Eating-up Stratford
Bite by Byte

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Hangin' with the Homies: Soiled Reputation's CSA

In my most recent post about the phenomenal "Salute to Stratford" BBQ feast I attended at Langdon Hall I singled-out Soiled Reputation Farm's Antony "The Manic Organic" John as the host with the most: he spent half the evening serving-up incredible dishes made with the gorgeous, colourful veggies he grew at his farm, then the other half of the evening saw him wowing the crowd with his vocal stylings. The post before that one was all about the amazing Slow Food Pork Party which was held downtown alongside the Sunday Market, where Antony took a break from vending at the always-busy Soiled Reputation market stand he tends every week with his wife Tina to sing a couple of tunes. He's a singer, an artist, a lover of birds, a hater of wind turbines and...

Delivery Dude!
That's right, Antony personally delivers a special selection of incredibly fresh and flavourful food to Soiled Reputation's Community Supported Agriculture clients every week. He endearingly refers to the 40 or so households who sign up for the weekly deliveries as his "Homies". One of the regular stops he makes on his Friday delivery route is at the house of my local-food-lovin' in-laws, who look forward every week to seeing what's included in the door-side cooler drop-spot, which is always different and never disappointing. They were away this past weekend, which meant that my family got to intercept their CSA installment - right in the middle of prime-time growing season!
Little did Antony know, a Fire Monster (aka Fisher) was waiting by the cooler to ambush him. He vanquished him of one of the few charentais melons in the van - a true seasonal trophy!
Although the produce the homies get changes from week to week, one thing they can always expect is a bag with a week's worth of Soiled Reputation's fabled organic greens mix.
Antony showed Fisher the bag of heirloom tomatoes included in the delivery - our little foodie-in-training was impressed by these colourful emblems of fine summertime eating!
The entire CSA delivery was full of gorgeous food, most of which was grown at Soiled Reputation farm outside of Sebringville (just above five minutes away from where we live in Stratford). Going clockwise, we received the aforementioned melon and bag of greens, a bunch of vibrant Swiss chard, a fresh baked loaf of organic sourdough bread from Chef Neil Baxter of Rundles, the technicolour heirloom tomatoes, a bagful of astonishingly fresh shiitake mushrooms from Weth mushrooms in Goderich, and a healthy baggie of haricort vert (they're just too delicate and tender to call 'green beans').

Antony is a great cook and the CSA delivery often includes some recipes he recommends for using some of the less familiar ingredients he cultivates on his extremely diverse farm (remember I spent a day working there last year?). This time there were no recipes, which was OK because I was really into the idea of treating the CSA delivery like a Black Box Cooking challenge - that evening I created a meal featuring a little bit of absolutely everything that Antony brought us!
The fresh baked crusty bread and heirloom tomatoes were made for each other, inspiring the composition of a classic summer bruschetta. The harmonious mix of bitterness, spiciness and coolness in Soiled Reputation's gourmet greens needed no alteration or accompaniment, and were served all on their own. The trick to making Swiss chard rolls is to cut out the stems of the brightly coloured greens, blanch them for a minute in boiling hot water, and then plunge them into ice water before rolling them them up; I filled them with a creamy shiitake mushroom and haricort risotto. Finally, the Fire Monster's melon bounty, which as Antony had suggested tasted kind of like a combination between a cantaloupe and banana, was cut into wedges and served with a scoop of ice cream.

Unlike some CSAs Soiled Reputation does not require you to pay in advance for a whole year of deliveries, and clients are given the chance to customize their orders (for example by getting them either weekly or once every other Friday, or by substituting the bread or mushrooms for another preference). Whatever you choose, after experiencing last week's installment it's pretty clear that it doesn't get much better than Soiled Reputation when it comes to CSA subscriptions - it's all grown with exceptional care and hand-delivered by the man himself!

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