Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Olson Foods at Ravine (Niagara Region)

1366 York Road
St. Davids, Ontario

July 26, 2010. Update: Olson Foods is no longer at Ravine although there is a restaurant there (that I have yet to visit).


My sister L, her boyfriend D and his twin brother J decided to come for a visit from Montréal. We enjoyed some Himalya takeout when they arrived. The next day, we planned to go see a few wineries (even though I was just there with my friend MC a few weeks back!). This time, we went a bit farther into Niagara-on-the-Lake. Being both fans of the show Fresh with Anna Olson, my sister suggested we go to Olson Foods in Niagara.

Anna and her husband Michael have two locations in the Niagara region. They first opened a store and bakery in Port Dalhousie. They've more recently partnered with Ravine Vineyard and opened a gourmet bakery and deli by the vineyard in St. Davids.

Olson Foods with a beautiful view of the vineyard.

We were lucky to have a glorious July day. Olson Foods is set up with decks in the front and back. We chose to sit at a picnikc table with a view of the vineyard. Water was brought out in a rustic looking bottle that fit the atmosphere of the vineyard. I was very intrigued by the cherry juice ($2.50) on the menu and decided to order it. I was not sure what to expect; the cherry juice was on the tart side, similar to pomegranate juice. My sister got an unsweetened iced tea ($2.00).

Water, iced tea and cherry juice.

I was a bit worried that the menu would be on the expensive side and was pleasantly surprised that it was quite affordable. The menu was broken into two categories: small plates for $5 and large plates for $10. We decided to order a few items and share among the four of us. First, we got one of the specials of the day (that was not on the menu): fried green tomatoes with a Vidalia onion sauce. While the green tomatoes were perfectly fried, my sister and I really enjoyed the accompanying sweet Vidalia onion sauce.

Fried green tomatoes.

We also decided to order the Feature Artisan Cheese with Crostini and Bee Baron Honey. The feature cheese was a blue cheese that we all enjoyed. I especially enjoyed the combination of the cheese and the sweetness of the honey drizzled on top. I'll have to try that combination again! We did wish there was more crostini to eat the strong blue cheese with.

Blue cheese and crostini.

Next, we ordered two large plates. We got the pizza with tomato, basil and fresh mozzarella. I love simple pizzas with just a few ingredients and this one did not disappoint. I also have a weakness for thin crusts, I guess.

Pizza with tomato, basils and mozzarella.

The next large plate we ordered was the Southern Ontario buttermilk fried chicken with biscuits and classic slaw because who can resist fried chicken when you have the chance? The two pieces of chicken were perfectly fried and the meat was moist inside. My sister and I could not resist adding a bit of the Himalayan pink salt that was on the table. We have a problem... I really enjoyed the clearly homemade slaw but L prefers her slaw with vinaigrette rather than creamy. The biscuits were small and cute. It felt a bit ridiculous cutting them into two!

Fried chicken with bisuits and slaw.

We did not eat too much at lunch because we were still planning on visiting a few wineries and also because Anna Olson is known for her sweet treats. The first show she hosted was Sugar where she made all sorts of delectable desserts and baked goods. We knew we had to order dessert in a major way! My sister and I shared a rhubarb galette while J got a berry and peach crumble. Both were quite enjoyable. However, the best dessert choice went to D, who ordered a lemon square. I couldn't see myself "just" ordering a square. What a mistake that was! The square was perfection itself. Rich, thick crust with the tartness of the lemon flavour. I will have to perfect the lime square recipe I usually make... Even better yet, I'll have to make Anna Olson's lemon square recipe!

Rhubarb galette, berry & peach crumble and lemon square.

When we first came in to Olson Foods, we noticed chef Michael Olson working behind the counter. Later, we saw him come chitchat with some customers and also refilling iced tea glasses. How sweet! I wanted to get his picture taken for the blog but had a shy moment so conviced D to go take his picture for me. When he did, he mentioned my blog to Chef Olson and how it came about. (My first blog was about my travels to Vietnam.) Chef Olson had some comments about Vietnam so I came and talked to him. He seemed very knowledgeable about Vietnam and its foods. He explained to me how he met someone who went to see fish sauce being produced and wanted to taste the top layer of the fish sauce, the equivalent of fleur de sel from fish sauce! (I also saw fishes being dried for fish sauce and vats of fish sauce. It's a stinky business!) He had a little bowl of fleur de sel and explained to me how it's made. What a friendly person!

Chef Michael Olson.

As I was chatting to the Chef, my sister was shopping in their little store. She came out with specialty salt and a crinkle chocolate cookie ($1.50) that we had later on between wineries. Again, the cookie was divided into four. It was a unanimous decision that this was the BEST crinkle cookie we had all tasted. It was so chocolatey, like eating a brownie in cookie form. We all regretted not buying more. Luckily, I found Anna's recipe online and will have to try it in the VERY NEAR future!!

This crinkle cookie will be marked in our food memories forever!

We went next door, where we had a taste of Ravine Vineyard's Gewürztraminer. My sister and I really enjoy saying that word and figured out how to pronounce it correctly. Unfortunately, I have no knowledge of wine and don't have anything to say about it. Suffice it to say, L & D bought a bottle that we enjoyed with dinner! We went to see a few more wineries in the area.

L tasting some Gewürztraminer and visiting Inniskillin.

We encounted a few road side fruit stands and decided to stop and buy some cherries. I felt bad earlier in the week while enjoying Washington cherries. I was asked if they were local and meekly answered no. So I decided to get me some local Ontario cherries. The little boy behind the fruit stand could not be cuter selling "che-w-ies" and advising us that the trees behind the fruit stand were "ap-w-icot" trees.

Local Ontario cherries.

We could not have been luckier with the weather and the great food we enjoyed. Anyone who visits Niagara-on-the-Lake should stop by Olson Foods, if only for their crinkle cookie!

For previous post about Niagara Region:
Zooma Zooma Café & Upper Cheese Company

1 comment:

EatTravelEat said...

So much cherry! I've never tried a glass of cherry juice before anywhere but I know what to expect from it. The photo of the baskets of cherries and the boy is so nice!