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Taste LOCAL! Taste FRESH! – Foodlink gets local food

22 Sep

Taste Local! Taste Fresh!Foodlink‘s annual Culinary Showcase and Fundraiser, has ruined us for other food festivals. It’s not that the other past food festivals we have attended have disappointed, but that Taste Local! Taste Fresh! offered such a unique, fun, and, most importantly, DELICIOUS experience.

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The setting was a pastoral dream: a heritage farm with sprawling rolling green grounds. The event paired local food producers and chefs who worked together to create 19 tasty creations that celebrate the produce and livestock grown and raised in Waterloo Region. Guests were given passports and invited to visit different booths to sample the small bites. At each table, patrons had the chance to talk to these local culinary titans. Clementine plans on trying her hand at making applesauce this fall so we made a point to pick the brain of the representative from Martin’s Family Fruit FarmInside scoop: GO GET YOUR COURTLANDS NOW. Great for pies and apple sauce.

It’s almost impossible to single out any one particular chef/producer team, since all of their creations were outstanding. Honourable mentions go to Pyrus Cafe/ Pfennings Organic Vegetables for the maple candied tempeh wrap. So crisp and flavourful.

Maple candied tempeh wrap with fresh organic kale, collards and carrots (Pyrus Cafe and Pfennings Organic Vegetables)

Maple candied tempeh wrap with fresh organic kale, collards and carrots (Pyrus Cafe and Pfennings Organic Vegetables)

The Walper Hotel and Two Crows Growery served the most creative dish. Their “Homage to the Soil,” featured  pickled carrots with pea purée and poached crab apple stuffed with pork terrine served on top of a bed of EDIBLE SOIL, which we were told consisted of charred onions and leeks. It was like nothing we’ve ever encountered. Très originale!

Edible SOIL along with pickled carrots (Walper Hotel & Two Crows Growery)

Edible SOIL along with pickled carrots (Walper Hotel & Two Crows Growery)

The Rushes Restaurant/Shantzholm Pumpkins and Wildcraft/Herrle’s Country Farm Market teams did the best job showcasing food producer’s key ingredient and serving it in an unconventional way to make it the star of the show.

Pumpkin FOUR ways (Waterloo Inn/ Rushes & Shantzholm Pumpkins)

Pumpkin FOUR ways (Waterloo Inn/ Rushes & Shantzholm Pumpkins)

The former served pumpkin four ways: pumpkin bisque on top of pumpkin spätzle, garnished with toasted pumpkin seeds and a pumpkin focaccia crouton. The bisque was filled with warm spices and crouton was so crisp and savoury. The contrasting textures of the smooth bisque and bouncy pumpkin spätzle was delightful.The latter took the corn, for which Herrle’s is renowned locally, and made sweet corn pannacotta served on top of a sumac meringue.

Sweet corn panacotta with sumac cream, duck fat, meringue & pumpkin seeds (Wildcraft & Herrle's Country Farm Market)

Sweet corn panacotta with sumac cream, duck fat, meringue & pumpkin seeds (Wildcraft & Herrle’s Country Farm Market)

Our consensus favourite dish was produced by Public Kitchen and Bar, Mountain Oak Cheese, and Colour Paradise Greenhouses and Garden Centre. Their fluffy gouda pancakes topped with thyme and brown butter custard and chamomile honey hit out taste buds in all the right places. Garnished with a pansy petal on top, it was also a feast for our eyes!

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Foodlink, the organization behind Taste Local! Taste Fresh!, has been doing this now for 11 years. They know how to elevate a food event from just good to great. First, Steckle Heritage Farm had the ultimate rustic and historic charm. It’s unbelievable that you’re just a 10 minute drive from downtown Kitchener. Also, one of our most frequent complaints is that the music at such events is too loud, drowning out all attempts at conversation. Here however, the music offered by a single acoustic guitarist who played a mixture of classic rock and Canadiana (Blue Rodeo!) was the perfect ambient soundtrack to our culinary adventure. As another lovely touch, upon arrival, each patron received a one-of-a-kind pottery appetizer plate made by local artist Vicky Lucas.

Steckle Heritage Farm

Steckle Heritage Farm

We cannot wait to see what next year’s event has to offer. We will be back with our family and friends in tow. We suggest you do the same.

In the sitcom Frasier, the title character and his brother Niles once commented that, for them, the ideal evening was a perfect meal with one minor flaw that they could pick at all night. With its lack of flaws, major or minor, Taste Local! Taste Fresh! would have left them disappointed. Bad for the Crane brothers, but great for everyone else.

Congrats, Foodlink!

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Taste LOCAL! Taste FRESH! – Foodlink’s Annual Culinary Showcase & Fundraiser

29 Aug

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Fellow gourmandes in the southwestern Ontario region, have you heard of the event “Taste Local! Taste Fresh!” ? Foodlink Waterloo Region is a grassroots nonprofit organization that promotes local food. They connect farmers with food producers, provide local food education and perform community outreach. Their goal is that more and more people have access to fresh local food.

“Taste Fresh!  Taste Local!” is Foodlink’s annual local food showcase as well as the organization’s only fundraiser. What does that mean? The event pairs local food producers and chefs who work together and come up with food creations that celebrate the bounty of our local harvest.  All the proceeds go towards promoting lovely local food.

Steckle BarnThis year, the will be held on the grounds of Kitchener’s Steckle Heritage Farm – it’s a beautiful barn which dates back to 1840.

Guests will sample the delicious creations of nineteen chef/producer teams, all while listening to live music and taking in on an historic property surrounded by the natural beauty of southern Ontario.

TLTFweb14The writers at YYZ, especially the #smugcouple, LOVE the fresh local food movement/ philosophy. One of the joys of summer is popping out to your local farmer’s market on the weekend, buying WAY too much delicious produce and then cooking up a storm all week. It’s the only way to live. That’s why we’re really looking forward to the 11th annual culinary showcase taking place at Steckle Heritage Farm on Sunday, September 14, 2014, 2-5 pm. 

For all foodies in southwestern Ontario, this event is your Woodstock!  We expect to see you all there! GTA readers, Waterloo is a mere 1h 20 min drive away. Your daily commute into Toronto is longer and way less scenic of a drive. So, no excuses!

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Tickets are on sale here, while quantities last: $70/ person or $650 for group of 10. Each ticket includes food and a hand-crafted pottery plate.

Follow this link for a full list of chefs, restaurants, food producers, and sponsors. Foodlink is also on Twitter (@FoodlinkBLBF) and Facebook, naturally.

Photos credit: Sara Geilinger.