Eating-up Stratford
Bite by Byte

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Best BBQ Ever: A Salute to Stratford at Langdon Hall

I like a good barbeque. 

I got some useful tips from Chef Ian McArthur back in June on how to grill great meat at the Game for Grillin' workshop at Turnbull & Stewart. All summer I've been biggin'-up the grilled lamb burgers Erbcroft Farm's been serving at the Slow Food Sunday Market. And then there was the time last week when Slow Food Perth County cooked a giant pig over open coals in downtown Market Square.

But last Friday evening, at the opulent country manor Langdon Hall (above) outside of Cambridge, I think I might've experienced: 

The Best BBQ Ever. 

Both for its picturesque setting...

...and its amazing food.
The incredible Salute to Stratford barbeque at Langdon Hall brought my official Spit-Roasted-Pig-Count total for the week to three (which in case anyone's keeping track brings my S-R-P-C for the past month to four since my friends James and Fiona also had a pig roast at their wedding early in August). 

Not one but two of the famously happy pigs raised by Mark Lass at Lassdale Farms (above left and right, undoubtedly from the same herd as our Pork Roast porker) were performing the last of their crispy rotations when we arrived for this magical night of open-air homage to the Stratford food universe and its constellation of culinary stars.

Langdon Hall's status as the premiere destination for fine dining and high-end accommodation in our region is partly attributable to Chef Jonathon Gushue's strong relationship with Perth County producers and artisans, several of whom were among the special 'Hosts/Hostesses' of the event along with one of Stratford's best chefs.
Antony "The Manic Organic" John of Soiled Reputation Farm (above, with martini) was helping serve up some of the gorgeous vegetable dishes Chef Gushue and his team created using his incomparable organic veggies. He grew the veg, served the dishes... and as if that wasn't enough he got up later and belted out a set of crooner classics!

Check out the sweet-savoury-salty salad (above) made from (Soiled Rep's) Baby Beets, (Soiled Rep's) Baby  Leeks and Bacon!

The Cheeses From Ruth station saw Monforte Dairy's cheese company owner Ruth Klahsen (above) cutting up selections of her finest goat and sheep milk cheeses for the sold-out patio crowd to enjoy paired with Langdon Hall's impeccable selection of VQA wines. 

My brother-in-food Mark Lass (above on left, beside Gushue protege on right) was the host with the most since (as mentioned) his farm supplied both of the whole pigs that were roasted that evening (clearly Langdon Hall is aware that Stratford is the home of the annual Ontario Pork Congress).

Chef Aaron Linley of Bijou is another good friend who was on-hand to serve-up the summer season's bounty (along with his beautiful ruby red Korean BBQ sauce [which he normally serves with duck but goes great with roast pork]). He's my favourite chef in Stratford (and if you think any differently I invite you to start your own Stratford food blog and bring it on).

The Sides At The Grill included the unspeakably indulgent Truffled Mac and Cheese and man-sized BBQ Onion Rings (above).

Just when I thought I had tasted everything one could possibly hope to taste at the Best BBQ Ever I came across The Hut where one of Gushue's henchmen was serving-up Cornmeal-Crusted Perch alongside Grilled Trout and 'Beer Can' Chicken (so damn good, we all knew was it destined for fine dining someday, right?).

The Stratford folks were seated at the best table on the whole patio (above), situated under a massive, sprawling, downright Tolkein-esque Camperdown Elm tree. [Sorry but there are way too many people in that picture to list/link. But the company was outstanding and we were all proud to represent the evening's City of Honour... by eating incredible food until we simply could eat no more].  

In fact, I was too full to try most of the offerings on the dessert table (above) although I was assured that the Chocolate and Espelette Cupcakes with Monforte Goat Cheese Icing were uniquely magnificent in their juxtaposition of sweetness with spiciness. I had to try the Caramel with Langdon Bacon Popcorn - one of those crazy combinations of things so good on their own they had to go well together!

The Langdon Hall BBQ Summer Series provided Stratford with the highest praise imaginable by showcasing the farmers, artisans and chefs that make our culinary community so special. The result was a night of eating I will always remember... I just absolutely loved every minute of it, and there's not much else even I can say.

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