Thursday, July 12, 2012

Niagara Is NOT Just The Falls!

Our second full day in Niagara was a "random day." We knew that we wanted to go beneath and behind the falls, but we also knew that would only take an hour. And we wanted to walk along the falls, but that too, would only occupy an hour. What to do with the remaining time?

Niagara Falls, Ontario, is full of high-rise hotels, souvenier shops, restaurants and bars, all designed to remove money from your pocket. I did a little searching and found a few vineyards just a short drive away. One vineyard, Peller Estates, offered two tasting classes. One was simply "Food and Wine" and the other "Chicks and Chocolates." (I did not make up those names.) We signed up for both and drove out to Niagara-on-the-Lake, a small town about 10 kilometers away. Since we arrived an hour before the first class, we decided to check out the shop, and then sit on the patio with a cheese sampler and a glass of wine each. (The theme of the day was WINE.)

 Me with my Merlot, Tammy with her Riesling.

Canadian cheeses: Creamy Brie, Bleu, and Aged Cheddar. Tammy preferred the Brie (which would fit her wine much better) while I enjoyed the other two (again, my wine paired well with those two.)

Then it was time for our first class, "Food and Wine." Our teacher, Jane, did a tremendous job of teaching us about how wine is made, why some wines naturally pair with certain foods, and most importantly, how to really taste the wine. To be honest, I thought I knew all that, but I was wrong. I left that class with a new appreciation for wine (and a few ideas for recipes when I get home.)

 From left to right: Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, White Eiswein
and Cold Pea-and-Mint Soup, White Chocolate and Raspberry Cake, and Chicken Terrine.

Jane had mentioned a few non-traditional uses for Eiswein, such as pouring over good ice cream, or in a martini. Something that we might need to try!

I don't remember these wines. The instructor focused more on the differences between the chocolates and almost ignored the wines. This class was not as much fun, nor as informative.

Almost all the wines we tasted (all those pictured here, as well as others in the estate shop) were very good. We only bought a single bottle, partly because of the cost but mostly because we knew that we were going to hit a few more wineries and vineyards in Pennsylvania and Ohio. (Little did we know at that time that we would never see a Pennsylvania vineyard on this trip!)

Returning to our hotel, we decided to walk to the "Beneath the Falls" exhibit. The entrance was located almost directly behind our hotel, but at the bottom of a steep embankment. We saw a "Incline Train" that would take us right to the entrance, but we thought we could just walk it. So we walked quite a ways that way. No way down. We backtracked a long way the other direction. Nope. Nothing. So we turned around and walked even further in the first direction, and eventually we found the path down. (Which is how we hit 10,717 steps on the Fitbit.) We walked along the river (the sight and sound of the falls is impressive) and then went under the falls.

 The American Falls
Horseshoe Falls. I wish I had recorded the sound for the blog.

Almost in reach.

We didn't get as wet as I expected, not even as wet as a trip to Seaworld and the Shamu Show.

We left there and decided to eat at the hotel. Fortunately, we got in even without reservations. The food was good, the view excellent (26th floor, overlooking the falls.) I ordered swordfish with shrimp etouffe, fried plantain and potatoes, and steamed vegetables. And a Vice (vodka martini with eiswine.)

My meal. I didn't take a picture of the martini,
but only because it didn't last long enough. It was very tasty.

We made it back to our room at 9:40pm, and at 10pm we were able to look out our window and see:

It's hard to get a good photo of fireworks from inside a room.
The fireworks were fun to watch, especially since most were bursting below the height of our room.

That ended a very enjoyable day in Canada. Our time spent in the vineyard was the high point of the day, and another example of having the most fun when doing something that was essentially unplanned. Earlier in this blog post, I gave the link to Peller Estates. Enjoy it, but don't plan to buy anything unless you are living in the province of Ontario. They can only ship to addresses in Ontario.

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