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Secrets of Stratford Revealed. Press Play to See For Yourself!

Posted under #StratfordAlwaysOn on Mar 4, 2019

Think you know Stratford? Bet you don't. We've got surprises for you to discover around every corner. This is your playground and we invite you to explore and have some fun. It’s time to round up your crew and go on an adventure! Who's ready to play? #StratfordAlwaysOn


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Find yourself in a world of creativity

Posted under #StratfordAlwaysOn on Feb 14, 2019

Imagine a place that's filled with creativity of every kind - in food, drink, music, art, and design. Come meet our #nextgen chefs, craft brewers and distillers, and genius artists and curators. Find yourself in all the special experiences Stratford has to offer at any time of the year. #stratfordalwayson


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Passion for Food and Fun

Posted under #StratfordAlwaysOn on Jan 10, 2019

Stratford is passionate about the arts, and food is art. Discover our celebrated food scene and savour fine dining, grab a delicious snack, or pick-up a sweet treat. It all pairs perfectly with locally distilled and brewed beverages. Share our passion for food and fun. #stratfordalwayson


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Meet Stewart - Top 5 Stratford Series - Zany Gifts

Posted under Top 5 Stratford Series on Dec 10, 2018

Top 5 Zany Gifts!

Stewart Brittlestar Top 5 Zany Gifts Covet

Meet Stewart, better known as "Brittlestar from the Internet".  He makes people smile and lol! Come along as Stewart shares his comical shopping discoveries in Stratford.

Stewart heads to Covet where he looks for a gift for his wife. After much deliberation, he looks pretty happy with his choice and thinks his wife will be too.

Stewart Brittlestar Top 5 Zany Gifts Small-Mart

Stewart makes a visit to Small Mart to see what's new and always discovers something fun to give. He picked THIS, something he didn`t even know existed.

Stewart Brittlestar Top 5 Zany Gifts Rheo Thompson

Stewart breathes deeply as he enters Rheo Thompson Candies. Of the 150 plus varieties, Stewart`s pick is their signature mint smoothies. Oh, yes, more for him than the gift! Everyone is happy.

Stewart Brittlestar Top 5 Zany Gifts Barkery

Stewart suggests a gift from The Barkery, the healthy bakery for dogs! Good enough to eat, it`s a toss up as to who gets the biggest piece!

Stewart Brittlestar Top 5 Zany Gifts MacLeods

Stewart thinks everyone needs a kilt. He gives a gift with Scottish flair. Although a little chilly in the rear, this clever kilt towel wrap from MacLeod's Scottish Shop is a winner.

Stewart Brittlestar Top 5 Zany Gifts Rheo Thompson 2

Stewart keeps us smiling all through the holidays, but only in Stratford.


Innovation and Boundless Creativity

Posted under #StratfordAlwaysOn on Nov 30, 2018

Visit Stratford and discover a world of innovation and boundless creativity. You’ll find custom treasures to share, unexpected experiences to remember forever, and the genius of every kind of tastemaker under the sun. Come for a day, stay for the inspiration. #stratfordalwayson


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Meet Elizabeth - Top 5 Stratford Series - Guy Gifts

Posted under Top 5 Stratford Series on Nov 26, 2018

Top 5 Cool Gifts for Guys!

Elizabeth Top 5 Gifts for Guys

Meet Elizabeth. Elizabeth has a handle on what guys like raising two boys. She is the impetus behind the annual "Hops and Heels" fundraiser and keeps the community informed with an "Eye on Stratford".

Local Brews and Spirits gift pack:  My number one gift for a guy, as long as he drinks beer and liquor, would be a selection of easy drinking beers from Black Swan and Jobsite Brewing companies, and a bottle of spirits from Junction 56.  I would recommend Roadtrip or EPA from Black Swan and the 2 x 4 Cream Ale or the Wrong Nail Amber Ale from Jobsite. Both breweries offer growlers to go. Jobsite’s bright clever orange bottle mimics a construction cone! The Vodka or Gin from Junction 56 would be a safe bet for any guy, but to spice things up a bit for the holidays try the Moonshine and include their own recipe card for a Moonshine Sour – it’s delicious!

