A few weeks ago, I had the honour to enjoy a stay at the beautiful Hockley Valley Resort located in the Hills of Headwaters, in the heart of some of Ontario's most picturesque countryside. This resort is a year round destination, owned and operated by the Adamo Family. Mario Adamo and his wife Nancy purchased the resort back in 1985. The land was beautiful but the resort and its facilities needed a lot of work and love. Mr. Adamo saw past that and he had a vision and a dream of what he wanted it to be. Over the years, the Adamo family started working on their vision and decided to do a complete overhaul of the resort. From the ski hills, rooms, dinning and resort amenities.
"Between 2009 and 2011, Hockley Valley Resort unveiled a major $6+ million transformation that celebrates traditional Old World elegance and a homegrown philosophy. This latest transformation coincided with the 25th anniversary of the Adamo family’s purchase of the 300 acre property. The renovation included the revitalization of the parking lot, new landscaping, a renovated lobby, Babbo Wine Bar, wine cellar, and the launching of Restaurant 85. In addition, the resort constructed and opened a 2,600 sq.ft. open concept restaurant, aptly named ‘cabin’ after the first building on the property. Today, with Nancy Adamo beginning her retirement, the operations are now under the capable watch of her children John Paul Adamo and Julie Adamo. Carrying on the legacy, the Resort is recognized as a culinary destination with outstanding guest service."
For more information, about the resort, the family, their amenities, dinning and whether it be a romantic getaway or a fun filled family stay, click on the link Hockley Valley Resort.
Our room was was very inviting and elegant as we stayed in the the Premier Room. It featured two Queen size beds with elegant dark wood furnishings, comfortable and plush bedding that made for a wonderful restful nights sleep. It featured a balcony where we could enjoy a morning coffee or an afternoon cocktail overlooking panoramic views of the valley and their Championship 18-hole golf course designed by renowned architect Thomas McBroom.
The resort pool is absolutely beautiful. Surrounded by picturesque views and beautiful landscaping for privacy and relaxation. Spending time poolside was very therapeutic and for those few hours, it felt like you were swept away to a secluded destination. Complimentary chilled Infused citrus water was available to hydrate you and their poolside bar and restaurant was in arms reach for you to enjoy a delicious farm to table lunch and a featured or your favourite cocktail made by their mixologist.
Now, I want to talk about and take you into what I am most passionate about and what I fell in love with at Hockley Valley, their farm-to-table concept. The resort has a full time gardener who takes care of the two-acre fruit and vegetable garden that supplies the produce for the resort’s restaurants. True to their culinary philosophy and sustainability practices, Hockley Valley also supports local farmers, producers and artisans by using the fruits of their labour in their restaurants. I had the honour to spend a few hours with Linda, their gardener as she walked me through their beautiful garden and shared with me all that they grow, the challenges and about the passion that goes into maintaining the grounds to ensure their guests are provided with the best quality and organic food when they dine in their restaurants.
From beans to a variety of summer squash and cucumbers, this garden is blooming with in season beautiful vegetables that are used to inspire their chefs to create dishes for their guests.
With tomato season upon us here in Ontario, the resorts garden is full of may varieties of sweet and juicy tomatoes. From these heirloom cherries to their beefsteak and San Marnzano.
Being an Italian family, there is no shortage of fresh basil in their garden. They grow the Genovese Basil which is one of the most flavourful and aromatic varieties. I was lucky enough to be gifted a harvest for my family to enjoy.
These adorable baby carrots are of the Paris Market variety. A little round carrot that is a nineteenth-century French heirloom! This is an early orange-red carrot that grows almost more like the shape of a large radish. They are so tender and delicious and I was so excited to take these home.
The Resort garden also grows fruit and edible flowers. Pictured here is their watermelon and marigolds.
Beautiful Sunflowers highlight and brighten their ngarden! As you can see, the bees really enjoy their presents and beauty. Hockley also has bees. As part of their 'SAVE THE BEES' program, they produce their own Pure Cream Honey with no antibiotics or chemicals an all natural honey that is flavoured from the flowers that surround the Beehives at the resort and their winery.
Our farm-to-table dining experience was at their Cabin restaurant where Chef Iniyan and his team bring their culinary passion to create in season and unique beautiful styled dishes for their guests.
The Cabin came to be in honour of the first structure built on property in 1865, it draws inspiration from the picturesque and romantic countryside in the Hills of Headwaters region. It combines rustic and modern décor elements, including reclaimed hardwood floors, wooden beams from an old barn, and a 16-foot steel and glass chandelier.
“The concept for cabin marks an exciting and significant stage in the Resort’s evolution,” said John Paul Adamo, President and Co-Owner at Hockley Valley Resort. “cabin allows guests to connect with chefs, enjoy a diverse sampling of local fare, and experience the region’s beauty.”
The culinary experience is defined by our farm-to-table philosophy on food. The à-la-carte menu will celebrate the best of local cuisine, using only the freshest ingredients from the Resort’s two-acre fruit and vegetable garden, seasonal preserves, and fare from local farmers and suppliers.
