What happens when chefs pair up with local farmers?—I’ll tell you, culinary magic.
It should come to no surprise really as the world’s finest cuisines are created by the hand-in-hand effort of a chef and farmer. The world’s greatest restaurants are made possible not only by the creativity and passion of the chefs but the nutrient and flavour rich produce that local farmers produce. Even L’Aperge’s Alain Passard was quoted saying, “produce is the root of it all.”
The taste you get from local and fresh produce is truly unique. There is so much care that goes into producing these products that it really stands out when cooked and combined with the right ingredients.
This past weekend, Foodlink accomplished just that with its 14th Annual culinary showcase, Taste Local Taste Fresh 2017. It was truly an explosive event for your taste buds. Surrounded by nature and farmland, each guest had the pleasure to indulge in seventeen different culinary creations with each an adventure of its own!
Every guest commenced their culinary journey by walking up on an uneven path to the lovely barn and fields at Steckle Heritage Farm to where they each picked a personalized plate made by members of Waterloo Potter’s Workshop.
Each dish was amazing and unique. There was not one dish or flavour a like; your taste palette really got a rounded experience and your stomach more that its fill, trust me.
I tried every dish in its entirety and by the end I was full—and of course I had to make room for a second helping of FourAll Ice cream because you couldn’t just have one scoop of their Maple Whiskey Bacon Brittle—yes you read that right, bacon brittle, omg.
Each dish description sounded so good that the right way to do it was just had to let my taste buds experience and learn from it all!
Food, real food, is such a beautiful thing. It’s amazing what these local farmers and chefs are doing, and it is at special events like these that you really get to see the beauty food brings us!
Food is at many times the gateway to memories and yesterday I felt so many emotions through each dish. Each “appetizer” could fit in the palm of your hand, the right serving for you just to taste every ingredient in the dish that either brought a feeling of nostalgia or created new memories.
I was taken back to my childhood days with My Sister’s Kitchen’s Carrot Ginger Soup. Its taste was so similar to my grandmother’s butternut squash soup that I felt like I was back in Peru having it at my grandmother’s dining table.
Timeless Cafe & Shantz Family Farm brought me to my recent travels to Italy with their hand rolled potato gnocchi. I had almost forgotten what fresh gnocchi tasted like and how it could make you feel like you were biting down on a cloud—a cloud of potato goodness!
Some dishes created new memories with its unique flavours. Breadbaron Sandwiches and Top Market Meat’s Goose Confit with peach compote was a stand out to me. I’ve never had goose before, let alone with a peach compote but let me tell you they complemented each other wonderfully. Such rich flavour from the locally raised and grass fed meat which was tender and savoury, perfectly complemented by the sweetness of the in-season Ontario peaches.
You definitely taste the creativity, imagination, and dedication that went not only in the creations of these dishes but in the making of the products themselves. This culinary showcase truly showed us the taste and meaning of real food.
We need more events like TLTF that gives us a gateway to see where our food really comes from and the possibilities we can create and reach by using them!
No worries if you missed the event this year—you can read all about what you missed below and of course make sure that next year, you are attending this extraordinary culinary showcase in support of the Waterloo region!
2017 Participants Food Line Up
B Elegant Catering & Local Line: Thai Khao Soi Chicken Sausage Slider with Pickled mustard green relish, Thai chili aioli, cilantro and shaved red onion on a brioche bun—Ok, you know it’s going to be good when they know to use a brioche bun. The slider was uhh-mazing! It was crunchy with a little bit of spice balanced by the sweetness of the relish and brioche bun.
Bingeman’s & Don’s produce: Preserved Lemon Pulled Chicken Waffles Slider with Elmira grape tomato jam—you’ve never had chicken and waffles like this before. First of its not the deep fried chicken you would expect but you don’t even care when the softness yet crispiness of the waffle seems to melt together with the pulled chicken and jam.
Bittesweettart & OK Egg Farm & Trussler Farms: Gluten-free “Torte” with walnut genoise, caramelized apples, maple & cardamom infused crème—what a delicate delight this was to have, everything complimented each other so nicely; the sliced caramelized apples added a firm texture to the airy crunchiness of the torte and lightness of the crème.