Artful Badger Top 5 Cool Gifts for Guys

Giving the man in your life quality shaving products for a gift would be personal and much appreciated. The Beard Envy Kit (for moustaches too!) for just $41 is a big seller, according to owner of The Artful Badger, Derek Reid.  If your guy is a little more adventurous, give him an Edwin Jagger Shaving Set and Stand.  You get a gorgeous safety razor, a pure badger-hair shaving brush and a matching stand with chrome plated trim. They also have a lovely line of aftershave lotion, beard balm, shave cream and cologne by Truefitt & Hill in a variety of scents. I think 1804 smells divine, however Derek says Sandalwood is the most popular. 

Socks Top 5 Cool Gifts for Guys

Give his boring sock drawer a shock of colour and whimsy with some funky dress socks! White Balmer Shoes carries a great selection of Socksmith and McGregor brands for men ranging from $10 to $18 per pair. If he has a hobby, a favourite sport, drink or pet, there are socks to match! Co-owner Pat White says he can’t keep the men’s socks stocked quick enough as they are at a great price-point for gifts. They even had cannabis, buffalo plaid, a football field, and flamingo patterned socks. Some socks are made from bamboo and others are a blend of cotton and nylon. Fill up his stocking with…well, stockings!

Stratford Golf and Country Club Top 5 Cool Gifts for Guys

If your dad, brother, uncle or son likes to golf then an afternoon at the golf simulator at the Stratford Country Club would be an awesome gift! There are two rooms, each equipped with a huge floor to ceiling screen where up to 4 people can play a round of 18 holes on a course of their choosing. You can also order food and beverages from Bogey’s lounge. The cost is $40 an hour (plus taxes), and you generally need 4 hours for 18 holes. Or you can buy a gift certificate in any amount and it can be used for any sport, service or food at the club. Give manager Rob Douglas a call to book.

Blowes Cards and Gifts Top 5 Cool Gifts for Guys

If your guy likes to cook then fire up his tastebuds with this beautiful new book called “Savour The Flavour of Stratford” by Richard Bain. Featuring a foreword from distinguished actor Colm Feore and recipes from the Stratford Festival's own executive chef Kendrick Prins, this hard cover recipe book is a must for any foodie who loves to shop and eat local. Bain's tasty read pays homage to Stratford’s culinary cornucopia by providing recipes from a number of establishments and individuals. Bon appetit! Pick it up at Blowes Cards and Gifts ($36.00).

Top 5 Cool Gifts for Guys

Top 5 Cool Gifts for Guys! Give Elizabeth's Top 5 for guys and tell us your best gift for guys.


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Meet Amanda - Top 5 Stratford Series - Local Gifts

Posted under Top 5 Stratford Series on Nov 26, 2018

Top 5 Locally Made Gifts!

Amanda Top 5 Local Gifts

Meet Amanda, owner of Stratford Blooms. She loves giving experiential gifts and supporting local entrepreneurs. Each day we’ll post one of her locally made picks.

Gin being Amanda’s spirit of choice, she picked Black Raspberry Gin from Junction 56 Distillery for a great Black Raspberry Gin Fizz. Add Tour and Tasting passes for insights into the making of spirits and the fun of tasting their latest flavours. ($24.95/375ml at Junction 56 and at LCBO) Tours are Saturdays at 11am.

Chocolate Barr's Top 5 Local Gifts

A little decadence is an important consideration when giving gifts. Amanda loves to gift Chocolate Barr’s dark chocolate creations and a selection of truffles.

Top 5 Local Gifts The Spa Near the Tracks

It’s all about the experience and when Amanda wants to pamper someone special, she chooses The Spa Near the Tracks. Their signature sugar scrub and a gift certificate for a mani and pedi always receive hugs of appreciation. 

Top 5 Local Gifts Shane Norrie Gallery

Amanda’s love of beauty and coffee influence her fourth pick – one-of-a-kind pottery mugs from Shane Norrie Contemporary gallery in Stratford. Known for his stunning contemporary creations and curated fine art, hand-thrown mugs are an accessible way to incorporate beauty into daily life. Even the coffee tastes better!

Top 5 Local Gifts Keystone Alley

Eating out in Stratford is always a welcome gift. Amanda picks up Kale chips and Hippie Bowl Tahini-Tamari dressing from Keystone Alley along with a gift certificate. Another rockin' winner! 

