Destination: Stratford Canada
By Jessica Voigts
Stratford is home to Shakespeare – Canadian style, that is.
Located along the Avon River, Stratford, Canada is home to the Stratford Festival. The Stratford festival (in its 61st year in 2013!) runs from June through October, and brings both classical (including a plethora of Shakespeare) and contemporary plays to theatre-lovers from around the world. People make annual (or monthly) treks to see the plays, iconic theatre buildings, and extraordinary actors – and experience the jolliness and beauty of Stratford.
But the town is more than its famous theatre festival… Ah, Stratford, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…
Don’t miss the Shakespearean gardens (along with many other beautiful gardens) at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival – where herbs, flowers, and plants from Shakespeare’s time – and plays! – grow. Extra bonus – statue of the Bard himself, ready for you to pose alongside.
One of the symbols of Stratford, Canada is the swan. Look on the river – so beautiful, these regal birds, in both white and black. Gorgeous houses sit contentedly along the lush, green riverbanks. And, everywhere you go, you’ll see people reading Shakespeare whilst lying on the grass – perhaps boning up on it before heading inside; and picnicking pre-show. I love that.
Beautiful buildings and public art
Take your pick! They are everywhere in Stratford, Canada. And the quaint streets – and side streets – are a joy to explore. There’s nothing better than wandering for a few hours, finding a spot to grab some nourishment, and then heading off to see Shakespeare.
One of the most unusual shopping experiences in Stratford Canada can be found at Watson’s Chelsea Bazaar. Located on Ontario Street, it is packed with global goods, and plenty of dishes (one of my favorite things to buy). Don’t miss the Green Room, full of hats (and other one-of-a-kind items). If you want a fascinator like the one Princess Beatrice wore to the royal wedding, or perhaps a stylish beret, this is the place to find it (and other accessories). Be sure to stop at Bradshaw’s for kitchenware and dishes (and jewelry). Odd combination, but it works.
You can get all kinds of yummy British foods throughout Stratford Canada, and there are plenty of gourmet restaurants as well as cafes. My favorite is Let Them Eat Cake Restaurant and Dessert Café. LOVE the name! You can also find steamed hot dogs (served with mustard) at a street cart if you’re on the go, and my favorite British flavors (black currant and rhubarb) on menus (and in grocery stores). We stock up on Red River cereal at the grocery store, to take home (a hot cereal – it’s delicious). Desserts
Oh, yes. Head to Rheo Thompson for fine chocolates and candies, or to Chocolate Barr’s Candies for your chocolate fix. And, of course, you should indulge in plenty of maple products, as well as my favorite, Canadian Butter Tarts.
My granny and grampa went to Stratford Canada every summer (just as they went to the Mackinac Island Grand Hotel for the annual Jazz Festival), and always brought us back Canadian butter tarts – “No reputable bakery in Canada would fail to make butter tarts!”
In between the summer visits to Stratford, she’d make her own. Created with love (as all her cooking was), I bite into these and remember Shakespeare, a beautiful artsy town, great family memories, and, of course, my granny.
Canadian Butter Tarts
1 cup flour (I prefer Prairie Gold)
2 T softened butter
3 T cream cheese (Neufchatel is ok)
1 cup packed brown sugar (I prefer dark)
3 T melted butter
2 t cornstarch
1 T milk
1 t lemon juice
½ t nutmeg
½ cup or more chopped walnuts
Some people use chopped raisins, craisins, dried cherries, etc. I prefer walnuts.
Put all three ingredients into your food processor, blend until it comes together into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or more. When it is time, get out 2 mini muffin tins (24 total) or 1 regular muffin tin (12 total). Spray the sides with nonstick cooking spray. Divide the dough up equally, and press into the muffin tins, so that the dough is equally thick on the sides and bottom.
Beat together the filling ingredients until they come together. Divide up the chopped walnuts equally among the tarts. Top off each tart with filling, coming almost to the top.
Bake at 400 degrees for 12-20 minutes (depending on your oven). Remove from the oven, let cool a bit. Remove tarts from muffin tins, and let cool on a rack (if you can. You might end up eating them all now). Enjoy!