Chip Trucks of Almonte!

August 15, 2010

Based on a sudden population explosion of chip trucks in Almonte this spring, Peter and I decided to do a little experiment. We would eat at each and every one of them (at great risk to our health!) and decide which would be our “go-to chip truck” for the summer. We did this on the May long weekend, sorry it took me forever to post about it! There’s still time for chip truck goodness though – go and check it out! Here are our very scientific findings, in order of distance from the 417:

The Hot Potato (JR’s parking lot, near Ottawa and Industrial)

The side of this new’n’shiny chip wagon says “Not your ordinary chip truck”… so expectations were high! Fortunately the friendly fellas working in this truck lived up to them. The chips here are good, although I find them a little light in colour (that seems to be how people like them in this part of the world though.) Peter loves the poutine, and most importantly, THE CHICKEN BURGERS ARE AWESOME!! They bread and fry a flattened breast of chicken, and it is sooooo tasty. Served with tomato, lettuce and mayo, I could eat these every day. If I was a hollow-legged teenager again.  Bonus points for the picnic tables, umbrellas and the nice and clean and bright truck. 5 stars out of 5!!

 

Willy’s Wagon (Formerly Nan’s) Near corner of Ottawa and Martin

Willy's Wagon - An Almonte classic!

Nan apparently passed the torch (or fryer?) to someone named Willy for 2010, and it seems like she passed the recipe box too. The menu is the same as it was, pretty standard chip wagon fare like hotdogs, fries and onion rings. The fries here are Peter’s favourite, but again, I find them too pale. I like mine a nice deep brown! Willy’s gets bonus points for friendly staff, easy parking, and for letting you put vinegar and salt halfway. 4 stars out of 5.

Poutine Queen (Behind the Beer Store, on High near Bridge)

This one stands out, since it is painted BRIGHT PINK! Yes, pink. Here, my favourite thing is the sweet potato fries – they are super fresh! (I saw them cut the sweet potatoes.) There was a surly customer ahead of me in line here who complained that his fries were – wait for it – TOO DARK! He said it was a sign they hadn’t cleaned their oil in months, and I told him (sort of snottily) that they had only been open for a few days. In any case – I loved finally getting me some nice dark fries! And he said he wouldn’t be back, so no worries about seeing Mr. Grumpypants again. Bonus points for marketing (pink!) and student discounts. And sweet potato fries. 4 stars out of 5.

And that was actually the end of the experiment, since my arteries couldn’t take any more. There are more wagons, one at the corner of Mill and Bridge and Mike’s in the “Wee Bee” parking lot on Ottawa St., but we were too full to carry on. So this is not a complete review, but its a start. A delicious start! Come to Almonte, have some chip truck chips!!

PS – Just so you know, I recommend trying these Almonte chip trucks, but no chip truck anywhere in the world will ever be better than Ye Olde Chip Truck chips in Kenora. You can take the girl out of Kenora….

Based on the popularity of my “10 Things to do In Kenora” post, I’ve decided to make it a series! And my adopted hometown of Almonte Ontario is next on the shopping block. (Har dee har.) So here we go!

10 THINGS TO DO IN ALMONTE ONTARIO (By a proud Almonte resident of  nearly one year!)

1. The Almonte Riverwalk

View of Almonte from the Riverwalk

The Almonte Riverwalk is actually pretty spectacular. At the top of the hill is a bench they made from an old millstone (yes, its a mill town!) In the summer there is a little ice cream shop at the end of it, a reward for your trek. (Your 2 block trek!)  Best to start at the Old Town Hall, and head down along the river, as then you have gravity on your side. There’s a boardwalk and series of bridges that lead along the various sets of falls. The water is shallow and you can see little fish and fun condos from the back. Grab a root beer float from the ice cream shop (Waterfall Delights!), then continue down Mill Street and across Almonte Street and down to the boat launch, which has a pretty great view at sunset.

2.Mill Street Shops!

