Eating-up Stratford
Bite by Byte

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Slow Food Sunday Market: The People's Choice

You might not expect the dead of Ontario winter to be a boon season for Slow Food Perth County, but this past weekend we were all over the place connecting our community with 'Good, Clean and Fair' food! In the process, we were spreading the word that the winter edition of the Slow Food Sunday Market was moving from its cozy home in the historic cellar at Anything Grows to a new venue - the soon-to-be-site of the Stratford Brewing Company!

To kick things off on Friday night the Slow Food Sunday Market sponsored the culinary showpiece at the high-profile Mayor's Gala - an oyster bar featuring  sustainable seafood from one of our most treasured market vendors, Shawn Hartwell of Simple Fish Company (above, thanks to Stratford photographer Irene Miller for the great photo from the event).  As many of you know from reading Shawn's recent heartfelt blog post, Simple's restaurant/fish market has had to close its doors due to [can I just say tragic] business woes. But you can't keep a good man down, and Shawn will continue to provide our community with Oceanwise approved fish and seafood this winter via his iconic stand at the Slow Food Sunday Market. 

Saturday saw Shawn and others from the Slow Food family (that's Mark Lass on right) serving up a truly gorgeous 'Cream of OMG Mushroom Soup' at the legendary tradition known as Soup's On. This fundraiser for the Alzheimer's Society is one of my all-time favourite annual events on the Stratford culinary calendar. Immediately, the Slow Food Market station was swarmed by a soup-loving mob, who unbelievably plowed through 35 litres of soup in less than an hour! 

As the saying goes... this wasn't my first rodeo, folks. I strategically brought along a muffin tin that could accommodate twelve of the most delicious and creative soups on offer at this massive food event! Honestly, is there anything better than attending a soup-making contest in the middle of winter?

Yes -  WINNING a soup contest in the middle of winter! That's right, even though we were out of soup for two thirds of the event, Shawn's incredibly decadent creation (featuring locally-grown Shiitake 'shrooms from Weth Mushroom farm in Goderich) took home the coveted "People's Choice" award!

After a bit of a [linguistically apt but spiritually painful] "slow" indoor start following our triumphant outdoor  season in downtown's Market Square, the Slow Food Market Committee made it our mission to get the word out about the winter market, especially its new 2012 location. We spent Friday and Saturday telling everyone within earshot at the Mayor's Gala and Soup's On about our move to the former home of Kalbfleish Motors at the corner of Erie & St. Patrick. But we also employed some mass media tactics, including a radio spot for CJCS/107.7 FM recorded by yours truly! [Is it just me or is the used-car-ad-esque background music kinda perfect for a market being held at a former Chrysler lot?] 


When Sunday finally arrived the glass showroom provided a spectacularly bright and highly visible venue for the market.

All our hard work ultimately paid off in the best way possible, with a steady stream of traffic consisting of our faithful market patrons alongside many who were attending the winter market for the very first time. The vibe was ecstatic as folks shopped for beautiful food, chatted over coffee, and enjoyed some music courtesy of our market's resident crooner Antony aka "The Singing Farmer" aka "The Manic Organic" John. 

Want to be involved in Slow Food Perth County? Start by coming out to our market and experiencing the "Good, Clean and Fair" vibe for yourself. If you want to get even more involved, please attend our Annual General Meeting at the Screaming Avocado Cafe (the alternative cafeteria located around back of Stratford Northwestern Secondary School on Forman Avenue) at 6 pm on Sunday, January 29. It's open to everyone - members and non-members alike - but make sure you bring along a dish for the potluck... and get your ingredients from the market!


  1. At Soup's On everyone wanted to know the recipe for Creamy OMG Mushroom Soup, so here it is straight from Shawn Hartwell himself:

    20 L of Creamy OMG mushroom soup

    15 lbs of local Weth's shiitake mushrooms
    5 lbs local Sterling butter
    15L local Hewitt's 35% cream
    4 L Hewitt's milk
    4 cups of local flour
    2 oz fresh or dried thyme
    1L sparkling wine VQA
    1/2 cup of salt
    1/4 cup of pepper

    Take the mushrooms and rip the stems off (and keep to make a awesome stock later). Tear apart the mushroom heads in pieces instead of slicing for a more mushroomy texture.
    Melt 4 lbs of the butter in a 30 L pot, add your pieces of yummy local mushrooms and start to cook down. After the mushrooms have softened up a little add 1 L of your favourite sparkling wine, cook down for a few minutes then add the 4 cups of flour and stir until it thickens up (which will happen quickly). Have your 35% cream opened and ready to pour in, add all the milk and cream and start to whisk. With 20 L of soup, you need to make sure you whisk hard to smooth out any lumps, add in your thyme, 1/2 cup of salt and 1/4 cup of pepper and continuously whisk near the bottom so you wont start to burn, lower heat to simmer, make sure the soup is at a smooth stage, if too thick add some more milk... if it is ready, add your last pound of butter at the end to melt slowing and stir. Serve to 2000 of your closest friends.

  2. How exciting, a new location! We'll have to come by and check it out for sure :)

    1. Looking forward to seeing you & your fam at the market sometime this winter Kristin!

  3. Wow - that was one heck of a weekend! Nice work.

    1. Cheers John, I still can't get over how active our food scene is even in the middle of January!

  4. Great opening at our new digs! (I especially loved the singer and that hot organic veg girl!)
    As Tony Bennett sings, "The Best Is Yet To Come"

    1. Wasn't that same girl at the Mayor's Gala?
      You and Tina deserve full credit for coming up with the idea to move to the Brewery & connecting us with Joe!

  5. Great article! Perfect soup for January! Perfect space for a growing market!

    1. Thanks Lindsay! Your baked goods are the market's sweet spot!

  6. Love the muffin tin tasting technique JR. bravo