This past weekend I had a chance to be part of Taste Real’s 13th annual Local Food Fest at the Ignatius Jesuit Centre in Guelph. I spent the whole day outside meeting local vendors, participating in workshops and indulging in some of the best tastes the Guelph region had to offer!
It was such a great and interactive event to attend and I am already looking forward to next year’s. In the meantime, here’s a little recap of the day in case you missed out on this amazing event.
It was a rainy morning so I put on my rain boots and grabbed my bright yellow umbrella and my trusty Sassy Tomato Backpack and I was out the door! A little rain wasn’t going to stop me or the event from happening.
I was happy to see the big white tents as I pulled up into the parking lot. As I walked up the stairs to the entrance, I could hear the bustling of vendors setting up the last minute details of their booths as well as the first band of the day starting to test some of their sounds.
My first stop of the day was at The SEED. I spent some time here learning about this amazing mighty organization whose mission is to deliver community programs and advocates to address the causes and effects of food insecurity. It was also a nice treat to find that they were sampling some of their own-grown cherry tomatoes and strawberries!
I then stopped by The Julien Project, Ignatious Farm, and Uprooted Farm. The Julien Project was another cool organization that I learned about. They provide therapeutic gardening opportunities for people of diverse backgrounds and abilities to enable personal growth, community membership, and environmental well-being! Oh and I got some gardening tips from them as well.
At Ignatious Farm, I got pick up some groceries from strawberries to kolhrabi to leafy greens to some micro greens! The ladies at the booth were super nice, they even invited me to come out to their farm for their pick-your-own strawberries open farm season.
Lastly at Uprooted Farm, you had a chance to meet Farmer Donna who is in the process of opening her container farm!
If you haven’t heard about container farming yet then you are definitely going to love this! Container farming is a self-contained, indoor, vertical hydroponic farming system capable of producing fresh, healthy plants in any climate.
Yes, this means you can have fresh local salad all year long!
Before I could continue my tour, I spotted a good friend of mine, Ryan Goodfellow from Goodfellows Field to Fork. I derailed from my path, and ran up to meet Ryan and gave him a high five. He met me halfway with a high five and a marshmallow cookie on the other hand.
...which I gladly accepted and devoured on the spot.
Ryan had his usual spread of nutella pockets, marshmallow brownie bites, turnovers, and of course his very well-know (and delicious) sourdough bread!
After I said bye to Ryan (and reserved some bread to pick up later), I continued my tour of the Local Food Fest, stopping by Flowers to Fragrance, Jewels Under The Kilt, Appleflats Foods, Majestic Water Buffalo, and Thames River Melons where I stocked up on some rhubarb, strawberries (yes, more), and zucchini flowers!
Appleflas Foods was sampling some of their local Crabapple jelly and cocktail mixes. Jewels Under The Kilt was sampling their Canada grown nuts. If you haven’t had a chance to try her Maple Cinnamon Walnuts, you my friend are missing out on life!
They taste like heaven, if you could taste heaven I think that's what they would taste like!
There were definitely some notable and memorable vendors that are worth checking out and supporting!
After having more than my fill of local samples, I had to take a break then because the workshops were about to start! (and trust me you didn't want to miss out on these awesome 45minute sessions).
All the hands on workshops were sponsored by the Minga Skill Building Hub. There were a total of 8 workshops and 2 demos. The workshops ran at 3 times, 12:30, 1:30, and 2:30 so you had to pick and choose which top 3 your wanted to attend!
It was a tough choice but I was able to narrow it down to the Fermenting, Oyster Mushroom Growing, and Sausage Making workshops.
I ended up only attending two, the Fermenting workshop where I made own sauerkraut and the mushroom workshop where I created my “mushrooms starter” to grow oyster mushrooms!
It was great meeting the person behind Green Table Foods (GTF)! Josh Whitehead is the CEO and founder of GTF and he has been fermenting for over 25 years. He took us some very basic fermentation 101 and walked us through fermenting our own cabbage into sauerkraut. The most important thing he told us to remember was “2%”. Two percent is the ratio that you want your cabbage to your salt to be. The second tip was to use Himalayan salt instead of just sea salt or kosher salt.
One thing was clear though, do not use any type of iodized salt!
After we cut our cabbage in thin strips, we added the salt and mixed it until the cabbage grew soft and released its juices. Then we used a funnel to stuff our jars with our cabbage, squishing it down so that the cabbage would be fully covered by the salt and water mixture.
To finish off, we covered the sauerkraut with a couple of maple leaves. A very neat idea by Josh. If you ever want to gift some homemade sauerkraut then using some maples leaves will definitely impress!
Oyster Mushroom Workshop
This was pretty cool. Mushrooms are one of my favourite things to eat and they are just such an interesting living organism. In the wild, mushrooms tend to grow in moist and damp areas. When creating an artificial environment, this is kind of the idea you want to keep in mind. We used damp hay/straw and some mushroom spawn in a plastic bag to create a moist “home” for our mushrooms.
First we filled our plastic bag with the damp hay/straw David Fields (instructor and Organic Garden Master) had provided. We all made sure to pack it in really tightly, then add the spawn on top and then fill it with some more hay.
Then as a last step, we were instructed to strap it down with some elastic bands and poke some holes in the bag. This is where the mushrooms would sprout out and grow!
Obviously growing mushrooms would take a like more time so we all left home with our oyster mushroom nest to take care of for about 2 months until it is finally ready to flush.
After the workshops, it was time for lunch.
For lunch there were a variety of options to suit any and all cravings and tastes. You had the Nomad Chef serving up some really out of this world things like Wild Boar and Caramelized Brie Sandwiches.
If you weren’t too hungry and tight on a budget, then the Cutting Board Sandwich & Co. was the place to be. They had $1 Porchetta sliders with a garlic aioli. Yes, you read that right one dollar.
I might of had a couple...and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one. They were too good to just have one!
They were also serving up some strawberry milkshakes, using local Ontario strawberries so you knew your shake was going to taste extra good.
Moving down a booth, your sense were overwhelmed with Indian spices as you approached the Krisha Cooking School stall. They were there serving up some Chana Masala and Coconut Chicken Curry with some naan bread.
Then to their side, Park Deli and Grocery, Borealis Grille and Bar, The Wooly Pub and Miijidaa Café and Bistro were serving up some pulled chicken and vegetarian sandwiches.
Laza Food Beverages & Co. had some authentic Eritrean / Ethiopian cuisine along with their assortment of teas.
And if you wanted to venture to more Italian territory, The Bread Bar had hauled over their portable wood fired oven to cook some seriously dangerous delicious-melt-in-your-mouth looking pizzas. The Classic Margherita was the way to go if you were to ask me.
NUDL Artisan Pasta was also there where you could pick up some fresh pasta to take home!
And of course after lunch, when you craved something sweet, Mapleton’s Organic was there scooping out some serious ice cream scoops!
I went very classic and indulged in some chocolate and vanilla, but of course they had a bunch of flavours to choose from!
There were also some local breweries and cideries in attendance like Elora Brewing Co. Wellington Brewery, Royal City Brew, and Heartwood Farm and Cidery to clench all types of thirsts throughout the day.
And if you just wanted some water, there were reusable cups available to purchase and you could just refill your water all day! Eco-friendly, I loved it!
Though the weather could have been better, it was nice to see people still come out and enjoy this amazing and well organized event by Taste Real. There was always something to do, someone to talk to, or something to eat!
From having some cherry tomatoes and strawberries from The Seed, indulging in some marshmallow brownie bites from Goodfellow’s Field To Fork to homemade Indian curry for lunch to some real dairy ice cream from Mapleton’s Organic for dessert, I sure had my fill of local tastes for the day.
I went home with lots of local goodies and new found knowledge as well as my sauerkraut jar and my mushroom “starter.” I think this was my favourite part of the event. I didn’t just get to experience local but i got the chance to take a piece of it home.
I am excited to watch my sauerkraut fully ferment and to see my oyster mushrooms grow! So follow my Instagram @thesassyytomato to keep tabs on my journey with them.
Remember, if you did miss out on the event this year, there is always next! You can always check out a list of all the vendors, exhibitors, and organizations that were part of the event on taste real’s website.
Just follow this link: https://www.wellington.ca/en/business/tr-localfoodfest.aspx
Until next time!