If you have time, turn it into a shopping expedition! There are loads of cute shops, but check out some of my favourites:

  • Find fun vintage clothes and housewares at Vintage Wear/Ware
  • Browse books and games at the Miller’s Tale
  • Stock up on gourmet condiments and chocolates at Foodies Fine Foods
  • Blackbird and Design by Destination have uber cute gifts, notably gorgeous housewares at the former and fantastic import scarves at the latter!
  • Then run one of my favourite errands: Buy a birthday card from Robin’s Paper Thin, head over to the Groundz Cafe (Now the Palms Cafe) for a coffee and panini, and write your birthday wishes from Almonte! The post office is just across the street. Buy a fancy stamp – those always make people’s days.
  • Summer 0f 2010 Update – We now have a Creperie! Check out the Mill Street Crepe Company in Heritage Court at the bottom of Mill Street. Yummm….

3. Festivals!

North Lanark Highland Games - Almonte Fairgrounds 2009

North Lanark Highland Games - Almonte Fairgrounds 2009

Almonte takes it’s festivals pretty seriously. Really – there’s one about every two weeks. So chances are, if you’re by in peak season, there will be a festival to check out! The ones I can think of:

Surely I am missing some… They are nonstop! But this should give you a good start! Check the Calendar at missisippimills.ca before you come. Also there are ongoing events like:

And so on and so forth. The days are just packed! Check it out!

4. Take a bike ride!

Bicycle Month Sign

Bicycle Month Sign

Almonte people like to bike. Take a scenic (or challenging!) ride around the country roads – here is a handy map of some different routes that they put together during Mississippi Mills  Bicycle Month! You can check out bridges, an alvar area, a handful of cemeteries. I recommend working an iced coffee  from Equator Coffee Roasters into your route! Its on Houston drive, down the street from the Independent Grocer’s.

5. Cross country skiing at Mill of Kintail (Or hiking in summer!)

There is a network of great trails all around a beautiful creek and this old building, which was once the studio of Dr. R. Tait McKenzie, and is now a museum with his works. Its a beautiful piece of land – people get married there! There’s nowhere in Almonte (that I know of?) to rent skis, but you can rent them from Bushtukah or MEC. Then, maybe a hot chocolate at the Groundz Cafe?

6. Take a pottery class at Almonte Pottery Guild! I haven’t actually done this yet, but once I finish upholstery at My Upholstery Shop, I will! Almonte has a great community of artisans (check some of them out during the fall Crown and Pumpkin studio tour!) and there are loads of classes. This one I am excited about, because I find pottery to be pretty much like therapy – its so relaxing. You could also try jewelry classes from Kehla Design or fine woodworking at the Rosewood Studio.

7. Saturday Morning – Breakfast and a Farmer’s Market

If you can make it out early enough, the third Saturday of every month, the Almonte Legion hosts an egg and bacon breakfast for $5. It is pretty much the best deal around! You get eggs, bacon AND sausage, pancakes, homefries, and coffee and juice! They put a sign out front on the Friday before, or I guess you could call them to make sure that its running. : )  It runs from 8-11AM usually. More importantly, every Saturday morning during the summer in the library parking lot, there is a small but spectacular Almonte Farmer’s Market! Check it out for delicious baked goods, local produce, meat and eggs, and bedding plants and cut flowers. It is my new favourite farmer’s market.

8. Lunch at the Barley Mow Pub during High Water

This is one of my favourite places to bring visitors, just because it has a great view and a very relaxed atmosphere. The serve brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, and it is pretty good! Also there is loads of patio space in the summer, so lots of room to while away a summer evening with a pint. More importantly, if you come in the spring, the water rushes past the windows in the hall where you walk to the back room, and it makes you feel like you’re in a boat heading upstream. Its a very cool location! And last time I was there the waitresses were super nice.

9. Visit a SugarBush! And Pakenham!

There are several sugar bushes around Almonte (did you know Lanark County is the Maple Syrup Capital of Ontario? It IS!) but the closest one is Fulton’s Pancake House. Its actually closer to Pakenham, but hey, we’re amalgamated now! They are open all year, and have pancake breakfasts throughout the winter. The day we went, there was live music, which was fun to eat pancakes to. There’s a gift shop, a maple taffy stand and sleigh rides. All the maple goodness!

