Eating-up Stratford
Bite by Byte

Sunday, May 2, 2010

As I Love It!

Orlando: I almost die for food, and let me have it.
Duke Senior: Sit downe and feed, and welcome to our table.
(William Shakespeare, As You Like It)

I lucked-out and scored a ten dollar "tweet deal" ticket to the Stratford Festival's preview of Shakespeare's pastoral comedy As You Like It on Friday (follow "Stratfest" on Twitter to keep yourself in the loop for future deal announcements).

I didn't just like it, I loved it.

As a rare treat, the Artistic Director of the Festival (and Director of this particular production), Des McAnuff, took to the stage and informed the crowd that this was the first time the cast had performed the play in front of an audience. The most famous line from As You Like It could not describe McAnuff's commitment to theatre more appropriately: "All the world's a stage." His brilliant production had it all: wrestling (no kidding!), boisterous singing and dancing, dynamic scenery, wonderful acting, lots of laughs, and even... some food!

OK, the production was at 2pm, and I had only eaten a late breakfast, so I admit that I might have had food-on-the-brain even more than usual. But my growling stomach was teased by the sight of a giant green apple hovering above the stage in one act. In a later scene, Duke Seniors' Robin Hood-esque band of merrymakers roast a deer on stage. By the end of the production, I was on a mission to satisfy my hunger.
Fortunately, right around the corner from the Festival Theatre is a store dedicated to nothing but my personal favourite food: cheese. 

The Milky Whey Fine Cheese Shop on Ontario Street is cheese heaven. The proprietor, Liz Payne, is as knowledgeable about cheese as Des McAnuff is of theatre. When I asked her how she liked being the new Big Cheese in Stratford, she told me it was probably the perfect place to have set up shop, "It's a real foodie town".

The setting of As You Like It is Arden Forest, a mythical place composed of both French and English characteristics. Inspired, I challenged Liz to recommend a French and an English cheese to satiate my craving.
First, Liz presented me with an Applewood Smoked Cheddar with a paprika-dusted rind from Britain (pictured upper right). Delicious! Second, she let me taste a creamy French brie with truffles inside (pictured lower right). Delicieux! 

As I was enjoying my samples, a fellow entered the store asking if the "Red Dragon" was in. As Liz cut him a wedge from the newly-arrived scarlet wheel, she let me have a taste of this Welsh cheddar with mustard seed (pictured lower left). It tasted like a cheese sandwich with gorgeous dijon, so I got a piece of that too! Liz wouldn't let me leave without trying something local. I took home a piece of light-yet-flavourful C'est Bon goat's milk cheddar (pictured upper left), and my cheese feast was complete! 

A final recommendation: If you're attending a 2pm play, plan to have lunch and dinner at one of Stratford's many dining establishments. You can check them all out in the 2010 Culinary Guide, where on pages 6-7 you can read the intro by none other than The Local-Come-Lately!

1 comment:

  1. "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages."