February 11, 2011

Going Home

This past weekend I took a last minute trip to visit my folks in Southwestern Ontario. I don’t go very often because it’s a bit of a drive, and not a very exciting one. Once you hit the 401 it’s rock outcrops and country music until you reach Cobourg when some of the Toronto traffic roars by and the rock music returns. It had been a year since my last visit, a long time even though my mom and sister have visited us many times.

Shortly after starting on the 416 I realized I had forgotten to grab some CDs. I wasn’t looking forward to being stuck listening to the CBC (I know, I know, they actually have decent programs) or pressing the ‘seek’ button on the radio for 6 hours (there’s a reason country music was banned from our wedding). I was pleasantly surprised and encountered good music throughout beginning on the 401. That ‘seek’ button didn’t see much action and luck would have it, there was one good radio station after another. Partway I was singing along to some 80s tunes, then closer to Kingston I got K-Rock and ironically some Tragically Hip. Further along the highway I switched to a station playing a song with a nice little guitar melody. The lines were catchy. Then I heard the chorus ‘I hate Winnipeg’. I burst into laughter. Upon my return I learnt One Great City (check it out on YouTube) is by The Weakerthans and is about the love-hate relationship of their hometown. I could sympathize as I have a similar relationship with my hometown and only return to visit family.

This time I made the trip alone and it was nice as I got to have one-on-one time with my mom and dad. My family loves the Honey, but visits are different. My mom and I stayed up late chatting about anything and everything. Our speculations on people from the past, our plans for the next day, catching up not just on ourselves, but with people we knew. Over coffee and tea my dad and I talked shop and shared stories and frustrations about his parents and life in general. Visits to my hometown are usually short and when I have visits with those who I care about, I realize how short they really are.

One place I wanted to visit was the ElPeto Outlet Store in Cambridge to see what they had and if their prices were better than what I find in the stores here. Another was Ya’d Never Know Bakery, whose goodies looked delicious.

Rhonda Barr is the brainchild of the Valley Gourmet and the Back Alley Kitchen, home of Ya’d Never Know in Dundas, Ontario.

What began as a regular catering company morphed into a dedicated gluten-free bakery. One step into this little bakery you instantly smile. To the right are shelves of cookies and bread, to the left is a large freezer with items to take home, and in front is a cooler with pizza, lasagne, meat pies, and of course muffins, cookies and scones stacked on trays above.

The pizza is delicious.

The mini bagels taste like the real thing.

Another unintentional stop was Paris Health Food Store in nearby Paris, Ontario. It was a place I would visit on every trip to the area, but it had been a while.

All the baked and frozen goods are found in the back. If it isn’t from a larger company, it is made from scratch. Everything I’ve ever bought from this little place has been really good. On this trip I picked up some cheese buns; nice and light with some substance.

My only complaint is that the products are not priced. Some of the frozen goodies have a list on the freezer, but otherwise it’s guesswork. Also, prices have gone up a bit since my last visit (I know it’s been a while) to reflect the rise in cost of grains. Nonetheless, it’s worth it.

Although it seemed like my wallet kept coming out of my purse to buy something else gluten-free, it was worth it. If family can’t get me back to the area, the gluten-free bakeries will. ElPeto will be on the list again. Unfortunately we couldn’t get there in time; too much time was spent in Dundas (what a cute little place).

It seemed like my visit revolved around food quite a bit. Breakfast Saturday morning was at the Windmill in Mount Pleasant. While there aren’t any gluten-free bakery options, the breakfast is nice and simple and they have a great many products available in their fresh and freezer section. The majority of their products come from the area so it’s possible to get some homemade soup without spending the time on it. It is a family run business and every one of them is so nice (they toasted my GF English muffin for me – it helps that a sister knows them well too).

Dinner during a snowstorm took place at the Red Basil in downtown Galt (Cambridge). The tasty Vietnamese dishes were warming and enjoyable. One of the dishes came with the soy sauce on it after we asked for it on the side for my companions, so I’ll give them another chance on another visit. They were packed for Chinese New Year and the waitress may not have understood. Our group smiled when I requested a glass of the Shiraz and she asked ‘Red or White?’. Other than the oversight with the soy sauce, the service was great and the food delicious.

Brunch before coming home was at a little place near my dad’s in Paris. Scott’s on Scott (formally Kel’s) serves up a great breakfast. They always have something interesting on their special board, and like the Windmill, they don’t do anything funny with the ingredients (i.e. dredge the potatoes, etc). Everything is made there. The servers are a fun bunch too and know their regulars very well, including my dad.

Coming back to Ottawa was a breeze again, even though the ‘seek’ button was pressed more often. There wasn’t a rush as I’m not a football fan. And luckily enough, I beat another snowfall.


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