that keeps them coming back for more. Only the top 0.3% of beef in Canada earns Prime designation (a superior grade to AAA)—Stefan’s New York cuts, grand filet mignon and prime rib chops are prepared with a signature dry rub, seared under a 1500°F (815°C) broiler and presented on 500°F (260°C) plates with garlic butter.

Hermanos, Winnipeg

Winnipeggers are feeling the Latin heat thanks to the fiery flavours of South American cuisine at this year’s arrival of Hermanos Restaurant and Wine Bar. Set in a 5,500-square-foot warehouse in the Exchange District, fast lunches, tapas and mains are found on the mainly Argentinean- and Brazilian-influenced menu. The crispy fried empanadas are a must-try.

Raw Aura, Mississauga

Raw Aura, true to its name, offers a menu of entirely raw cuisine—the better to emphasize the natural and nourishing properties of fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and sprouts. In an intimate yet airy space, friendly staff dish out delectably fresh fare including a “peace wrap” bursting with avocado, tomatoes, carrots, kale, sprouts and hummus, and zesty lo-mein featuring noodles made of zucchini and golden beets.

Loire, Toronto

Loire, a self-described “casual gourmet” spot, well-situated along increasingly foodie-friendly Harbord Street offers fresh, seasonal dishes that could include chili- and cornmeal-crusted Lake Erie whitefish, grilled New York striploin and a succulent beef or lamb burger on challah bread. This intimate restaurant effortlessly straddles the line between relaxed neighbourhood fave and boldface fine-dining destination.

Teca, Muskoka

Overlooking Lake Rosseau is Teca, a fine Italian restaurant located within the luxurious Rosseau Resort & Spa. Surrounded by the natural beauty of the Muskoka Lakes, find this decidedly urban dining room and a centrally located open kitchen that dishes up authentic rustic Italian fare. Tuck into freshly made pasta—from papperdelle and gnocchi to spaghetti and meatballs—or thin crust pizza made in a wood-stone oven, as well as veal chops, fish, striploin and rack of lamb.

The Grand Pizzeria & Bar, Ottawa

Nestled on one of the most auspicious corners in Ottawa’s bustling ByWard Market, The Grand Pizzeria is a popular addition to the downtown dining scene. Built in the late 17th century, this enviable location once housed The Grand Hotel. Today, it’s home to the perfect pizza pie. Traditional Italian appetizers (antipasti, salads) make way for the main attraction: authentic Napoletana pizza. The dough is created and hand-pressed by Master Pizzaiolo Pasqualino Oliveri, who placed first in the 2004 European Pizza Championship, among other honours.

Pipa Restaurant & Bar, Halifax

Chef Luis Gaspar and partner Victoria Dunham Gaspar are longtime veterans of Halifax’s dining scene. And when they decided to embark on a project all their own, they saw a glaring omission in the city’s dining scene. Specializing in Portuguese cuisine, with rich, filling and full-flavoured dishes. Pipa is the only restaurant of its type in Halifax, specializing in Old World and Brazilian dishes such as Moqueca (fish stew) and Feijoada (a stew of meats and black beans). Seafood dishes abound, including fresh grilled sardines.

Weekend Roundup, July 10 to 12

Summer continues in Muskoka’s laid-back cottage country. There’s lots to see and do!

The Kee to Bala is Muskokas famed concert hall (photo by Reegmo).

The Kee to Bala is Muskoka's famed concert hall (photo by Reegmo).

Friday, July 10
Revere the reggae sound of Toots and the Maytals, as they reign over the Kee to Bala tonight.

Saturday, July 11
Admire the charm and history behind venerable vessels at the Antique and Classic Boat Show.

Coddle the kids with carnival buskers and crafts during Muskoka Summerfest at Bracebridge Bay Park.

See puppet shows plus dance and music performances at The Edge of Woods Theatre Festival in Huntsville.

Sunday, July 12
Marvel at Bracebridge’s downtown milieu as the Art in the Heart outdoor art market covers the town with colour.

Experience the rolling terrain of a traditional Scottish golf course by playing a round at Muskoka Highlands.

Weekend Roundup, June 26 to 28

Spa treatments, golf courses and gourmet dining—Muskoka has all you could ask for in a relaxing summer vacation!

Friday, June 26
Greet summer with a shimmer at Taboo Resort by indulging in the royal treatment of a glistening gold body wrap.

Admire Muskoka’s natural charms amidst an award-winning 18-hole design by Nick Faldo at one of Ontario’s premier golf courses, The Rock.

Saturday, June 27
Brush up on your brush strokes at the Group of Seven Mural Festival in Huntsville and contribute to the colour covering the town.

Treat your taste buds to traditional English high tea accompanied by select sandwiches, scones and sweets at Gravenhurst’s Blue Willow Tea Shop.

Sunday, June 28
Awaken the artist in your youngster at the Kaleidoscope Children’s Festival, which includes theatre, games, music and fun for the whole family.

