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Spotlight: Savour Stratford, Ontario


Posted by : Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite, Mon, Nov 01 2010

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The Savour Stratford Festival in late September wrapped up the events for the Perth County Culinary week and I was fortunate to attend the weekend as a guest of the Stratford Tourism Alliance.  There was so many activities to choose from, we were running from event to event on both Saturday and Sunday.

(Scotch bonnets and tomatillos)

Stratford is home to one of the oldest farmers markets in Ontario - it was established in 1855 - so I was excited to see what the Farmers and Artisan markets along the Avon river and Veterans' Drive would bring. 

(Gorgeous squash of all size, shape and colour)

They did not disappoint: gorgeous local produce, artisinal products and local organizations selling snacks, it was a foodie's dream.

(Pretty peppers)

Even the cold, wet weather did not dampen spirits and I loved the fact that they offered a "Grocery Bag Check" where you could leave your shopping whilst you enjoyed some of the other Festival events.

One of the events I was really looking forward to was the "Pass it on Cooking Demo" with chef-turned-high school-teacher, Paul Finkelstein.  Similar to Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution Flash Mob with university students, the cooking demo started with some local dance school students (bravely) performing a routine (in the rain!). 

(Perth County Breakfast as part of the Pass it on Cooking Demo)

Afterward, 10 family groups gathered around and learned how to make a Perth County Breakfast (basically a scrambled egg dish featuring fresh local produce and ingredients) from scratch.

It was wonderful watching dads and mums cooking with their kids - a great reminder that cooking can be fun and that nutritional education starts with our children.

(Chef Denis Cotter from Cafe Paradiso; Braving the cold to learn a new dish!)

Later on, we took part in Chef Denis Cotter's demonstration of a harvest stew.  Chef Cotter hails from Ireland and is the Executive Chef of Café Paradiso, a vegetarian restaurant in Cork.  He is also the author of three cookbooks and when he's not manning the kitchen at Paradiso, he also teaches cookery classes, both in Ireland and abroad.

(Harvest Vegetable Stew)

This stew was just what the doctor ordered on a chilly fall afternoon.  Using seasonal vegetables grown locally at the Stratford Central Secondary School Community Garden (isn't that a great idea?), Chef Cotter talked us through the process of making a traditional vegetarian stew. Basically the secret is cooking each vegetable separately, which makes so much sense when you think about it.  Each vegetable was cooked to perfection, not like some of those stews you probably ate as a child where some of the veg was mushy and some not cooked enough…  This, though, made my hard-core carnivore husband wonder if he might be able to live on veggies alone…

Ater lots of snacking on samples throughout the day on the Saturday, we decided that we needed a small meal to tide us over until the evening events.  We had heard on the grapevine that there were amazing fish and chips to be had at Simple Fish and Chips.  Since the weather that weekend felt remarkably like the English seaside, we couldn't go past it!

(Simple Fish and Chips)

Simple utilizes the Oceanwise program which aims to educate and empower consumers about the issues surrounding sustainable seafood.  Greens, vegetables and supplies are also "100 mile friendly".  Their cooking only used non trans-fat oils and their utensils, containers and paper are recyclable or compostable or biodegradable.  Good for us and good for the environment? What could be better?  It's also has charming marine-themed decor :-)

(Flaky fish, perfect batter and exceptional chips!)

It was fairly quiet late on a Saturday afternoon which meant we were enjoying our cod and halibut with chips pretty quickly.  The fish was tender and moist, the batter thin and crispy and the chips were rusticly cut and perfectly cooked - crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside.  A winner and one to seek out should you find yourself in Stratford. (18 Downie Street
Stratford, ON (519) 275-0400)

This annual culinary festival is definitely one to check out but there are amazing culinary happenings in Stratford year-round.  You should go.

Mardi Michels is a full-time French teacher and part-time food blogger based in Toronto.  Her blog, eat.live.travel.write  focuses on culinary adventures both near and far because she travels as often as she can!


Posted: Mon, Nov 01 2010 by Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite

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