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!

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