“Can I bring my dog here and have lunch on your patio?” I ask Bob Giffen of Giffen’s Country Market in Glen Huron, a five-generation family operation in along Ontario’s Apple Pie Trail near Georgian Bay in Canada.
“Of course,” he says. “And you can walk the trails long the pond and through the orchard too.”
This is my kind of dog-friendly place.
Giffen’s Country Market is a family-run business since 1939, and several generations of Giffens have worked this farm that’s part 130-acre orchard of Macs, Empire, Spartans, Honey Crisp (and more) and part baked goods market and lunch counter. In 1983, the family expanded their roadside stand into the country store and kitchen they have today.
They also sell apple cider both on-site and to grocery stores thanks to the invention of a portable pressing unit and wine-box style packaging that lasts up to a year unopened.
Giffen homemade apple pie, however, is the star draw at the Giffen cafe along this self-guided culinary tourism trail … and the best on the route, in my opinion.
The Apple Pie Trail, along Georgian Bay in Ontario, Canada, is about 1.5-hour drive from Toronto and focuses on apples, apples, and more apples (though not necessarily pie). Pick-your-own apple orchards are the highlight during the fall apple season.
For family fun that includes the dog, head to Clarksburg, North West of Glen Huron, and stop at Farmer’s Pantry (open until October 31). Enjoy apple picking, wagon rides, a children’s play area with goats and bunnies and Ozzie, the family dog and farm mascot. Half Burmese and half Border Collie, Ozzie is all friendly and visiting dogs need to love him – and stay leashed – to be welcome.
Not all orchards are dog friendly, though. T&K Ferri Orchard in Clarksburg, Ontario doesn’t let dogs on the property past the parking lot picnic tables. Yet, it’s an interesting stop because it’s the only orchard using the ‘spindle’ style of tree growing, common in Italy where space is tight. Trees are wrapped in bundles like tall grape vines along polls.
“We’re in the business of growing apples, not wood,” says co-owner Karen Ferri. “Smaller trees produce more new tree limbs and new limbs are more prolific producers.” So trees are shorter, narrow and laden with apples.
What else is on the Apple Pie Trail?
Businesses and sponsors who’ve added anything apple to stores or menus:
- Sweet bitter greens with apple salad at Oliver & Bonacini Café Grill in the dog-friendly Westin Trillium House hotel at Blue Mountain
- Apple Cheesecake at the Pottery restaurant in the Blue Mountain Inn
- Sweet potato gnocchi with caramelized apple at Azzurra in Collingwood, one of the original boutique restaurants in the area
- Apple Tart Dessert at Copper Blues Bar and Grill in Blue Mountain Village
Artist Bonnie Dorgelo’s jewellery and painting studio in Collingwood added silver apple pendants to the collection of silver chains with interchangeable clip-on charms and Dorgelo’s pop-art inspired apple paintings complement the larger scale scenic landscapes that make up her regular repertoire.
Even craft breweries such as Side Launch are in the on the apple theme. No, not apple beer, but a focus on the company’s second obsession: dogs.
Side Launch Brewing Company in Collingwood creates handmade apple dog biscuits made from spent grain left over from the brewing process. But the canine cookies are not always available and weren’t when I visited, so more on that soon – hopefully, a Maverick & Zeus Doggie Bites (as they’re called) taste test with my dog Victor is on the horizon …while I drink beer, of course.
In the meantime…
Why not try some homemade apple dog treats?
Special thanks to My Brown Newfies for sharing the baked apple chips for dogs recipe – slice, sprinkle with a little cinnamon, and dry at 200F one hour each side. I used a Mac for mine. Here’s what mine look like:
Did Victor eat the dried apple? No. He rarely eats anything healthy. However, I have a bag of apples to consume, so bring on the apple crumble.
Here’s my Easy Apple Crumble recipe (for people):
4-5 small to medium apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 heaping teaspoon of cinnamon
1 pinch of nutmeg
1 cup of white sugar
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup cold water
- Heat oven to 350F. Spray a glass baking dish with non-stick oil
- Layer apples in dish. Sprinkle evenly with cinnamon and pinch of nutmeg. Pour water over apples.
- Cream butter and sugar in a bowl and add flour until crumbly.
- Dab the crumbly mixture over the apples and bake for 30 minutes. Allow 10 minutes to set.