Jet Set: Collingwood

While cottage weekends have come and gone, it’s still nice to get out of the city from time to time, if only for the night. While most of us probably associate Collingwood with skiing, hot chocolate and the Blue Mountain Village, trust us, there is whole lot more to do in Cwood all year round. One of our favourite times of year to head up north is during the fall, as the scenery and changing leaves on the drive up are always breathtaking. So if you’re looking for a quick getaway, we suggest jumping in the car and heading to one of Ontario’s most beautiful regions.

Scenic fall road.

Where to stay:
While there is no shortage of hotels and condos in the Blue Mountain Village (our personal favourite is the Westin Trillium, overlooking the whole village) why not try something different and check out one of the quaint bed and breakfasts in town? With Victorian decor and “modern British” cuisine, the Bacchus House, located three blocks from downtown Collingwood, is sure to make you feel like you’re on a mini vacation. For a more historic feel, there is is the Joseph Lawrence House which was built in the 1800s and is now a Heritage Home. Other B&B options include the Thurso House, Willow Trace Bed and Breakfast and Pretty River Valley Country Inn

The view from the Westin Trillium.

The beautiful, historic Thurso House.

What to do:
Whether it’s adventure, relaxation or both you’re after, there is always plenty to do in and around Collingwood. Start your day off at the Scenic Caves, do a guided tour, check out the suspension bridge, tree top walk or zip line: the views are breathtaking. For more activities  check out the Tees Please driving range or Adventure Park at Blue Mountain where you can try anything from mountaintop Segway tours to the Ridge Runner Mountain Coaster. 

Next, you don’t have to go to Niagara to taste local Ontario wines. Georgian Hill Vineyards offers tastings Wednesday through Sunday from noon to 5 p.m., we can think of few things better than sipping wine in the countryside. We suggest you end your day at the Scandinave Spa where you can unwind and enjoy the hot and cold baths, steam rooms (the eucalyptus room is amazing) and relaxation areas. Massages are also available if you want to turn it into a full spa experience.

View from the suspension bridge at the Scenic Caves.

Scandinave Spa.

Where to eat:
While the Blue Mountain Village offers pretty much anything you can think of, it’s often very crowded and VERY touristy. We suggest sticking to downtown Collingwood, or even venturing to Thornbury, the next town over, where you can find some of the most quaint and delicious restaurants around. Start with lunch or brunch in town at Cafe Chartreuse, Duncan’s Cafe, or our personal favourite, The Tremont Cafe. While the Tremont has some of the tastiest brunch food we’ve had, they also serve a pretty great (albeit a little pricy) dinner. Other great options, and places we’ve gone back to time after time include Tesoro, The Huron Club and Azzurra. And if you’re willing to make the drive to Thornbury (and we suggest you do) be sure to try Simplicity Bistro, one of many delicious restaurants in one of our favourite little towns. Note, Simplicty Bistro also offers a pretty divine brunch. 

The beautiful Tremont Cafe.

Azzurra Trattoria by night.
We hope we’ve changed your perception of Collingwood as nothing but a winter tourist trap. With more and more people choosing to live there year round, the restaurant and outdoor activity scenes have really flourished in the last few years, and are only going to get better. 

Yum, yum: Toronto Beer Fest

We had the pleasure of attending Toronto Beer Fest a few weeks back.
It was so good we went twice in one weekend, in fact. For a great price (about $38), you
can sample hundreds of beers from around the world and experience some great
food offerings. Plus, what’s better than an outdoor festival in the sun, with tasty local and international suds?

We tasted beers from all over the place, and there are so many that we enjoyed. It was tough, but we narrowed it down to our three favourite breweries.

Based out of Barrie Ontario, this brewery’s motto is “normal is weird.”
The style of this booth (and the beer) was exceptionally colourful and fruity.
Not into their very berry flavours? Grab a bottle of Hoptical Illusion, a
flavourful hoppy beer. You can often find us downing a pint of this at 416 Snack Bar for some post-work stress relief.

“Do one thing and do it well”, is the motto of this brewery. Not only is the beer refreshing, we had fun wearing the Steam Whistle box hats around the park, which have been a part of the experience at Toronto’s Festival of Beer since the brewery’s inception. Evidence below.

Normal is weird…
Based out of Tokyo, their rice lagers are very dry and extremely drinkable. Not only good for a visit to your fave sushi restaurant, the beer is perfect for a trip the cottage. Plus, for our wheat intolerant friends, this is one gluten free beer that doesn’t taste like a compromise.

While drinking pints, it’s necessary to have something great to
nosh on, lest we get out of control. Our favourite food vendors from the weekend were some local favourites

We loved the Gorgeous George, which includes a heavenly combination of
peanut butter, bacon and pulled pork. Sounds odd, tastes, well…. gorgeous.

