Eating-up Stratford
Bite by Byte

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

This Little Piggie Went to Market: Slow Food Pork Party!

You gotta admit, Slow Food Perth County is on a bit of a roll. We pulled-off the Canadian Youth Terra Madre back in May, when kids from different areas of the province and country came together at McCully's Hill Farm to have a good time around food. Then there was the recent coup that saw the reclamation of downtown Market Square by the Slow Food Sunday Market, which just seems to get better and better every week as more and more produce keeps coming out of the ground. But this past Sunday Slow Food Perth County staged what can only be described as a truly sensational feast as the entire city was invited to the market for the annual Pork Party!! 

Did you smell something delicious wafting in the air late Saturday night? Was it smoky, or even... bacon-esque? That wasn't a barn fire on Pork Road - it was the Slow Food crew roasting a huge pig on a spit right smack dab in the middle of downtown all night long!

As it happened, on the weekend the Stacey family enjoyed a visit from my good friend Tyler and his family. Tyler (on left with "water" bottle) and I have been bros for almost twenty full years and late-night hijinks have been standard practice throughout those two decades. I couldn't have picked a better wing-man to help with the slightly twisted task of cooking a giant headless pig over open coals at midnight in the middle of Stratford's downtown, which every Saturday night turns into a somewhat chaotic Entertainment District. When I told Tyler (who was visiting Stratford for the first time) that we were going to spend the night roasting a pig he thought I was talking about  something along the lines of a farm party - he hadn't expected to be swarmed all night by downtown inebriants asking hilarious questions like "Dude, are you guys selling hotdogs?!?"

The roaster was fired-up around midnight, and although Tyler and I hung out until after 3am props need to go out to the die-hards Brendon Lyoness and Liz Mountain who stuck it out all night, turning the foil-wrapped 150 lbs. pig a quarter turn every half hour for ten hours. The pig was cooked perfectly by the time the market kicked off at 10am and Mark Lass (on the right, he raised the pig on his farm!) helped haul it over to the serving table...

...where Phil Phillips (above on left with Liz on right) picked up his knife and began expertly carving up lunch. 

The sliced pork was piled high into grill pans full of fantastic sauces including the Korean BBQ sauce donated by Bijou Restaurant, Pineapple BBQ sauce by none other than Chef Neil Baxter of Rundles and Smoked Cherry BBQ sauce by the Sunday Market's own Dave of Koert Organics. Paul Finkelstein (above, centre) helped serve-up the melt-in-your-mouth porky goodness alongside Farmer Lass and Gotta-Love-Her-She's-Still-Awake Liz.

Emily Chandler was helping people to choose from among the three types of fresh-baked bread provided by the brand new Downie Street Bakehouse and Your Local Market Co-op.

Dessert was a trio of peaches from the market's fruit vendor Bizjak Farm, sheep's milk ricotta from the market's cheese vendor Monforte Dairy, and cake by the market's stellar Lindsay's Bakery.

The whole Slow Food family was there for this annual celebration of real Perth County food! Danielle Brodhagen (above right) held down the ticket sales and Laurie Knechtel (above left) spent the afternoon doling out the spicy coleslaw donated by Shawn from Simple. Fish and Chips

Laurie was interviewed by the Beacon Herald, and I could not agree any more strongly with her comments on what the paper deemed a "succulent success":
Knechtel said the group wants to dispel the Slow Food movement's image of being a bunch of elitists eating expensive food. She said the low prices for Sunday's roast and the accessible location showed what the Slow Food movement is really about and noted that visitors loved the experience.
"The feedback we've received is that they love the food, but what they love even more is eating together as a community,"

The general feeling of community conviviality was enhanced even more by the opening-up of a big can of bluegrass yeee-haah courtesy of the Blurry Pickers.

And of course, no Slow Food Sunday Market event would be complete without a performance from our resident crooner Antony "The Singing Farmer" John (aka The Manic Organic of Soiled Reputation Farm).

Congrats on the Slow-Food-flash-mob for putting together such a great event. There is another grassroots group in Stratford that's advocating to turn Market Square into a public green space, and after Sunday I have one recommendation for that redesign: Build a permanent community cooking area because we're going to put-on this event every single year from now on! 


  1. Wow! Nice post, my friend. Beautiful job. Thank you.

  2. Your quote in the paper really said it all Laurie. What a day!

  3. Nice one Steve! thanks for the shout out!

  4. Thanks for sourcing out that killer portable pig roaster Dave! That thing worked great!