Driving in from Toronto, the first thing you notice when you visit Hockley Valley Resort are the rolling hills. This might just be the most pleasant drive in Southern Ontario – especially when the surrounding forest and farmland is dusted with fresh fallen snow. When you pull up to your destination, you’re immediately introduced to the cabin philosophy. There’s a teaching vineyard on your right with rows of sleepy vines waiting for spring. There are colourful beehives dropped in the 2-acre garden, waiting for spring to emerge.
My last visit to cabin – named in honour of the first structure built in 1865 on what is now the Hockley Valley Resort property – was my first in the winter months. The once lively rows of cabbages, peas and tomatoes were tucked under a few inches of snow and the orchard, whose sweet smells normally waft over to the parking lot, was long since bare.
In the kitchen though, things were alive as ever.
They’re churning out beautiful, local, farm-to-table-inspired plates dotted with preserved goods from their garden and locally-raised meats, even in the coldest months. Under the guidance of Chef Iniyan Vijay, the kitchen team makes fresh pasta, bakes breads and slices artisanal charcuterie from Tamworth pigs raised down the road.
The Adamos are the family behind this unique, food-forward resort property. Mario Adamo, along with his wife Nancy, arrived in Canada from Calabria as teenagers. Today, with the help of their children, they run most aspects of the 104 room, four-season resort and newly-opened winery. More on that later!
Everything about the meal at cabin makes you feel taken care of. From the moment they take your coat at the front desk to when they serve you your maple pannacotta with saba roasted grapes and toasted pistachios. Everything is good, but the fresh pastas are exquisite.
Noodles are made almost daily and tossed with seasonally appropriate, simple ingredients. While the spaghettini – “a simple and delicate mix of silky tomato sauce and handmade long pasta” – may be Chef Akshay’s favorite, I’ll be dreaming about the rigatoni for the better part of the season. The classic, tube-shaped pasta is served with pulled Ontario duck leg confit that’s been sautéed with a mix of Fresh & Tasty Farm mushrooms and truffles before being blanketed by a generous portion of pecorino cheese.
On the lighter side, summer tomatoes are replaced with autumn squash in the squash and burratini salad. Burrata is a semi-soft white cheese made from fresh mozzarella and cream. Chef Iniyan pairs it with maple and thyme roasted kabocha squash, sunflower seeds and pickled garden leeks.
Dishes in cabin yearn to be paired with beautiful wines. So naturally, the Adamos planted a vineyard on the far side of the property to make their own. On any given night, you can sip stellar pinot noirs and crisp, fresh gamay rosé produced onsite at Adamo Estate Winery. If you’re keen, plan to hop on the free shuttle from the restaurant to tour the vineyard and enjoy a flight before dinner. The winery is only a of couple minutes away!
The menu changes seasonally, so don’t expect to see the same thing twice – but don’t fret, you won’t be disappointed if you try something new on every visit. That’s the beauty of seasonal food after all.
cabin is open 7 days a week dinner and lunches Friday through Sunday. Adamo Estate Winery is open 7 days a week with public tours available Saturday and Sunday at noon and 3pm. Visit Hockley Valley Resort and Adamo Estate Winery for more information.
Written by: Agatha Podgorski, Culinary Tourism Alliance
Agatha Podgorski loves good food and is more-than-willing to travel for it. For the last twelve years, she’s made a name for herself cooking, eating and writing about just that. Today, she is the Director of Community Engagement at the Culinary Tourism Alliance.