Tea, Candy, Pies and Pork – oh my!


This is the final in a series of posts chronicling my culinary tour of Stratford for Foodbuzz 24×24.

After our barn lunch by Rundles, we really all just wanted to lay down on a bale of hay and snooze the afternoon away!  But intrepid food bloggers that we are, we soldiered on (such hardship!) to attend a tea tasting with Karen Hartwick of Tea Leaves Tasting Bar and Shop. Karen is a certified tea sommelier, accredited by the Specialty Tea Institute in New York. More than a tea expert, this is a rigorous designation comparable to that of a wine sommelier. And much more rare!  Karen lead a tea tasting workshop and instructed us in the art of blending her local Ontario organic herbal tea.

We tasted a number of varieties:

(image courtesy of Joel at Community Foodist)

I am not a huge tea drinker and to be honest it was hard for me to taste anything other than the spectacular meal we were still digesting!!  I did appreciate Karen’s dedication and obvious passion – it was nearly like a wine tasting!  If you are in Stratford and like tea – you should not miss out on the opportunity to visit Tea Leaves.

We then headed for Chocolate Barr’s – yes Josie, this is the part you have been waiting for and I am going to reward your patience with a recipe!

Chocolate Barr’s is a magical candy store in Stratford full of unique flavours (chocolate covered potato chips!) and beautifully packaged goods:

We got to don hairnets and have a behind the scenes tour of the tiny facility and make this:

Yup – it’s Nutty Pop – an “educated form of caramel corn”.

And here – courtesy the very generous Derek Barr himself – is the recipe so you can make this at home!  Just remember that whilst you can use any kind of raw nut, pay attention to cooking times – things like pecans cook faster than peanuts for example.



Nutty Pop

230g white sugar
140g brown sugar
90g glucose
230g raw whole almonds
230g raw mammoth pecans
60g popped popcorn
pinch salt
90g butter
90g water

In a large heavy bottom pot, mix white sugar, brown sugar, glucose, salt and water. Bring to a boil and add butter. Using a candy thermometer, cook the syrup to 260 degrees F. Add the almonds and cook the syrup to 285 degrees F. Add the pecans and cook to 300 degrees F. Fold in the popcorn carefully and pour onto a greased pan or parchment paper.

Remember to always wash away any sugar crystals that form on the side of the pot with a heat resistant brush and water. These crystals can and will cause your batch to grain off (the end product will still taste good but it will not keep well and will look dull.)


After we had made a few purchases, we headed back to Toronto, via Shakespeare’s Pies, then the Best Little Porke Shoppe.

Shakespeare’s is owned by Susie and Gerry Wagler, and sells all kinds of pies (sweet and savoury) as well as other food items including meat and dairy.

Definitely a great place to stop on your way back to Toronto – make sure you pack a cooler in your trunk!  All the pies are made from scratch and taste just like Nana used to make!

Shakespeare Pies – Susie Wagler
Tel: 519-625-1286
Email: shakespearepies@bellnet.ca

Of course a trip to Stratford would not be complete without a trip to The Best Little Pork Shoppe.  Look out for the giant pig – you literally can’t miss it!

According to their website, “from useful to funky, we carry a unique selection of collectibles in a distinctly farm animal theme. Feel free to browse, enjoy and even laugh out loud.  You are sure to find that ‘special something’ to remind you of your visit to “The Best Little Pork Shoppe”.


They also carry an impressive selection of meat and other local products.

And I came away with smoked bacon, sausages and a cooler – very thoughtful of TBLPS to sell them!

And thus ends a truly magical day.  Many thanks to The Stratford Tourism Alliance and  Spotlight Toronto for making this day possible. I will be returning to Stratford, hopefully sooner rather than later, with an empty belly and a few empty coolers in the car!

Don’t forget to enter my Calphalon Utensils giveaway!  It’s open to anyone wherever you live!!!


40 Responses to Tea, Candy, Pies and Pork – oh my!

  1. Jamie June 10, 2010 at 06:06 #

    Sometimes there is nothing at all to say but “Wow”! I want a pie and I want to visit the chocolate shop. What fun! I bet you have enough to eat for a week!

  2. penny aka jeroxie June 10, 2010 at 06:18 #

    I feel like Im there with you the whole way. Such a great experience. hmmm… tea!

  3. Chef Dennis June 10, 2010 at 06:39 #

    that nutty pop really grabbed my attention! I love Pur eh tea I have been drinking it for years, I usually get a cone of it and scrape off a piece, I love the brilliant red colour!
    What a great tour, I loved the images!

  4. Casey Angelova June 10, 2010 at 07:05 #

    I gave up all soda drinks, with the exception of tonic (who doesn’t love G & T’s during the summer), so I have been drinking a lot of teas. I usually take them with farm fresh honey, but I just love all teas, hot or cold. Another fantastic tour!