What also attracted me to this resorts philosophy and dinning, is that they are Feast On certified. This is a program that recognizes businesses committed to showcasing Ontario's unique tastes of place. Why Feast On?, It supports our local economy and Ontario's hardworking farmers and artisans. Why is this important? It builds our local food identity, puts dollars back into our community and limits our enviromnmental impact. A "Feast On" certification proves you are fighting the good fight. It lets people know that by choosing these restaurants, they are supporting our food system as well. What won me over is two key manifesto points that captured me that state "to educate the public about Ontario food and drink and to bring further awareness to its strong agricultural sectors" & "to develop Ontario's culinary identity by celebrating regional tastes and champions local, seasonal ingredients"
I had the opportunity to chat with Chef Iniyan and his role as a Chef. He says, for him, "Passion, Skills, Innovation and Hardwork makes a Chef. His love of of farm-to-table, growing organic food, inspires and feeds his passion as a Chef. This philosophy, translates to his team by educating them on the importance of growing your own food and supporting local farmers and artisans. His mandate with his team is that they are to spend time in the garden with their gardener once a week to help maintain it and get educated on what they grow and the importance of the the Resort garden. Chef Iniyan definitely plays a crucial role as an ambassador for supporting local and providing the best for his guests. Someone I definitely look up to and look forward to enjoying many more of his dishes.
The Adamo family also makes their own Extra Virgin Olive Oil! It is used in the restaurants as well available for you to purchase to enjoy at your family table. It is a delicious drizzling oil and sits on the counter in the restaurant featured with their own farm aromatic Genovese Basil.
I was so excited to dine at The Cabin and couldn't wait to see the dish offerings Chef Iniyan and his team created. We started off with a Tuscan kale salad with a buttermilk dressing, brioche crouton, saba, parmiggiano-reggiano. This salad was so fresh and delicious an the addition of the Caper Berry brought a touch of saltiness to a simple bite.
I am a truffle fan and these Parmigiano truffle fries with their house ketchup won me over. Fresh cut fries full of truffle flavour with every bite and a generous grating of cheese.
Can I say, this is one of the most favourable and creamy risottos! This Risotto, featured their farm summer vegetables of peas and zucchinis with bay scallops, shrimp morsels, mascarpone & mint
I am all about dishes from the sea. Growing up in a Greek Cypriot family, seafood was on our family table two to three times a week and I have grown to love and appreciate it. The Chef's Arctic char & scallop, featured their farm summer vegetable succotash, smoked eggplant tapenade, spinach crema, cured tomato & lemon gremolata. This dish was my favourite with so much flavour. The scallop was perfectly seared with a tender texture. The Arctic Char had a crisp skin and was very flaky. A dish I recommend you try.
After dinner, I didn't think I could make any room for dessert but Chef Iniyan and his team presented us with a sweet board we couldn't resist. Not only was the presentation welcoming for the eyes and our sweet tooth but this beautifully styled dessert board featured a taste of all their in house made desserts. Strawberry Trifle featuring 100km farm strawberries with pastry cream & crumbled vanilla shortbread. Budinodark, chocolate budino with genoise sponge a summer berry filling & whipped mascarpone. Banana Rum Caramel with banana bread, rum, vanilla mousse, butterscotch fluid & spiced pecan. Torta which was a GF chocolate ganache with coconut crema layer, mint & coconut milk sorbet. Every bite was heavenly and decadently delicious!!
Our dinning experience was truly a delicious and next level Culinary experience. Congratulations to Chef Iniyan and his team for the passion, creativity and love they put into each dish to make their guests feel very special and their experience memorable. I am looking forward to enjoying this beautiful resort and what it has to offer with my family.
In 2000, the Adamos purchased the adjacent property of 77 acres, where the current vineyard and Adamo Estate Winery is located and opened in September 2016. The Adamo family philosophy has always been driven by quality and hard work, beginning with Nancy and Mario, and following through to the next generation where Julie and John-Paul are now at the helm of the resort and building on that legacy. Mario’s sheer will and determination, combined with the family’s standard for the highest quality, is the foundation for Adamo Estate Winery. Along with their drive to succeed, the Adamos sought sage advice (from winemakers like Jonas Hinterland) and capable staff, like their Vineyard and Winery Manager, Shauna White, whose experience is surpassed only by her passion for excellence.With the vineyard now at 23,000 vines and 25 acres, the winery construction is now complete. It includes a 20,000 sq. ft. facility for production, wine tastings and retail sales. Click on the link Adamo Winery to learn more about the family, their story, the history and their wines.
As you walk through the beautiful grand red doors, you step into a welcoming family living space for you to sit back relax and enjoy a glass of wine in a stunning home like space that surrounds art that tell the family story and the many bottles of the Adamo wines.
As you make your way to the back of the winery, a view of the beautiful vineyard escarpment where you can relax and take in the picturesque view and enjoy a glass of wine with lite nibbles of local cheeses and charcuterie.
One of the wines that impressed me was the 2017 Legacy Viognier Roussanne. A perfumed wine with vanilla, peach and orange blossom that fill the glass. Secondary floral notes, creamy notes, lemon and apricot complete the aroma profile.What makes this wine so special, is that the labelling was art drawn by John Paul Adamo's young son. This truly speaks to the importance of family and leaving a legacy.
In hour of my visit and memorable experience at Hockley Valley resort, I have shared with you a recipe that inspired me after my time in their garden using their organic Summer Squash, Paris Market Carrots and raw creamed honey, to create a decadent chocolate baked donut that brings out the love and passion of what their philosophy and supporting local is all about.
I can't thank Hockley Valley Resort and their team enough for the most wonderful welcome and experience. I am looking forward to sharing all it has to offer with my family. We are very lucky here that we are able to enjoy a Resort close by that offers a complete package for couples, families or those who just want to get away for some self care with so many amenities and local fare all brought together with passion, love and creativity to bring the best to their guests. Visit Hockley Valley Resort's website www.hockley.com for further information about the family, their story, their amenities and to book your stay! xoxo