Cultivating Culinary Experiences

Wonderful dining experiences in lush, prepared gardens really do go hand in hand. However, ensuring that the dining experience is of the same terroir as that garden? Now that’s a true experience.

Speaking from professional experience in my day job, as cultural institutions seek to find new ways to engage new audiences and tell deeper stories about their brand, destination, or heritage, the provision of unique culinary experiences tends to be at the top of most must-do lists.

The popularity of Culinary tourism isn’t new whatsoever, but its growth in the past decade alone is not to be ignored. Food and drink, as an exploratory experience satisfies us as much psychologically as it does physically. And the ability to build stories around culinary experiences truly helps to define a place, hence the phrase “taste of place.”

And when that place is close to the majority of your visitor’s homes, sometimes that taste, the preparation and the stories behind it from growing and producing to the socio-economic effects, can be even more impactful.

This is where the beautiful Royal Botanical Gardens that fall between Hamilton and Burlington come in. Among many of the extraordinary enhancements they’ve made across the past few years (the Rock Garden’s re-vamp, the Dan Lawrie International Sculpture Garden, and new, cool programming), the advancements in their kitchens and seeking Feast On certification from the Culinary Tourism Alliance are among the best.

Feast On certification mandates that a minimum of 25% of the food and drink ingredients served in-house at an Ontario restaurant must be locally-sourced. In the case of the RBG, they’re actually hitting above that.

Food so good, it makes you look ...evil?

Again, speaking from my own professional experience, and working for a sister-cultural-organization- of theirs, pursuing the Feast On certification not only allows you to tell deeper stories about the food, enhancing your enjoyment, but also gives visitors a more fulsome experience of our regional terroir, one that hits all five senses, and gives you a richer understanding of “taste of place.”

To enjoy this culinary experience for yourself, especially as the perfection of September weather rolls in, check out their three restaurants:

Greenhouse Café Rock Garden Café

Turner Pavillion Teahouse

And for an idea of what they can do, here’s the tasting menu, by Chef Peter Mancini, that a number of my fellow Hamilton-area writers were lucky enough to experience a couple weeks ago…

Apps:

  • Cucumber & Mint Tea Sandwiches (Tea House Café)

  • Savory Scones with Beet Cured Salmon (Tea House Café)

  • Ontario Peach Flatbreads (Rock Garden Café)

  • Crispy Pickerel Sliders (Greenhouse Café)

Dinner:

Beverage - Continued bar service and dinner wine service featuring Peller Estates Chardonnay & Cabernet Merlot

First Course - Pre-set

  • Roasted RBG Tomato Gazpacho (Rock Garden Café

  • Assorted Breads & Spreads (Rock Garden Café)

Main Course

  • Duel Plate of

  • Crispy Pork Belly with assorted herbs & RBG Slaw (Rock Garden Café)

  • Balsamic Glazed Salmon on Spaghetti Squash (Greenhouse Café)

Dessert

  • Baked Butter Tart with Maple Cream (Greenhouse Café)

  • Coffee & Tea



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