Food businesses have had to get creative these past two years and, fortunately for the foodies in the region, the fun hasn’t stopped. A newly launched “Crumb Crawl” appears to be striking a chord with residents and visitors who are anxious to get out and about.
“The response has been marvelous and we’ve done very little to promote it,” said Tim Allars, co-owner of the Cheeky Chippy in Almonte. “Since it launched, we’ve had numerous customers approach our team about the Crumb Crawl and they’re so excited to collect a stamp and tell us how they plan to attack the rest of the challenge.”
The combination of local artisan food and adventure seems to be just the right pairing in this post-pandemic world.
The idea came from a mundane conversation Erin Kergen, master caramel maker and owner of Pickle & Myrrh in Merrickville, had with customers just as lockdowns were starting to ease.
“It was a Saturday morning just as businesses were starting to open under limited capacity and I had these two ladies who told me they were out on a croissant crawl,” recalled Kergen. “It wasn’t organized, just something they thought would be fun to do, to go from one community to another sampling croissants.”
The women’s enthusiasm and joy at being out on a road trip after months of lockdowns was so infectious, it sparked the germ of an idea for Kergen.
Partnering with good friend and fellow business owner Amy Rensby of C’est Tout Bakery in Smiths Falls, Kergen put together a foodie trail that takes participants on a jaunt through some of the prettiest towns in Eastern Ontario.
“We chose places that either Erin or I were very familiar with, food we really enjoyed or unique spaces,” explained Rensby. “So, if you look at the Cardinal Café in Sharbot Lake, it’s located in a beautifully renovated church.”
The two women had cards printed with a simplified map showing the route and the stops along the way. The trail meanders through Merrickville, Smiths Falls, Almonte, Perth, Sharbot Lake, Westport and Kingston and is a culinary odyssey of artisanal caramels, cheesecake, lunch bowls and gelato, fish and chips, burgers, coffee and doughnuts, and pie.
On the back of the card, there is a listing of each of the places along the route, with a short description of their offerings and room for a stamp.
The initiative launched on the May long weekend and will run until Labour Day.
“The first weekend I had eight ladies out on the patio, going, ‘Stamp my card, stamp my card!’ I think people are really excited about exploring local,” said Rensby.
Participants have until Sept. 6 to turn in their card with all eight stamps and their name to be entered to win a foodie-themed grand prize. Cards can be picked up at Pickle & Myrrh, 110 Main St. in Merrickville, or at C’est Tout Bakery, 20 Beckwith St. N, in Smiths Falls.
Over in Prescott and Russell, a similar concept is happening with the Broue and Chew Road Trip, where participants need to obtain 10 stamps from participating businesses to be eligible for gift certificate draws. The Broue and Chew route allows travellers to sample beer and cider, savour bakeries and farmers markets, and stop in at various pick-your-own berry farms and artisans shops, all while wending their way through such destinations as Vankleek Hill, Embrun and Casselman. The contest runs to Oct. 22 with more information available at https://en.prescott-russell.on.ca/discover/broue-chew_road_trip.
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