By Rebecca LeHeup for The Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance, a ‘Certified Good Food Fighter

Orangeville is home to a culinary tourists delight, the Hockley Valley Resort. Just over an hour northwest of Toronto, the 104-room resort boasts a 1.5-acre garden with everything under the sun planted in it, an outdoor kitchen, half an acre test vineyard and two restaurants.

The resort is family owned and operated and I had the pleasure of joining President and GM John Paul Adamo for a tour and lunch. John Paul is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and his passion for food has transpired into some delicious additions to the resort since he took over management two years ago. With the desire to give farmers a new outlet for selling their produce and provide locals a one stop shopping opportunity, JP launched a farmers market at the resort in 2010. The market takes place seasonally on Sundays from 10 am to 3 pm and has over 20 vendors.

New for 2011 is a Culinary Garden Series hosted in the outdoor kitchen every third Sunday of the month (from June to October). They are pairing seasonal fare cooked in the wood-fired oven and grills with Ontario wines. Their wine bar, Baboo, offers tapas style food and as JP says “regional Italian influences with the food they grow onsite”. Restaurant 85 serves up modern Canadian cuisine, again, influenced by the seasons. There are plans to open a third restaurant in 2012.

John Paul and I enjoyed a lovely lunch in Tavalo, their private dinning room off of the main kitchen (with a view into the kitchen). From the marinated grilled eggplant with red peppers, arugula paste and buffalo mozzarella to house made charcuterie, my taste buds were in heaven! The resort is a proud VQA Award of Excellence winner serving up wines from Norman Hardie Winery, Le Clos Jordanne and Hinterland Wine Co. to name a few.

Perhaps my next visit to Hockley Valley Resort will involve a stay over to attend the 22nd Annual Feast of Fields, which takes place at the Cold Creek Conservation Area in the Township of King (Sunday, September 11th from 1 pm to 5 pm).

Rebecca LeHeup is the Executive Director of The Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance.