Eating-up Stratford
Bite by Byte

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Perth County Food's Gone Viral!!

Perth County is one of the leading areas in our province when it comes to having a robust local food market, sustainable and innovative farming, and events celebrating our culinary culture. It's no wonder then that  Perth County stories are featured in no less than three videos in the recently released "Growing Good Food Ideas" online series by Sustain Ontario in partnership with Powerline Films!

Sustain Ontario is "The Alliance for Good Food and Farming" and serves as a true champion for the local, sustainable food movement in our province. Sustain Ontario has made a difference via the coordination of regional food events; activism for progressive programs that provide farmers market vouchers for those who are vulnerable to food insecurity; and political advocacy through participation in the development of Good Food Policies.

Powerline Films "specializes in progressive, grassroots video storytelling", so they were the perfect media production outfit for Sustain Ontario to partner with for their Growing Good Food Ideas project. Besides growing good food Perth County also cultivates incredible creative talent: producer/director Simon Brothers grew up in Stratford, and director/animator Luke Mistruzzi was based out of Stratford while the two of them traveled across Ontario for a couple of years shooting all of the amazing initiatives that exemplify our province's exponential progress towards a sustainable food system. 

The three videos showcasing Perth County viewed our food scene from three very different lenses. The first, "Innovative Food and Farming In Perth County" situates our region on the leading edge of technical, educational, and sustainable practices.

Nothing celebrates our local, regional and national food culture better than the Savour Stratford Perth Culinary County Festival - awarded 2010's Best Culinary Experience in Ontario. The GGFI video documents its awesomeness, expressed most aptly by Chuck Hughes, one of the celebrity chefs at last year's festival.

This year's festival - the fifth anniversary! - promises to be better than ever. Make sure to keep September 21-23 clear - the theme this year is "Celebrating Our Culinary Heritage".

Finally, on my last post about buying and painting eggs on Easter weekend at the Stratford Farmers Market I included the next video, which is about Farmers Markets throughout Perth County. I was really honoured to be quoted in the final moments of the piece and really appreciated the opportunity to be interviewed as coordinator of the Slow Food Sunday Market - an endeavor our whole community should be proud of.

The Slow Food Sunday Market is once again reclaiming Market Square this Sunday May 6! Our return to the space behind Stratford City Hall corresponds with another innovative food idea - Food Truck Eats Stratford, which will see all sorts of food trucks and pop-up restaurants congregating alongside the market!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Easter Eggs: They Taste as Good as they Look!

Every Saturday the family and I hit the Stratford Farmers Market, just as countless other Stratford families have done since it opened way back in 1855.

Last Easter weekend there was a fun kids activity at the market...

Savour Stratford partnered with the Egg Farmers of Ontario to bring Local Egg Decorating to the market!

Savour Stratford's Danielle, Christina (above on left) and Robyn brought everything you could imagine for young marketgoers to customize their own locally raised eggs: they had all kinds of dyes, paints, stick-on bits, markers, and little holders.

While my little guys created their oeuvres I set out to do some shopping. I stopped by at the always-busy stall of Zehr's Farm Products (above) and stocked up on farm-fresh eggs for our post-market brunch. 

Zehr's has all sorts of educational display materials encouraging everyone to Get Crackin' and featuring pics of their egg sorting station.

What goes better with some local eggs than some Perth County bacon?

When I got back to the egg decorating party Fisher was proudly cradling two little peeps.

Their little egg faces looked on helplessly as I made an omelette.

The only thing better than decorating eggs is eating them outside on an Easter weekend! 

Savour Stratford has partnered with Slow Food Perth County for an upcoming spring event... Slow Food's annual Foraging Session on Saturday, April 21. This year the guided foraging outing will be followed by a preserving workshop led by the lads from Caveman Crops - they're going to show everyone how to pickle the wild leeks we'll be harvesting and all participants will go home with their own jar! Go here to order tickets online - there are only 25 spots!

By the way, I'm really appreciative to have been given the opportunity to express my strong support and admiration for farmers markets all over Perth County in this recently released "Good Food Ideas" video by Sustain Ontario!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Cheap Date Night at Down the Street

"If we can't be free at least we can be cheap."
- Frank Zappa

February was a long month for Lisa and me. Both sets of our kids' grandparents were down south, and we realized how spoiled we are by their ready willingness to babysit. So... no dates.

I guess we're making up for it, because we've had a bunch of great dates lately. There was our recent St. Paddy's pub crawl that began with dinner at the Parlour. Just on Thursday we celebrated Lisa's birthday with a wonderful meal at Pazzo followed by the highly successful (and rockin'!) Peace and Love For Yeager fundraiser. But last week Lisa and I returned to the scene of our very first  date ever when we hit Down the Street for Cheap Date Night.

 It was actually a triple date as we were joined by Paul and Amanda Finkelstein (from the Screaming Avocado Cafe and Twisted Carrot Cafe respectively) and Paul's sister and brother-in-law.

The company and ambiance were so enjoyable no one was in a hurry, and the prices for food and wine were fantastic, so we ordered all three of the sharing plates.  The Vegetable Pakoras were a nice Indian nibble.

The Middle Eastern Dip plate was passed around.

We got a couple of orders of  the Taquitos.

The entire table ordered the Pulled Pork Poutine for an appetizer.

Everyone loved their entrees: Sausage Panzerotti, Asian Beef Short Ribs, and/or Linguine with Cherry Tomatoes and Asiago.

Trevor (on left), Paul's right hand man from the Screaming Avocado, also cooks at Down the Street. He'll be holding down the fort at the student run cafeteria later this month when Paul and a group of SNSS students return to Nunavut for another adventure above the Arctic Circle. I think our next date will be to Stratford Northwestern's Culinary Club Dinner on Thursday April 19. Talk about a great deal: $25 for three courses and a glass of wine, and it all goes in support of the student adventure to Cape Dorset! Seatings are between 5:30pm and 7pm, call 519-271-9740 ext. 307 for reservations!

Cheap Date Night at Down The Street has ended but they are still the best place to go out for a date... their Spring Preview Menu looks incredible and will be available Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays throughout April.