WRAP-UP: Waterloo Region Food & Drink Show, 2014

3 May

IMG_20140426_153745Let’s get the obvious out of the way: the annual Waterloo Region Food & Drink Show was, in our estimation, a huge success. We’ve attended our fair share of food festivals and the show organizers managed to avoid the pitfalls which detract from the experience such as: poor lighting, over-powering music, a lack of interesting vendors, or poor organization of space.

The first thing that we loved was that the majority of the vendors were local.  It gets a bit boring to see the same vendors over and over on the food show circuit and there is clearly a buzzing food scene in Waterloo Region. Lesson: EXPLORE SOUTHERN ONTARIO!

With admission, guests received a souvenir tasting glass.  Guests received a variety of goodie bags dependent on where they purchased their tickets. Tokens to purchase samples were $1.00 each and most samples cost a reasonable 2-3 tokens. Cooking and tasting seminars cost 2 tokens per person. In our experience, this was great value for your money.

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The show was spread across two floors which left ample room for enjoying your samples and talking with vendors without elbowing your way through crowds. We noticed that the organizers seemed to have thought of everything including stations to wash out your glasses between samples. The live music (smooth jazz standards performed by the Tim Moher Jazz Group**) was a sophisticated, unobtrusive backdrop.  Note to other food festivals: blaring, generic rock music makes it difficult/impossible to talk with vendors or fellow patrons.

Down to our favourites:

Victoria Street Market: For a mere 3 tokens, we got to try a HUGE plate of cured meats: lachsschinken (German prosciutto), gypsy salami, and manitoba sausage. The manitoba sausage was advertised as the first meat with omega 3s – super delicious and healthy for you! We left with a rucksack filled with cured meats.

Waterloo Brewing Company: We love WBC but almost walked by this booth because it’s our rule at food festivals to try new products from unknown vendors. BUT, then we saw that their tasting menu included a brand new summer treat: the grapefruit RADLER. Traditionally made with lemonade, this beer-based mixed drink is the perfect thirst quencher on a hot summer day … if we ever get there.

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Chef Scotty Cooks, Gourmet Food Truck: To wrap things up, we wanted to try something from the food trucks. Chef Scotty offered the most intriguing choices and we couldn’t turn down his crazy triple fusion dish: Butter Chicken Gnocchi Poutine. The dumplings were tender and pilllow-y. The spices of the Butter Chicken warmed our tummies on the unseasonably cold day. We will be stalking Chef Scotty’s movements wherever he roams … we want to taste more of the love!

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Honourable mention: FREE MUSSELS, provided by Prince Edward Aqua Farms

A thoroughly excellent show. What more is there to say other than we were impressed and will be back again next year. Definitely.

** Tim Moher was a local elementary school teacher and now rocks out for a living.

Thanks to Dana Demers at Grand River Shows for making this review possible!

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