Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Asparagus Tour

 Last month, I was lucky enough to be on the Asparabus tour to Norfolk County (@NorfolkTour), organized by Steven Hellman of Foodies on Foot (@foodiesonfoot) along with Asparagus Farmers of Ontario (@onasparagus). With the perfect weather, it's all worth taking a day off work for me where I get to learn everything about local Asparagus and get a taste of other Ontario's offering.

First stop was the Welsh Brothers Farm where we were given a quick 101 on Asparagus which was very interesting and all new to me. Did you know that with ideal weather, an asparagus can grow up to 10 inches in 24 hours period? The Asparagus seasons in Ontario only runs from May to June but we still manage to grow 12 to 15 million pound per year which is more than $25 million crop.

At the fields, we watch as seasonal workers from Mexico were harvesting the asparagus with only a butter knife. It's harvested by hand because they only pick spears that are taller than 9" and let grow anything shorter. We were also given more Asparagus facts such as how it is a long lived crop that can be productive for 15-20 years if given proper care. And did you know that no pesticide is needed for asparagus and only herbicide is use to get ride of weed around it.

We also got to pick a few spear to eat fresh, frankly I never really had raw uncooked asparagus before but it was so delicious.

Inside the production facility, the asparagus are rinsed, trimmed, sorted, sized and packed which are then ready to ship to retail, restaurants and specialty food store.

 After a short drive, we arrived at Bonnieheath Estate Lavender and Winery where we were greeted by Business Development Coordinator Ted Willey from Norfold Tourism who gave us some background on Onatrio's Garden.

Then it's time to stuff our faces with the Fairly Fat Guys' grilled Asparagus and BBQ pork.

Bonnieheath Estate Lavender and Winery is filled with lavender, grapes/winery and apple orchards, love the beautiful space and it couldn't be a more perfect space for our lunch stop. We got to get a taste at their wine and also the Apple & Apple Cherry Cider which was a big hit among us and at $5 a bottle, many bought cases home.

Our lunch by Chef Tracy Winkworth was filled with asparagus and fresh local bounty including Ontario Pork (@OntarioPork).

The day couldn't get better after the yummy lunch an cider, they have a lavender shop, being my favorite scent it made my day. I bought their natural essential oil bug spray which I have been trying to find, I will not go back to the stinky sticky drugstore version ever again since I try the essential oil version last year. I even bought a lavender plant home, let's see how it grows.

We were offered a goodies bag and 11 Lbs of freshly picked Asparagus to take home. We were encourage to share asparagus recipe online but frankly it was so fresh that I mostly ate mine raw with a lemon paprika yogurt or a mustard mayo dip.

Thanks Foodies on Foot (@foodiesonfoot) and Asparagus Farmers of Ontario (@onasparagus) once again for inviting me and can't wait until the next tour.

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