Story by Waheeda Harris
Vacay.ca Senior Writer
ORANGEVILLE, ONTARIO — Farm to table isn’t just an idea at Hockley Valley Resort — it’s a devotion.
This four-season resort located in the rolling hills just north of Orangeville isn’t just a favourite of event planners, obsessed golfers or those who want to indulge themselves in the 8,000-square-foot spa. It’s now a foodie haven, featuring locally grown ingredients on the menus of its numerous dining options.
Fuelling this focus on food comes right from owner/chef John Paul Adamo, whose parents originally purchased a 28-room hotel in the mid-1980s. Fast forward to 2012, and the small hotel is now a spacious 104-room resort on 300 acres that is expanding its offerings after investing $5 million in 2010 as part of the resort’s 25th anniversary year. It’s a resort that is home to an indoor and outdoor pool, an 18-hole Thomas McBroom golf course, adjacent to the Bruce Trail, and an activities component that includes guided snowshoeing and 15 alpine runs for skiers and snowboarders.
Garden to table
The resort’s organic kitchen garden is four acres of orchard and garden, encompassing more than 40 varieties of fruits and vegetables. Cared for by head gardener Santo Bertucci, the organic garden’s contents are a collective decision of Adamo, Bertucci and the resort’s kitchen managers, with influences from what they see from their farming colleagues in the valley. And don’t think you’ll have to search to find it — the garden is found at the entrance of the property, an extensive area that welcomes visitors — especially if you’re hungry.
It’s not a u-pick spot, but weekend guests and visitors can experience Pizza in the Garden (weather permitting until the end of October), choosing from one of the four freshly concocted pizzas, such as Garden Vegetable ($16) made in less than two minutes in the wood-fired brick oven, and can be accompanied by a pint of Hockley Valley Brewing Company Amber Ale ($6).
Diners will have to wait a few years before they can have a Hockley Valley Resort vintage with their lunch or dinner – although that is in the works. Located beside the garden, the vineyard was planted in 2011, and will be expanded from 6000 to over 12,000 vines this spring. Adamo hopes to have a Hockley vintage on offering in 2014.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner at Hockley Valley
With a garden that provides almost 80 per cent of the produce used in the Hockley Valley Resort kitchens, it’s no wonder dining options are all worthy of a visit.
Restaurant 85 Bar & Lounge is the multi-purpose space, a unique mix of cream and bronze tones with a modern combination of materials: marble, wood and metals as well as covered outdoor patio space. Serving a buffet breakfast every morning, it’s also used as an event space for the numerous weddings, parties and conferences.
Restaurant 85 hovers beside Babbo, the lobby lounge, with its small plates of tasty options such as heirloom tomato crostini, zucchini fritters or the smoked trout quiche ($6-$14). For those who want a casual lunch or dinner, indulge in the mushroom burger with portobello and oyster mushrooms paired with fontina, arugula and the house aioli ($14). Cocktail connoisseurs will appreciate the several unique concoctions, adding a dash of Hockley to old favourites such as a Cabin Caesar with a spicy housemade rim salt.
Observant diners will also notice three glassed-in areas adjacent to Babbo — the climate-controlled wine cellar as well as salumi and cheese caves. Additions during the 2010 renovations, the cellar features several Ontario vintages (Malivoire is the house wine of Hockley Valley Resort), while the salumi cave features in-house cured and dried charcuterie such as a cappicollo or sopressatta and the cheese cave showcases products sourced from Ontario and Quebec dairies.
Foodies will notice that there’s a definite commitment to local purveyors – with Sense Appeal Coffee Roasters, Hockley Organic Honey, Oyster Boy, 100km Foods, Kozlik’s Mustard, Beretta Farms, Best Baa, Hockley Valley Herb & Tea Company, Fifth Town Cheese and Our Back Yard name checked throughout the menus.
For dinner, Cabin has become a destination for guests as much as locals, and this resto could easily hold its own in any urban downtown. An intimate space of cream and chocolate brown, adorned with jars of preserves and damask wallpaper, the menu currently features seasonal starters such as garden-inspired Risotto ($13), Garden Tomato salad with arugula and Best Baa sheep’s milk feta ($17) or the Squash Gratin ($14). The entrees, such as Wellington County Beef Tenderloin ($44), Dufferin County Rack of Lamb ($42) or the Kolapore Springs Trout ($34), each features accompanying seasonal vegetable side dishes. Even desserts, such as a lemon tart with fresh berries and a meringue ($10), are made to order.
Now if you’re in need of some rest and relaxation, guests can sign up for one of the organic treatments at the in-house spa, and don’t worry if you get hungry – the Oasis Café offers lighter fare for those needing sustenance pre- or post-treatment. And if you have room, every night Hockley Valley Resort offers smores by a bonfire, a sweet finish to a day spent celebrating the valley’s offerings.
More About Hockley Valley Resort
Location: 793522 Mono 3rd Line, RR#1, Orangeville ON
Driving directions for Toronto: Head west along the Gardiner Expressway to Highway 427 North, west on Highway 7 until Gore Road. Follow Gore Road until the end and go west on Highway 9 until Mono 3rd Line, turn right, and 5km arrive at Hockley Valley Resort. (see map below)
Nightly rate: Rooms start from $256 per night for two with breakfast
Passes (golf/ski/gift certificates): For details on purchases activity items, visit the Hockley Valley Resort website.
Telephone: 519-942-0754 or 1-866-942-0145 or 1-866-HOCKLEY
Dining: Restaurant 85 Breakfast Buffet can be included in room package, Babbo for lunch from $14 while Cabin for dinner from $65 per person.
NOTE: Photos courtesy of the Hockley Valley Resort.