I have some good news: I've been selected by Slow Food Canada to sit as one of Ontario's representatives at the 2012 Slow Food International Congress... in Italy! It is an extreme honour to be chosen to participate in this global forum on behalf of my province's "Good, Clean and Fair" food community. I can't wait to be around the table with other like-minded activists from around the world, talking about the relationship between our planet's future and our diverse culinary traditions, and sharing stories about some of the progressive Perth County initiatives I am proud to be involved in, like the Slow Food Sunday Market and The Local Community Food Centre.
The International Congress takes place alongside Slow Food's bi-annual Terra Madre/Salone del Gusto convention (which is pretty much the best food festival in the world!) in Turin this October. Since I joined Slow Food Perth County a few years ago I knew I wanted to attend Terra Madre some day. And I've wanted to go to Italy my whole life: I'm half Italian and have never visited the land of my famiglia. So this is really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as I journey to my ancestral (and culinary!) roots while also contributing to a world-wide movement celebrating all that is great about food!
In anticipation of my October adventures-in-food we thought it would be fitting to go to best place in Stratford for Italian cuisine: Pazzo Ristorante. Chef Yva Santini is a fellow next-generation Italian-Canadian who also sits on the Slow Food Perth County executive as our Activism lead. I'd heard a lot about her creative menus this summer so this was the perfect opportunity to see what all the buzz was about!
When I looked at the menu I realized I could just sit there all night sharing Primi (starter) plates. Yva started us off with a colourful, seasonal Caprese salad.
But the standout dish of the evening was the Burrata - sheep milk pecorino cheese hand-stretched around a centre of creamy ricotta. Traditional, local, and truly excellent - absolutely emblematic of the Slow Food philosophy.
The cold seafood salad was a summertime hit.
A lamb cannelloni Secondi was exquisite.
The roasted tomato gnocchi was simple yet clearly made with care - the hallmarks of authentic Italian cuisine.
Just to make sure we didn't miss out on anything the kitchen sent out some lovely sides. The peas with fresh cheese (seven o'clock on the pic above) took me by surprise - it was one of the best dishes we tried!
Big thanks to Chef Yva and the team at Pazzo Ristorante for providing an incredible Italian Slow Food experience right here in Stratford: the meal was truly inspiring!