Hockley Valley Resort, located in the Hills of Headwaters, is a year-round resort destination located in the heart of some of Ontario’s most picturesque countryside, one hour from downtown Toronto. I was fortunate enough to be invited for a tour of the newly renovated facilities by the kind folks at Pilot PMR and, despite a misty, rainy day, thoroughly enjoyed discovering this new-to-me hidden gem. First opening its doors in 1985, the resort has recently undergone a $5 million transformation that includes a two-acre fruit and vegetable garden, three new restaurants and a strong commitment to local fare. The Resort is owned and operated by the Adamo family, originally from Calabria, Italy, who have been in the hospitality industry for more than 35 years, starting with a catering business in 1972.
The Resort’s transformation has taken place over the past year and half under the stewardship of President and General Manager John Paul Adamo, who was previously the resort’s Executive Chef. The 300-acre Resort features 104 luxury rooms and suites and 14 meeting rooms and is home to a championship 18-hole, Scottish links-style golf course designed by renowned Canadian golf course architect Thomas McBroom, as well as 15 scenic ski and snowboard runs for all levels, including an upper and lower freestyle terrain park.
Hockley Valley Resort’s new two-acre fruit and vegetable garden yields 15 types of herbs, six varieties each of heirloom carrots, beets, tomatoes, squash and beans, and multiple varieties of onions, lettuce, berries, peppers, corn, eggplant, cabbage and garlic.
Throughout the garden are also pear, apple, cherry and plum trees. The garden provides a constantly evolving variety of fresh fare for the resort’s restaurants – Eighty Five, Babbo and Tavola. Head Gardener Santos Bartucci is a lifelong organic grower and local resident. Local farmer David Warburton of Caledon Farms helped develop the garden’s original crop inventory. The garden supplies more than 80 per cent of the produce for the resort’s restaurants and local farmers and purveyors provide the rest of the restaurants’ locally-grown ingredients. All breads and pastas are made in-house. Hockley Valley Resort supports local farmers, producers and artisans by hosting an open-air farmers’ market every Sunday between June and October.
Rabii Jaouhari, the new executive chef at Hockley Valley Resort was educated at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Orlando, Jaouhari has worked in 5-star resorts and hotels in Germany, Poland, Czech Republic and Switzerland. Restaurant chef, Daniel Mezzolo, prior to arriving at Hockley Valley, dedicated numerous years to perfecting his passion at a number of acclaimed resort hotels, a Michelin star restaurant in Italy, and throughout the Caribbean.
Tavola | Chef’s Table
With seating for up to 14 people, Tavola offers a unique, private-dining experience with a full view of the kitchen as guests’ meals are prepared. The menu for each seating is prepared on the spot after guests are told about the day’s choices available from the garden and kitchen pantry. Guests are also offered a walk through the fruit and vegetable garden. Dinner and wine pairing starting at $125
Babbo Wine, Cheese & Tasting Bar
With both indoor and outdoor seating, the menu at Babbo changes weekly based on the resort’s local and fresh approach to food and what is in season in the resort’s extensive fruit and vegetable garden. Babbo seats 36 guests. Dinner for Two: $150
Restaurant Eighty Five Bar & Lounge
Classic meets modern Mediterranean at the new culinary hotspot, Restaurant Eighty Five. The menu maintains a strong commitment to fresh and local ingredients. Offering a variety of dishes from a seasonal lunch/lounge menu, a tapas menu serviced from the open concept food and mozzarella bar, and a rotating à la carte dinner menu, the restaurant offers a mixed-dining capacity of 180 guests. Eighty Five showcases elements of the kitchen and offers guests the chance to interact with chefs. Dinner for Two: $100
The Resort also offers the chance to eat in the gorgeous wine room…
A definite highlight for us was the tasting menu that we had the opportunity to sample. We started out in the kitchen with House-cured & Imported Cheese & Salumi and Antipasti…
Potato soup with crispy asparagus, parmigiano foam, truffle oil served with 2008 Viewpoint Estate Winery, Arneis, VQA Lake Erie North Shore, ON
Scampi bagna cauda, slow poached in olive oil & thyme served with 2010 Tawse, Gewurztraminer, Quarry Road VQA Niagara, ON
Tortelli filled with 3 years aged parmigiano cream, Pingue speck served with 2007 Le Clos Jordanne, Oaked Chardonnay, Jordan Station, ON
Fiddlehead risotto with braised fresh house sausage served with 2008 Foreign Affair, Sauvignon Blanc, VQA Niagara Peninsula, ON
Cod wrapped in Pingue prosciutto with a quenelle of rapini & garlic, braised shallots, carrot cream served with 2007 Brovia, Barbera D’Alba DOC, Italy
Suckling pig with rosemary roasted apples and Dijon mustard sauce served with 1994 Antica Sleva Di Meana, Pinot Nero, Scambia, Allerona, Italy
Melon granita, semifreddo with fizzy, limoncello foam and candied celery served with 2004 Daniel Lenko, Select Harvest Vidal, VQA Niagara, ON (and, finally!)
Pistachio crème brûlée, raspberry, apricot, orange house made truffle, orange vanilla marscapone cake with raspberry & strawberry sauce
If this was meant to tantalize my taste buds, it certainly did the trick. I am already planning when I can take Neil back to experience everything Hockley Valley has to offer. The Resort also features an 8,000 square foot European-inspired, full-service spa with 18 private treatment rooms offering a variety of spa packages and treatments to choose from including skin care, reflexology, massage therapy and men’s treatments, an outdoor saltwater pool, indoor pool, dry sauna and hot tub, as well as a squash court and a fitness room with universal weights, cardio equipment and free weights and is home to a 9-hole disc golf course. Truly, something for everyone!
793522 Mono 3rd Line, R.R. #1
Orangeville, Ontario, Canada
Tel: (519) 942-0754
Toll-Free: 1-866-HOCKLEY (462-5539)
Toronto Line: (416) 363-5490
Fax: (519) 942-8033