Top 5 Local Gifts

Enjoy Amanda's local Stratford choices. What are your local faves?


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Meet Alex - Top 5 Stratford Series - Host Gifts

Posted under Top 5 Stratford Series on Nov 16, 2018

Top 5 Host Gifts that are better than wine!

Alex in Fanfare Books buying a host gift

Meet Alex, Owner Operator of The Farm Juice Co. producing small batch organic cold-pressed juices. Alex and her partner, Ryan often host guests and believe the simplest ingredients prepared and presented well are always the most impressive. When entertaining Alex always tries to demonstrate that healthy eating can be beautiful, fun and delicious. Here are her Top 5 gifts for hosts that will elevate their next gathering. When they decided to leave Toronto, they chose Stratford, a smaller community with an interesting food scene. They feel so grateful to have made it our home. They are passionate about supporting local businesses and are honoured to be a part of this vibrant community. Based on the belief that food is about community, health and sustainability Alex sells her product at like-minded Stratford businesses including revel, Edisons, The Green Hair Spa, The Yoga Chapple.

If your hosts have a baby or child I would absolutely recommend Miss Moon; Wise Words from a Dog Governess. This book is written and illustrated by Stratford resident Janet Hill and imparts twenty important lessons we all (furry or not) should learn. It is special to me with a new baby and several four-legged pets. If no babes are in the house you can never go wrong gifting a gorgeous cook book from Fanfare Books. I am currently savouring Ship to Shore by the late John Bil. Good cook books strike the perfect balance of inspiring recipes, mouth watering pictures and educating the reader.

Alex's Top 5 Host Gifts Syrup Bottle from Distill Gallery

Distill has a gorgeous collection of well-crafted Canadian designs. Their small curated selection of ceramics, prints and fabrics always make it difficult for me to choose my favourite. This season I would gift the one-of-a-kind Marianne Chenard Syrup Bottle. It is the perfect functional piece to add a Canadiana feel to your brunch table. Pair it with a tin of local maple syrup. Sweet!

Chemex coffee maker from revel Top 5 host gifts

Chemex has mastered design and function. It makes the perfect clean, rich flavourful cup of coffee and looks really sophisticated when serving coffee to others. Complete the package with a bag of revel’s direct trade coffee ground for the Chemex and a box of filters ensuring the gift is easy to use for your host.

Milky Whey gift Alex's Top 5 host gifts

Stuart Arkett’s honey, preserves from Pickles Eh (dilly carrots and turnips), local cheese and Italian olives are my favs. Chances are your host appreciates good food and any foodie loves thoughtful products that will make hosting their next event or snack easier.

Tea Leaves Alex's Top 5 Host Gifts

Any of tea sommelier, Karen's selection or sampling kits are a treat to receive and fun to give. These teas literally made me reconsider tea as a pleasurable and nourishing beverage (I never drank teas before these!) Karen and staff are extremely knowledgeable and will help you find the perfect blend for your host. Ginger rooibos, peppermint or classic Canadian breakfast are my current favourites.

top 5 host gifts

Enjoy giving Alex's awesome host gifts while building fabulous friendships. What are your favourite Stratford gifts to give to hosts?


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Meet Renee - Top 5 Stratford Series - Vegan

Posted under Top 5 Stratford Series on Oct 10, 2018

Top 5 delicious vegan dishes even carnivores will love!

renee eating at the pulp fresh bar

Meet Renée. She is a local strength training, yoga and spinning instructor with her own studio. She loves good coffee, eating, being active outdoors, hiking, camping and canoeing. Eating well is a part of her healthy lifestyle. Here are Renee’s Top 5 vegan dishes bursting with flavour.