The line up for this booth was absolutely the longest. But we could see
why after sampling their rolls, that consisted of chunky lobster, a light mayo
and crispy buttered bun. Drool.

Make sure to keep your eyes on the for regular updates about next year’s fest. You can bet your bottom dollar we’ll be there again! 

Rave: Delicious Wines Under $25

Shiraz, rose or chardonnay? With endless options to sift through as you make your way down the wine aisle, it can be tough to decide how to fill your glass. To help ease the decision making process, we’ve picked a few of our favourite wines, both local and imported. So relax, put your feet up, and pour yourself a glass without breaking the bank!

Blenheim, Ontario is home to a great little winery called Smith and Wilson. They boast some amazing wines all named after local hot spots, and a favourite is Rondeau Red – a Gamay/Merlot blend that’s smooth and delicious with barbecued meats and strong cheeses. It’s also only $13. Score!

In fair Verona, where we lay our scene… wasn’t that a line from some tragic love story? Unlike the tragic tale of Verona’s most famous literary citizens, this pairing of traditional Veronese grapes is one happy ending. We love the balance of cherry and tart acidity with a hint of spice. Masi Valpolicella tastes delectable with a variety of foods, from soups to grilled meats, risottos and fresh cheese.
Planning a girls’ night in? Try Pink, a bubbly choice from Yellowglen, Australia’s favourite maker of sparkling wines. Its soft blush colour, strawberry aroma and sweet mingling citrus flavours are the perfect pairing to seafood, like grilled shrimp. At only $11.95, all signs point to YES.

Year after year, the Niagara region’s Vineland Estates produces some of Ontario’s very best  Rieslings. One that has stolen our taste buds (and hearts) is St. Urban Riesling with its peach, tropical fruit and citrus aromas. Sweet and sharp? That’s our kind of combination! It pairs scrumptiously with citrus and cream flavours, including cheeses, pastas and fish.
This blend of Riesling, Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer works together much more smoothly than its name might first imply. With apple, lime and lychee fruit flavours, we’re keen on pairing Sibling Rivalry White with mango chicken salad or a classic fruit and cheese plate.
Those are our cheap and cheerful wine secrets. What are yours? Comment below or tweet us @rockitpromo.

Rants and Raves: Oceans vs. Lakes

Summertime and the living is… outdoors. Long weekends, trips to the cottage and backyard barbeques with friends and family really make summer Canada’s most popular season. This week, we had some inner office debate about waterfront lounging, which brings us to our most recent Rant and Rave: Lakes vs. Oceans. Surf and sand go up against docks and still water. The ladies that grew up on Canada’s coasts were firmly on the side of oceans, while those of us who grew up in lake-loving Ontario preferred freshwater.

The Ocean

Pensive by the ocean

– Salty sea water does wonders for beachy hair waves, heals wounds and makes your tan glow. Plus, beer tastes better on the beach.
– Sand provides an instant pedicure and can easily be moulded into the perfect beach chair, killer sand castle creation or hilarious burying hole.
– Watching the sun set over the water is pretty special when there’s nothing but blue as far as the eye can see.
– Canada has some of the world’s most beautiful coasts (especially Nova Scotia and British Columbia)
– Tides are pretty magical. Low tide makes for a lovely beach walk, and the tide pools left behind are an amazing glimpse into sea life. High tide is great for water fun like surfing, boogie boarding or sailing.

Tide pool at Peggy’s Cove

– Sand in your bikini bottoms. Exfoliates, but sucks.
– Jellyfish. They sting (and the common remedy is to pee on the affected area).
– Salty water can ruin a new colour job on your ‘do, and dry out your skin.
– Scary thoughts of the big, toothy sea creatures that lurk below the surface.
– Tides can steal beach toys and flip flops if you aren’t careful.

The Lake

Lake Huron

– You don’t have to be on a coast to find a gorgeous lake. Some are even smack dab in the middle of our city.
– There’s nothing like jumping off a dock or rock into the water after a long week in the office. Beer tastes great on a dock too!
– Water skiing and tubing are two of the most fun ways to spend an afternoon.
– Ontario has a gorgeous array of lakes dotting the province. We love Lake Huron, Georgian Bay, Lake Joseph in Muskoka and Canoe Lake in Algonquin (to name just a few!).

– Leeches. They are dirty blood suckers.
– You can’t really surf on the lake, unless you are nuts and go mid-winter.
– Stepping on gross lake weeds on the bottom.
– Hot summer evenings near the lake = masses of mosquitoes.
– Muskrats, otters and beavers. They’ll get you.

A Canadian muskrat. He doesn’t look so scary!

What do you like better?

Photo credits:
Peggy’s Cove:
Lake Huron: