It’s only 30 minutes from Ottawa but it feels like a world away.
I’m at the 1/3 mark of my time here in Ottawa and so far I’m loving it. I’ve found my coffee spot, eaten in Hintonburg, became a Star Wars character, did Yoga with Justin Trudeau and I spent a night in jail just to name a few experiences. What I haven’t done yet is get outside of Ottawa proper to see what else is available to enjoy. I’ve heard that just west of the city is a small town called Almonte, part of the Ontario Highlands, and well worth a visit.
Thanks to my friends at Ford I can do a road trip. They set me up with a super zippy Ford Focus ST and even gave me one in my colour!
A quick entering of my destination coordinates into the GPS system and off I go. In no time at all I was nearing my destination with a craving for a coffee. Thankfully the listeners of Ottawa Morning had responded with coffee shops from all of the region to try and one of them just happened to be near Almonte and it was right in front of me, Equator Coffee Roasters. Time to fill up my caffeine tank with fuel.
Fuelled up I’m ready to go the last couple of kilometers to Almonte.
It is so quaint I feel like I’ve stepped back in time. From start to finish the historic main street only tales about 5 minutes to walk if you don’t stop. I stopped because I spent just over a 1.5 hours exploring the shops and drinking in the historic sights.
Everywhere you turn buildings from the 1800’s and 1900’s have been renovated and updated, repurposed so to speak. Coming from the west coast I just love seeing building that have so much history and a wealth of stories behind each brick.
There is lots to explore along main street but I’ll highlight a few places I really enjoyed and I think are well worth you stopping by. First up is Peches & Poivre, a cute little kitchen and culinary store. Filled with fun kitchen gadgets and specialty food items what makes Peches & Poivre special is the large percentage of hand crafted and locally produced products they carry. Most notably michaelsdolce which is THE jam and spread of the region.
Next up is Baker Bob’s. It was hard to capture in pictures the awesomeness of this bakery, partly because they were packed (it was hard to shoot around shoppers) and partly because they were selling out of fresh baked goods. I was able to snap up some raison scones, a cinnamon bread loaf and cookies for my accommodations host as a thank you
Fun Fact – Did you know that Almonte is the birthplace of Dr. James Naismith, the inventor of Basketball? Well it is and they have a museum to celebrate it!
Next door to Baker Bob’s is a great little antique store called Tin Barn Market. A treasure trove of Re-purposed, Re-Invented and Re-Loved items are everywhere. If only I had room in my suitcase….
After all this exploring I was getting hungry. Everyone said the best place to eat was Heirloom Cafe Bistro. Who am I to argue with Everyone so that’s where I went.
Situated inside the restored woollen mill which was made the area famous the Heirloom cafe is a real find. On the first level is the cafe and the second level which is open to the first is an art gallery space displaying work from local artists.
I was starving and looking over the menu I was challenged. I wanted everything! I settled on a Cream of Leek Soup, the Lamb Burger with Chevre & Hilary’s Pickles, the Pulled Pork Pizza and last but not least a Crème Brule. I know I’m going to need a wheelbarrow to leave the restaurant!
To wash it all down I enjoyed a refreshing house made Lavender Lemonade.
That was quite possibly one of the most enjoyable meals I had had in ages. The Lamb Burger was the best I have ever had. What makes it even better is that Heirloom Cafe Bistro Chef and Owner Richard sources from local farmers and producers. Another Farm to Table success story.
To say I had a great time in Almonte would be an understatement. I had a blast and I’m so glad I made the effort to escape downtown Ottawa if only just for a morning. It was well worth it.
My last sight as I was about to leave Almonte was this man driving his war jeep to visit with some of the veterans. It kind of says it all 30 Days In Ottawa is about uncovering the awesomeness around us and this awesome was only 30 minutes west of town.