  5. Belinda @zomppa June 10, 2010 at 07:39 #

    A fantasy is to have a tea shop…can’t get any better than the Joy of Pork!

  6. Miranda June 10, 2010 at 08:10 #

    Wow. Great post. My favorite is the pork! I love bacon and sausage!

  7. Dawn@CocinaSavant June 10, 2010 at 10:44 #

    So, we’re planning on taking a trip sometime this summer to Canada (depending on how my job hunt goes), and we now definetly have to go here so that I can go to the candy store, and daniel can go to the pig store! Great job on this post, and wonderful pictures.

  8. Sandy June 10, 2010 at 12:15 #

    Oh my gosh, chocolate covered potato chips ! Really !! I want to run to the airport and hop a plane right now ! What a beautiful blog.

  9. Suzie the Foodie June 10, 2010 at 12:53 #

    Incredible post! Oh now I just have to bake a pie. Fantastic!

  10. Daydreamer Desserts June 10, 2010 at 14:35 #

    Thank you for saving the best for last… did you know I’m a very impatient person? LOL

    What a fantastic trip, I almost feel like I was there… thank you so much for sharing!

  11. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction June 10, 2010 at 16:58 #

    I’m with Josie… I LOVE the desserts. That Nutty Pop sounds soooo good.

  12. Magic of Spice June 10, 2010 at 18:02 #

    What a great post…such fun and great information, not to mention beautiful pie!

  13. The Housewife June 10, 2010 at 20:12 #

    Ooo.. I would love to try the nutty pop! Great pictures and very informative. Chocolate covered chips sound very interesting…

  14. The Cilantropist June 10, 2010 at 23:50 #

    Wow, thanks so much for sharing! The photo of everyone wearing the hairnets and along the candy assembly line took me right back to that famous episode of I Love Lucy. 🙂 Lucky for you, it sounds like you had loads of fun and didn’t even have to stuff any of those sticky treats down your shirt! Lol…

  15. Jason Phelps June 11, 2010 at 12:55 #

    Wow, what a tour!!

    I am studying to be a sommelier and am looking at tea as something I want to spend some more time with. I just bought a sample of 4 types of Oolong and need to sit down and learn how to properly steep it and teach my palate about the flavors. Good times!


    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite June 12, 2010 at 15:01 #

      It’s funny, I went to an olive oil tasting a while back and now this and it is fascinating to see how they both resembled wine tastings!

  16. Stella June 11, 2010 at 15:45 #

    Another great post about our trip. I miss the nutty pop!

  17. 5 Star Foodie June 11, 2010 at 18:35 #

    Wow, so many goodies in one post! I would love to taste the teas as I am a big tea drinker. Of course the chocolate shop sounds incredible! Thanks for the nutty pop recipe!

  18. Mhe-Lhanee Benito June 11, 2010 at 19:05 #

    Like you, aside from cooking, I enjoy doing culinary travels. You get to learn new things about food outside your kitchen and aside from your cookbooks. I bet you had real fun….

  19. Conor @ HoldtheBeef June 11, 2010 at 19:55 #

    What, no photo of you on top of the giant pig? Harrumph.

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite June 12, 2010 at 14:47 #

      See now I KNEW either you or Tami would ask for that picture!

      • Tami June 14, 2010 at 19:49 #

        Yep, you’re dead right Mardi, knowing Mr Neil was not on the outing, was wondering why you weren’t appearing with the Big Porker!!

  20. Carolyn Jung June 11, 2010 at 20:53 #

    I must say that the pork store caught my eye first (too cute!), but it’s the tea tasting that I’m really intrigued by. Just look at the hues in those cups. Glorious!

  21. Christine @ Fresh Local and Best June 13, 2010 at 14:06 #

    Oh my goodness! I would be in somuchtrouble if I were to get my hands on nutty pop! I’d be a compulsive mess.

  22. Tami June 14, 2010 at 19:51 #

    So, along with the pork products, did a piggy timer and piggy napkins make it back to Roncessvale – disappointed if the answer is no!!

  23. cat June 22, 2010 at 22:44 #

    the teas are such pretty colors!

  24. Sharyl October 6, 2010 at 13:17 #

    As someone who lived in Stratford for many years, and did NOT paratake of a lot of the culinary shops there, I have only discovered them in the past few years (mind you, I have been going to Barr’s since day one), but it really is a beautiful place to visit, or make your home. So much culture, so much to do, so much to be thankful for. Thanks for this wonderful photographic armchair travelogue.


    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite October 6, 2010 at 17:50 #

      Did you see my recent post about the Savour Stratford Festival? You should definitely check it out next year.


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