Renee loves The Pulp Fresh Bar's Inka Trail Fresh Bowl. This fresh bowl has kale, tomato, lentils, corn, avocado and red onion. The dressing is a special Peruvian sauce with heaps of cilantro - and get this... for being a “no cilantro” person, she actually loved the sauce! It is so fresh and packs lots of flavour. She may be a cilantro fan after all! You can choose to have this bowl served over rice or quinoa. Renee personally like this bowl over rice, as it is more filling that way.

planet diner burger

Renée raves "The Planet Burger (a vegan burger at Planet Diner) will knock your socks off!" You won’t believe it’s made of only plant ingredients...really. It’s “beefy”, juicy, has amazing cashew “cheeze” on it and if you get it with side of onion rings you’ll be happy, happy, happy! Don’t leave without dessert: YOU MUST order the cashew ice cream. It will amaze you! It's sooo good!

grounded bowl

Renee really loved the "Pineapple & Sweet Potato Burrito Bowl" at Grounded. It’s so flavourful, and filling thanks to the rice and black beans. The pineapple gives this bowl a sweet and refreshing flavour too! The sauce on this bowl is also amazing...she’ll be ordering this bowl again and again!

soup surreal soup bowl

At Soup Surreal Renée struggles to make just one choice...but finally decides her fall favourite is the Moroccan Tomato. It is a hearty soup with a lovely nutty flavour. This soup contains natural peanut butter, toasted pecans, tomatoes (of course) and sweet potatoes among other delicious fresh ingredients. It is important to note that this soup does include honey, so vegans who do not eat honey should choose another option.

stratford thai soup

In the fall Renee loves soups. She picked the delightful Golden Pumpkin Soup at Stratford Thai for the perfect fall lunch. There is a delicious curry spice to this soup which nicely complements the pumpkin. She adds a side of steamed veggies with peanut sauce for a more filling meal, and suggests the fresh mango salad for a lighter meal.

vegan dish collage

Enjoy Renée's Top 5 vegan dishes in Stratford, ON. Tell us your Stratford faves.


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Meet Erin - Top 5 Stratford Series - Charcuterie

Posted under Top 5 Stratford Series on Oct 8, 2018

charcuterie at keystone alley

Meet Erin. Erin McIntosh and her family are farmers working with grass-fed animals and nature to produce some of the tastiest and most nutritious meat and eggs available. Erin selected chefs and restaurants who not only support local farmers, but make almost everything in house which comes through in the flavours. Each truly offers a unique taste experience! Look for Erin every Sunday at the Slow Food Market in Stratford. Coming soon, McIntosh Farms will be opening a butcher shop in Listowel, Ontario.

Erin loves the Ploughman’s Board at Keystone Alley. Filled with the distinctive flavours of artisanal charcuterie, house-made bread, cheese, biltong and pickles, it reflects Erin's local philosophy and commitment to quality.

mercer charcuterie

Erin likes Chef Ryan's Mercer Hall twist on the traditional charcuterie board, the popular house smoked salmon. Served with C'est Bon chevre, fresh dill and seasoning, house-made rye crackers, pickled red onion and fried capers, this is a perennial favourite!

bruce charcuterie

Erin looks forward to dining The Bruce. Chef Arron's house-made charcuterie board complemented with pickles, mustard and tasty grilled bread never disappoints. It is even more delicious over good conversation with a friend in the bright welcoming setting.

revival house charcuterie

Erin enjoys an impromptu fall meet up with friends. Sharing the Antipasto Board Revival House combines the local flavours of Stratford's Monforte cheese and charcuterie with the Italian zest of marinated olives and roasted peppers.

mill stone charcuterie

"Globally inspired and locally sourced" describes the Millwright Board The Mill Stone and Erin's appreciation of the great flavours of in-house cured meat and local cheese. She loves the variety of pickles and ferments, spreads and grilled bread that complete the board.

top 5 charcuterie

Enjoy Erin's Top 5 charcuterie boards. What are your Stratford fall faves?


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Meet Pamela - Top 5 Stratford Series - Entertaining

Posted under Top 5 Stratford Series on Sep 25, 2018

pamela at stratford blooms

Meet Pamela. Vintage queen and jewellery designer, Pamela, offers her Top 5 essentials for entertaining #StratfordStyle.

