This is inspired by the recent threads by a visitor to Ontario and of course, all the seasonal cottage country threads.
I am wondering what general "tips" people have for chowhounding outside of Toronto, other major urban centres and foodie places like Niagara/PEC. I think some of this stuff is specific to Ontario, with our sparse population, short growing season and perhaps a lack of food traditions. I'll share a few of mine:
- if there is a local bakery, stop in and see what slightly unusual items they have, and/or what the locals are ordering. Case in point, the chop suey buns at the bakery in Thornbury and the Chelsea Bun at the bakery in Southhampton. Not things I would normally order in Toronto but very good here. Other more common items are just okay.
- The locals don't necessarily have good recs. I don't think this reflects bad taste necessarily, I just don't think the bar is very high. People don't go out for great salads or pie or local meat... they go out to get stuff they don't make at home, like french fries.
- Don't expect local produce at the big grocery chains. Again, I think the locals are more likely to have their own gardens or friends who garden. Farmer's markets are popping up everywhere and of course, look for roadside stands.
- Anything that raises the bar even slightly over the standard frozen fries/burgers menu is likely to be a little pricey by Toronto standards
- If you see local fish on the menu, try it! Personally I'm a fan of whitefish and it shows up on surprisingly few menus, so when I see it I always get it.