Borealis & Edwards Family Organics: Smoked lamb terrine with roasted tomato jam, beet pickle & collard chips—a very unique and strong dish; you could definitely taste the strong character of the terrine with its coarse and chunky pieces of lamb, well balanced with its toppings, the chips adding an extra light crunch.
Boutique Catering & Pfenning’s Organics & Colour Paradise: Local Organic Kale and field greens ‘Callaloo’ with Sweet Potato ‘Doubles’—I was so happy to see Callaloo being used! It’s a vegetable that is not very common but has amazing benefits and should definitely be brought to more people’s attention, Here, Boutique Catering’s Caribbean vibes shined through this dish with its spices in the greens.
Breadbaron Sandwiches & Top Market Meats & Gmach Produce: Goose Confit with peach compote—one of my favourites, the peach compote was perfect with the goose, adding the right amount of sweetness to the tender meat. The bread helped bring everything together and centre the flavours.
Chow & Mountainoak Cheese & Steckle Farm: Macaroni & Cheese Dumpling with jalapeno jam—if you could concentrate a flavour into a little pocket, it would be Chow. In one bite I felt like I was eating a bowl of Mac & Cheese! The cheese was of course exceptional being from Mountainoak.
FourAll Ice Cream & Eby Manor & Snyder Heritage Farms: Two ice creams featuring maple syrup and Guernsey milk: Spiced Maple Pecan and Maple Whiskey Bacon Brittle—All I can say is that Four All does it again with this amazing combination of local and very Canadian flavours. Really nothing like it, maple ice creams with bacon bits, it was like having brunch and dessert! It left many screaming for (more) ice cream—there were definitely second and third helpings for some.
Little Mushroom Catering & T & J’s Seafood: Smoked Trout with house pickled salad on garlic naan—basically what dreams are made of; the dish held a certain tartness to it which balanced perfectly with the naan.
Marbles & T & J’s Farm Fresh Oh this was truly something special. Roasted eggplant in an open wood fire, it really doesn’t get better than that. Paired up with some fresh salsa and Taco Farm Corn Chips, it gave a whole new meaning to “Mexican Fiesta.”
Martini’s & Stemmler’s: Roasted Ham & Leek Tartlet with goat cheese fondue--you could really taste the difference in the way the pig was raised and then curated because the ham was just so deliciously juicy. The goat cheese fondue added just the right touch to make this one of my favourites as well.
My Sister’s Kitchen & Stevanus Family Farm: Carrot Ginger Soup made with lentils spices, and coconut milk --I think I am going to be making all my soups with coconut milk after tasting this soup. It was amazing, such a rich soup with the lentils adding an earthy taste and the carrot adding a sweetness to the cream.
Sole & Martin’s Family Fruit Farm: Apple Crème Bruleé—it’s really hard to do a really good Crème Bruleeé, especially in barn with no actual kitchens but somehow Sole did it and it was amazing. The Crème Bruleé cracked as it should and the filling was exciting as pieces of apples were found in every bite.
Stock Exchange & Sustainable Market: Pour over broth bar (chicken & veggie), with a selection of local, seasonal added options—such rich flavour, I felt all warm inside drinking it! Goodness in one cup.
Timeless Cafe & Shantz Family Farm: Hand rolled potato gnocchi in a brown butter pumpkin puree—like eating little puffy clouds of pumpkin. The gnocchi was tender but firm and the pumpkin sauce gave it a perfect warm feeling, perfect for the upcoming fall season.
TWH Social & Weide-Lea Gardens: Smoked wild boar sausage with a pickled vegetable and mustard crunch salad—one of my favourites; I strongly believe that mustard just makes the world taste better and this was no exception. The crunchy crostini paired well with the soft sausage which its meaty flavour combined nicely with the mustard’s spice.
Wildcraft & Oakridge Acres: Black Angus beef sausage with local carrots and block three sticky sauce—Beer sticky sauce? Enough salad. The sausage was delicious and rich, the sticky sauce added a nice sweetness to it along with the side veggies
Everyone received their own Pottery Appetizer Plate – a one of a kind creation by members of the Waterloo Potter’s Workshop
The day was incredibly a success! Such great effort from all the members of the Foodlink Board and Steckle Farm. There were some definite food comas by the end.