Fresh flowers are a must! Pamela loves picking her own flowers to bring inside and often she will bulk them up with something special from the florist, especially if she doesn’t have something in bloom at the right time. A mix of foraged and glamourous appeals to Pamela and she can always find it at Stratford Blooms.

antique warehouse place setting

Pamela always sets her table with an eclectic mix of her favourite vintage treasures reflecting her style and personality. Vintage cloth napkins, mid-century glassware and serving-ware top her list with the best selection at one of her favourite shopping haunts, Stratford Antique Warehouse.

soda stream

Pamela’s Soda Stream better be ready to go! Also fun, locally-crafted mixes to make a variety of (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) beverages to suit everyone. Bradshaws has a really cute new Soda Stream model (turquoise, of course!) that she’s obsessed with and always the best mixes for the bar.

wills and prior candles

Tapers and beautiful, handcrafted candlesticks from Wills and Prior add ambiance to the table. Even if Pamela’s not having a formal sit-down dinner, she still likes to have them out.

slow food market purchases

Hit up the Slow Food Market to grab the tastiest, local essentials - bread from Downie Street Bakery, cheese from Monforte Dairy AND premade shortcrust from Perfect Pastry (because Pamela loves making pie in the fall but she's never made a piecrust and doesn't plan to learn anytime soon 😉)

pamela's top 5 entertaining buys

Enjoy Pamela's #StratfordStyle. What are your Stratford style faves?


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Meet Mark - Top 5 Stratford Series - Beverages

Posted under Top 5 Stratford Series on Sep 7, 2018

Black Swan 5 Favourite Stratford Things

Meet Mark, a man about town with a refined palate and always wearing a smile. Mark loves the Stratford food and drink scene, exploring the outdoors and volunteering at special events. Usually a VQA wine drinker, Mark has been exploring local craft beverages and shares his Top 5 when meeting up with friends. Try Mark’s faves in Stratford.

Mark likes an after-work break with Black Swan Brewing Co. Wild Child while talking up friends at the brewery.  It’s a sour ale in the Berliner Weisse style, a great thirst quencher and a nice transition beverage for wine drinkers looking to explore craft brews.

revel americano
Mark starts his day enjoying the simplicity of an Americano each morning at revel, sans caffeine!  You can imagine how energized he was when accidentally, he was presented with a triple strength regular Americano!

shakespeare brewing

Now it’s almost the weekend! Mark’s thinking…how about another local craft beer with dinner?  He chooses The Bumbling Bear, a blueberry wheat beer by Shakespeare Brewing Company. And, DYK they use blueberries grown just down the road from their brewery.

pazzo cosmopolitan drink
Mark meets friends for a Cosmopolitan made with Junction 56 Distillery vodka. He likes to take a little time to relish the cocktail and celebrate the weekend before ordering his favourite pizza at Pazzo Pizzeria.

Serves 1
2 ounces Junction 56 vodka
1 ounce cranberry juice cocktail
¾ ounce fresh lime juice
¾ ounce triple sec
Lime twist (for serving)

Combine vodka, cranberry juice, lime juice, and triple sec in a cocktail shaker. Fill shaker with ice, cover, and shake vigorously until outside of shaker is very cold, about 20 seconds.
Strain cocktail through a strainer or a slotted spoon into a martini glass. Garnish with lime twist.

mint julep drink distinctly tea
Still capturing the warm fall rays, Mark seeks out a welcoming patio to order a bright Matcha Mint Julep. Savouring all the health benefits of matcha, it’s a refreshing afternoon sipper, starting with matcha from Distinctly Tea.

Matcha Mint Juleps
You can shake the cocktail mixture with ice before straining it into the glasses if you want it extra cold.
Makes 2
2 teaspoons Distinctly Tea matcha
3/4 cup cool water (reduce if using crushed ice)
1/2  cup lightly packed fresh spearmint leaves ( plus a few sprigs for garnish)
2 tablespoons organic blonde cane sugar
1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2  cup bourbon whiskey

Place the matcha in a bowl, and gradually work in a tablespoon of the water drop by drop, stirring constantly, until the matcha is a smooth paste. Gradually stir in the rest of the water.
Place the mint leaves and sugar in a jar or measuring pitcher, and mash with a muddler (or the back of a wooden spoon) until the sugar is dissolved and the leaves are bruised. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice, and all of the bourbon and the matcha mixture. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve, pressing on the mint to extract all the good stuff. Taste, adding more lemon if you feel the drink needs it, then pour into two ice-filled tumblers and garnish with a few mint leaves.

stratford beverage collage
Enjoy Mark's Top 5 craft beverages. What is your Stratford #fave?


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“Stratford itself is the type of walkable wholesome town Rodgers and Hammerstein might write a musical about.”

- Amy Alipio, Associate Editor, National Geographic Traveler

Savour Stratford Culinary Guide

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