Tag Archives: waterloo

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.


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!


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!


REVIEW – Optimal YOU, Christine Gingerich

24 Aug

IMG_20140815_203054_hdrWe love food festivals at YYZ because it’s an opportunity to meet all sorts of food producers and experts in drink in one place. Sometimes, you don’t even get to meet them in-person because there are too many great vendors, as was the case with the #WFDS, but they come and find you anyway!

Christine Gingerich is the enthusiastic (you can literally feel her energy radiate off your web browser when your read her emails) creator of Optimal YOU. She emailed us after the show and wanted to share her self-published cookbook. A Stratford native, she now makes her home in New Hamburg, ON, which is located just outside of Waterloo. She’s a teacher, life coach and health enthusiast. Like many people who re-invent their approach to food and eating, Christine’s health-concious recipes were born out of necessity.

We love cooking at YYZ and we’re trying to be healthier so we were eager to read her book.

Organization: This book is more than recipes – Christine teaches you a whole new strategy in the kitchen. Optimal YOU has tips for essential appliances, how to stock your pantry, and create meal plans. Christine does a mini lesson on healthy ingredients for those who don’t know the difference between your Kamut and Spelt flours. Fun fact: Christine uses her own blend of “healthy flour” (Rye/Oat/Barley) and a local mill is now producing the special blend for sale in-stores. How convenient! We also like the “tips” throughout the book designed to save you time and teach you facts about the foods and dishes you’re preparing.

Tested Recipes:



Happy Hallelujah Hummus (p.60)- pretty simple, We didn’t have the dried parsley called for in the recipe so substituted with fresh. Pretty flavourful. Will add less salt* and more lemon juice next time. *Christine recommends using salted canned chickpeas and not adding any salt.

Pesto Perfection (p.61) – Christine offers an alternative to exorbitantly priced pine-nuts: hemp seeds. It tasted like regular pesto! Slathered over tomatoes, it made a delectable and satisfying lunch.

Fresh Living Salsa (p. 68) – Salsa isn’t something that needs improving necessarily. The addition of grated apples was an interesting concept but not to our taste. We do agree, however, that making your own is preferable (in terms of health and taste) to store-bought.


Frijoles Refritos

Frijoles Refritos (Refried Beans) (p. 119) – We’ve always wanted to make re-fried beans. The recipe was simple and her suggestion of using pickled hot peppers added a delightful kick. We would make this again for burritos. There’s not much left in the picture … because we ate all of it before we took a photo.

We loved her flavour combinations for the salads – great way to jazz up regular ol’ greens. Her tip for using a frozen bananas in smoothies was also a winner because it gives it a milkshake like consistency.

We wholly endorse her liberal application of beans in her recipes. Beans are underrated in terms of health and flavour. Everyone could use more beans in their diet.

We would have loved to see even more veggies/ superfoods like kale, beets and chard, which are now readily available at your local market. We can’t wait to try out the roasted butternut squash soup when they’re ready to harvest!

Conclusions: While we can’t comment on the health claims made in Optimal YOU, we do think her emphasis on using fresh produce and incorporating lots of veggies in your diet is a great idea. The variety of recipes also shows that one does not have to sacrifice flavourful and interesting food just because you’re watching what you eat.

The book is visually appealing. One of the things we look for in cookbooks is pictures – something for us to shoot for. Nearly every recipe in this book is accompanied by a vivid photo that looks good enough to eat. This book is a testament to individual enterprise! We love seeing foodies who love food share that passion with the world.

Toronto readers – take note, Optimal YOU is available at Noah’s Natural Foods (Bloor St.) and Book City (384 Danforth Ave). Go and check it out for yourself this weekend.

Waterloo Region Food & Drink, 2014

25 Apr

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Foodies rejoice! There’s a great food & drink show in Waterloo this weekend. Exhibitors include local favourites like the Great British Bake Food Truck and Caudle’s Catch Seafood (a major sponsor of the event). We also spied Rosewood Estates Winery on their list of exhibitors. Fair readers, they make MEAD. If you ever want to feel like a Tudor king/ queen, you need to get yourself some mead.

This event will also be a place of learning with scheduled talks and demonstrations from local oenophiles, chefs, and brewmasters.

Even though it looks a bit rainy this weekend, you should stop by and check this out if you can!

April 25-27, 2014

Show Hours:
Friday  5pm – 10pm

Saturday 12pm – 10pm

Sunday 12pm – 5pm

  • 19+, no children, no infants.
  • Admission: $12 per person/per day
  • Sample tokens act as the official show currency; tokens can be purchased in increments of $10 (10 tokens)