Wend your way through Georgian Bay on a guided kayak tour from White Squall Paddling Centre, and marvel at Muskoka’s majestic milieu.

Weekend Roundup, June 12 to 14

Entertainment, fine dining, outdoor adventures and the rejuvenation of body and spirit—it’s all in a day’s (or weekend’s) play in Muskoka!

Friday, June 12
Book some seats at the Algonquin Theatre for music and dance as Muskoka Dance Academy’s year-end performance of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland amuses the entire family.

Luxuriate in the comforting confines of the Spa at Deerhurst Resort and savour the sweet and healthy minerals of its Muskoka Maple Sugar Body Polish.

Saturday, June 13
Discover the hidden heritage and cultural charm of 19th-century cabins and farms featured as part of Doors Open Lake of Bays.

Appreciate the woodcarvings and watercolours of wildlife, home and country on the annual Muskoka Lakes Spring Art Tour.

Sunday, June 14
Behold the breathtaking woodland vistas and elevated tee decks as you seek to tame the challenging, 18-hole golf course at North Granite Ridge.

Nosh on local specialties—like Ontario rainbow trout served with baby potatoes, zucchini, eggplant and summer squash—amidst the verdant backdrop of Algonquin Park at Arowhon Pines restaurant.

Weekend Roundup, June 5 to 7

Weekend entertainment is easy to come by in Muskoka!

Friday, June 5
Tee off amidst the lofty white pines and granite outcroppings of Windermere Golf Club, which this year celebrates its 90th anniversary.

Watch the sun descend below the watery horizon while enjoying fresh pickerel and Alberta-beef steaks at the Moon River Lookout.

Saturday, June 6
Spend a tuneful evening with American blues icon and slide guitarist Sonny Landreth as he stalks the stage at Peter’s Place.

Select from more than 60 wines off the award-winning list at Spencer’s Tall Trees. Food pairings include smoked fish and artisan cheeses, among other local treats.

Sunday, June 7
Discover the grace and style of the early 20th century on a boat cruise aboard the RMS Segwun, the oldest operating steamship in North America.

Delight in the delicate dancing of the Huntsville School of Ballet’s year-end performance at the Algonquin Theatre.

Weekend Roundup, May 22 to 24

There’s never a dull moment in Muskoka!

Friday, May 22

Fete the human form at Bracebridge’s Chapel Gallery by viewing A Body of Work, an exhibition of figurative sketches and paintings by members of Muskoka Arts and Crafts.

Escape to Bigwin Island Golf Club for a truly intimate day on the links—the course is accessible only by ferry, boat or float plane.

Saturday, May 23

Enjoy a morning of fresh produce and live local music at the Bracebridge Farmers Market, one of Muskoka’s oldest operating markets.

Experience the bluesy sound of singer-songwriter and guitarist Albert Cummings at Peter’s Place.

Sunday, May 24

Revitalize your senses with an aroma stone facial and wildflower footbath inspired by the natural surroundings at luxurious Spa at the Rosseau.

Gaze across Muskoka Bay while dining on a variety of fresh fish plus certified Angus beef steaks at Regatta Steak and Seafood.

Call of the North

Muskoka lake

The calm waters of Muskoka. (Photo by Mathew Ingram.)

This weekend is the Victoria Day long weekend, the unofficial kick off to summer for most Canadians. If you’re lucky enough to own a cottage—or have a generous family member or friend who is willing to play host—then you’ll probably be escaping to the northerly regions of Ontario this weekend.

Leave your laptop, your Blackberry and your cell phone behind. Unplug. Unwind.

I can already feel myself shedding urban life as the pristine lake beckons for a swim, or to cast a line and see if the fish are biting, or my favourite, an early morning canoe trip. I can already smell the burgers on the barbecue and see the mesmerizing, dancing sparks of the camp fire—made even better with some marshmallows roasting. And the n there’s the laughter of family and friends intertwined with the calls of  loons beneath a star-filled sky…

Have a happy and safe long weekend. We hope you’ll take lots of pictures and share them with us here at Where (you can e-mail them to me at lluong@where.ca, or post them to our Flickr group). You can also enter our 10th anniversary contest, too: Simply by telling us your favourite places to eat, shop or relax in the region, you can be eligible to win some amazing prizes!

10 Ideas for Family Fun in Muskoka

Whether it’s a languid day of lounging and swimming or experiencing the region’s varied attractions, Family fun is guaranteed!

1. Treat Yourself
Summer and ice cream go hand in hand. Grab a cone at Kawartha Dairy Company, where classic flavours such as strawberry and butter pecan meet original concoctions like moose tracks—vanilla ice cream with chunks of chocolate fudge and mini Reese’s peanut butter cups.

2. Wish Upon a Star
On a clear night the constellations
shine brightest up north. Pick out the big dipper and other astronomical wonders with the help of Backyard Stars: A Guide for Home and the Road, available from Readers’ World. (more…)