Perth County is pork country. Every June Stratford is host to the annual Ontario Pork Congress, which isn't a coincidence: our surrounding countryside is home to some truly stellar pork producers.
February is "Black History Month". March is "International Women's Month". April is "Mathematics Awareness Month". May has been declared "International Civility Awareness Month".
And henceforth, here in Perth County, June will be officially acknowledged as "Pork Month".
In honour of Pork Month, I set out on the Bacon and Ale Trail last Father's Day weekend. You might have heard of the wildly popular Chocolate Trail where people get a pass that gets them treats at stops along a self-guided tour of Stratford's finest confectioners. Well, I'm not a sweet tooth - I'll take a tour featuring beer and some good local pork over chocolate any day!
My first stop on the trail was at Kitchen Connaisseur, where one of our area's pork producers - Theresa Ann de Wetering from de Wetering Hill Farms - was personally serving up two versions of pulled pork featuring sauces available at the store.
Bacon and Ale Trail visitors will get a bottle of Beer BBQ Sauce, and the Moroccan Sauce (on left) was full of exotic flavour, but the one that got my vote (see below) was the sweet-but-balanced Pomegranate Sauce (which I learned was created by students at the Stratford Chefs School, with some proceeds from every sale raising funds for the school!).
Looks like I wasn't the only one who enjoyed it!
Next I was off to my new favourite spot Mercer Hall, where I was able to try a thick slab of their house- cured bacon with a chocolate brown Ontario craft ale called Neustadt 10W30.
On Fathers Day Sunday morning I got to start my day with a truly wonderful creation - the Bacon and Egg Croissant from Revel Caffe.Yes, it tasted as good as it looks!
Mid-morning I stopped in to the patio at Foster's Inn and tried a charcuterie sample featuring a Pork Terrine with Garlic Scapes with a side of Tomato Chutney from Pickles, Eh! washed down with a Mill Street BreweryTankhouse Ale.
Then my four year old son Fisher took me to the pub for a Father's Day lunch at Molly Blooms. He had a Shirley Temple while I had a new Mill Street Blueberry Wit Beer (which I learned uses blueberries from a nearby producer) along with a bowl of bacony Loaded Baked Potato Soup (a perennial favourite at the annual Soups On! contest!).
If you want to travel along the Bacon and Ale Trail you can get your passes at the Stratford Tourism Alliance (47 Downie Street). $25 gets you five vouchers you can redeem at any of eleven beer n' pork lovin' locations.
And if you want to experience what promises to be the pinnacle of Pork Month, Mercer Hall is presenting Pork Tails on June 30 - they say that bacon makes everything taste better, and now that includes cocktails with bacon-infused spirits!