A few weeks ago Jason and I were invited on Culinary Adventure Company’s Escape the City…..Canoe and Beach Dining Adventure.
Happening Tuesday and Thursday Evenings, May to September, here’s how Culinary Adventure Company describes it:
Join us on a leisurely paddle to the beautiful Toronto Islands in a heritage freighter canoe, a replica of those used by early Canadian settlers. With a professional canoe guide, we will explore a bird sanctuary, paddle past some beautiful sailboats and yacht clubs and hear about the natural geography and evolution of the area. Watch in awe as planes take off and land from Billy Bishop Airport right above our heads! Once we hit the shore… we will feast on a gourmet dinner picnic, (no burgers and hotdogs here!) with delicious dishes featuring local Ontario products and prepared by one of Toronto’s hottest young Chefs. Relax after an amazing meal and watch the beautiful colours of the sun set over the island rivers….you will soon forget we are mere minutes away from Canada’s largest city. As darkness falls we will board our canoes and paddle back, taking in the magnificent skyline view from the water… you will see the city as you’ve never seen it before. You will leave with a full belly and incredible memories of an amazing voyage to the islands. What are you waiting for… come escape the city with us!!!
Previous paddling experience NOT required. Bathroom facilities available on the island. Strict safety guidelines followed.
On this Culinary Adventure Company outing, we were among about 10 people including our host (Chef Scott) and canoe guide. One couple was there with a gift certificate they’d received. Two people were there on their first date, a blind date (seriously awesome date idea, in my opinion). One participant was celebrating her birthday. After a brief orientation from Canoe Guide Matt we got paddling.
The heritage freighter canoe was massive. The weather was beautiful and the scenery was stunning.
Even after leading many of these, Culinary Adventure Company founder Chef Scott still enjoys the view.
One of the wonderful features of Toronto is the waterfront and Lake Ontario. We paddled by people in kayaks, sailboats, motor boats, party boats and canoes. We saw people paddleboarding (looked like fun!). We shouted greetings along the way. Our canoe guide seemed to know everyone on the water. We saw birds such as cormorants, and glided past water flowers. We sang songs. The Gilligan’s Island theme song was at the top of my mind.
The picnic was fabulous.
After Scott sent the others off to explore, him, Matt, Jay and I got to work spreading tablecloths, cutting bread and putting out food. The spread was amazing. A charcuterie plate with various meats, cheeses and cheese balls with leeks, beef tenderloin, stuffed chicken, stuffed mushrooms, smoked fish from Kalapore Springs, wild rice salad and more.
Paddling back in the dark, the city was awash in lights. A few motorboats made waves which made it more fun to me. Some of the others might have been spooked.
I wish photos would do the view justice but you’ll have to go on your own. The final one of 2013 is on September 12, leaving you two weeks to get on it.
- Bring or wear insect repellent. The bugs were biting that evening and even I finally relented to dousing with DEET. I don’t do DEET. I do citronella, essential oils and other repellants that aren’t neurotoxins.
- Even on a warm day, pack sleeves. It’s cooler by the lake and gets cooler at night. Despite the hot day I did this and was glad I did.
- Out of habit, I took my purse with me. I should have left it at home, or in the car, but wasn’t thinking. Leave stuff like that behind. If you need to take something, a small backpack or canvas bag will do.
Culinary Adventure Company offers a variety of food tours, classes (Jason teaches the BBQ class), day trips and more in Toronto. They’re ranked #3 of 124 activities in Toronto on Trip Advisor and received Trip Advisor’s Certificate of Excellence in 2013. Whether you’re a Toronto native, newcomer or tourist, go on at least one adventure. I’ve never been disappointed, and I’ve also learned some interesting stuff.
Full photo set here.