While you are in Pakenham, stroll over the 5 span bridge (one of Lanark’s Seven Wonders!) and go to the General Store. I have also heard great things about the Copper Kettle, which is a little restaurant run by a Hungarian (I think) couple. Call ahead, but it sounds pretty amazing. The same friends also run Riverbend Campground in Pakenham if you want a scenic place to pitch your tent (or RV?). Play a round of horseshoes on the banks of the Mississippi!

10. Play in Blakeney falls

Probably you won’t want to play in the falls when it looks like this, but in the summer, its very fun to hop along the rocks and try not to soak yourself. There is a short trail and some bridges, as well as a grassy picnic area. To get to the falls from Almonte, you take Martin Street West to Blakeney Road (South).

Well that should give you a start on getting to know my little town! I hope you like it as much as I do.

Today I am trying to finish some web projects so I can get back to making things. Here is my new favourite coffeeshop on a springish winters day!

The art on the wall (which rotates! yes, its a coffee shop/gallery!) is by Rosemary Leach. I like the one with the ice cream scoop and the one with the espresso machine.

Also, I am nominating a new song of the week! As always, its not actually that new, but I love it the more I listen to it. The whole album is pretty great, actually. Check it out! TV On the Radio seems to be one of those genre-defying bands, but they have lots of soul. In the figurative sense I mean, more than the genre. Ahem. Just listen to it!!

TV On The Radio – Love Dog

Via the Hype Machine / my friend Tarah, and then via We All Want Someone To Shout For. Thanks, peeps!

bus sweet bus

January 29, 2009

And now for something completely unrelated:

So I have been working at Gabriel Mackinnon, a lighting design firm in the market for almost a month now. Living in the lovely town of Almonte, working in the very hip neighbourhood of the Byward Market, around 60 km (!) away, and a city-wide bus strike combined to make it take 2 hours to get to work on a bad day. And then I still had to get home! Luckily I dig this job, so it has been totally worth it, but my life just got massively more pleasant. This week I started taking the bus! And it is glorious.  Thom Transport operates a commuter bus that runs from Pakenham to Almonte to Carleton Place to downtown, and then does the reverse at the end of the day. Instead of spending an hour in traffic cursing the gods, I get to SLEEP! Glorious sleep in Greyhound-type comfort. And I can have a little nap on the way home and be all refreshed and home in time for dinner. The lights don’t even work, so I don’t have to feel guilty about not working on the way. Everything is coming up Milhouse!

I’m done now, I just wanted to share my basking. Bask, bask, bask. OK, back to coding. Remember – I’m still a web designer! Designer of all trades, OUT!

Its Almonte in the winter!

I took this picture on the way back from dropping Peter off this morning. The whole downtown of Almonte is covered in frost – so pretty. And cold: -24 with the wind chill this morning! Gross. Worth it though. ANYhoo!

This recipe is always a hit. Basically because you can wrap anything in bacon and people will devour it. A Kenora holiday favourite! Remind me to get some stretchy-waistband pants before I go home this year.

This recipe is from the Pellatt Community Cookbook, circa 2002. I am getting some good mileage out of this cookbook.

Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts

  • 3/4 c. Ketchup
  • 1/4 c. Orange Juice
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 lb. Bacon
  • 2 tins Water Chestnuts (whole)
  • 2 T Soya Sauce
  1. Cut bacon strips in half or thirds. Wrap around water chestnuts and secure with toothpick.
  2. Place on cookie sheet and bake in 350 degree F oven until bacon is done, not crispy.
  3. Boil the ketchup, OJ, sugar and soya sauce until sugar is dissolved.
  4. Place bacon wraps in casserole dish, cover with sauce. Bake at 300 degrees F for around an hour. (Until sauce is well boiled)

Serve with copious amounts of red wine to keep your blood thin enough to get through your arteries. : ) ENJOY!