Culinary News

The Buzz: July/August 2016

The Editors
Written by The Editors

We are proud to announce that Sue Sutherland Wood has won first prize from the Periodical Writers Association of Canada for her contribution to eatdrink #53 (eatdrink.ca/sue-sutherland-wood/). “Big Girl Pantries” is a gem, as are all of Sue’s hilariously poignant essays. Find her latest contribution in “The Lighter Side” column on page 62, and check out Sue’s blog at speranzanow.com.

The first annual Colombian Gastronomy Festival will be held July 23rd from 4 pm to midnight, outside Covent Garden Market, offering authentic Colombian food with a unique flavour of Latin music and tasty cold beer.

London Rib Fest returns to Victoria Park July 28 to August 1, featuring an array of ribs, fun exhibits and rides.

David’s Bistro will be closed July 1–15 for holidays, opening Saturday July 16th at 5pm. David’s Bistro was opened in 1998 by chef/restaurateur David Chapman. The classic French bistro is a venerated downtown London culinary anchor. Chef Elvis Drennan’s new dinner menu features classic items like duck leg confit with lingonberry sauce and rosti, and herb-crusted wild boar tenderloin with grilled celeriac, red wine jus and lima beans. There is an excellent selection of wine available. www.davidsbistro.ca

Due to a small fire the Campus Hi-Fi was closed for renovation, but re-opened in early June. This Richmond Row fixture has been offering reasonably priced quintessential diner food since 1957. www.campushifi.ca

We send condolences to Chef Gino Parco and his employees at Porcino and the many other neighbouring businesses devastated by fire that recently roared through their Hyde Park plaza. We’re hoping for a speedy recovery for all.

Ogilvies Market is now open Saturdays from 9am–4pm until Thanksgiving at 1331 Hyde Park Road. The focus is on local and healthy. Find them on Facebook.

Petit Paris is proud to present The Coop Rotisserie in Covent Garden Market. The Coop is focusing on simple rotisserie chicken dinners with several sauce and side choices, made in house from as many local and whole ingredients as possible including fresh cut fries, a selection of fresh salads, daily soups, mac ‘n’ cheese and delectable desserts baked daily. There is a simple but delicious breakfast menu. Take out or dine in.

Covent Garden Market Outdoor Farmers’ Market offers fresh, local food from May to December. The vendors selling at the Farmers’ Market “grow it, raise it, bake it, or make it.” The Farmers’ Market hosts free cooking classes every Saturday outside on Rotary Square from 11am-noon. This is a unique opportunity to learn a new dish featuring products fresh from the market. In the case of inclement weather, classes will be held upstairs in the market kitchen. Field Gate Organics along with Smith Cheese are outside at the market every Saturday 10:30am–noon offering up delicious organic sliders, hot off the barbeque and topped with the cheese of the day by Smith Cheese. At the Thursday Market the expert chefs at Jill’s Table help get the local food party going with fantastic recipes and delicious samples. Thursdays 8 am–2 pm and Saturdays 8 am–1 pm

Chris’ Country Cuts is an old school butcher shop in Covent Garden Market, selling only local product, grain fed, non-anti-biotic and growth hormone free, using only one supplier for each product to ensure that the product meets its high standards. For example, all beef products are sourced from Norwich Packers, lamb is procured from a small farm just outside of Strathroy, poultry from Little Sisters Chickens of Parkhill, and turkey products from Hayter’s Farm in Dashwood. Chris has been a vendor in the market since it reopened 17 years ago. Everything is cut and processed on site. www.chriscountrycuts.com

On Sunday August 21, Ron Benner roasts corn for all at his garden installation As the Crow Flies. Part sculpture, part installation and part performance, the 10th Annual Corn Roast will feature Benner’s roving corn-roasting wagon Maiz Barbacoa. 1:00 to 4:00 pm at Wolf Sculpture Garden at Museum London. www.museumlondon.ca

Farmers’ market managers have seen a shift in purchasing patterns. Michelle Navackas, general manager of the Farmers’ & Artisans’ Market at Western Fair says “More customers are seeking out vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO and organic products. We are seeing more educated and informed shoppers.” Specialty vendors like The Village Meat Shop provide more sustainable alternatives for market shoppers. The Village Meat Shop is a retail outlet for premium, drug and hormone-free local meats and other quality items from a network of farms which includes Metzger Meats, The Whole Pig, Lena’s Lamb, Blanbrook Bison, Everspring Farms, and Little Sisters Chicken. The Harvest Pantry is another specialty vendor, and is focused on crafting small-batch ferments, like sauerkraut, kimchi, cultured mustards, miso and kombucha. The Root Cellar Market Kitchen serves organic juice and smoothies upstairs, and downstairs retails certified organic produce and products under the banner of On The Move Organics. www.londonsfarmersmarket.ca

The restaurant at the Idlewyld Inn offers a locally-inspired menu of contemporary and traditional choices, complemented by a selection of international and local wines, and draught ales on tap. Desserts are impressive, including a chocolate fondue for two which is served with pound cake, madeleine, berries and cut fruit. The service is knowledgeable, polished and friendly. Summer BBQ in the Courtyard is back by popular demand. There is also an excellent Sunday Brunch. www.idlewyldinn.com

The refurbished and updated Restaurant Ninety One at Windermere Manor relaunched to great fanfare. Chefs Angela Murphy and Josh Blackwell and the culinary team showcase a selection of innovative seasonal dishes and tasting menus, including seared duck breast with potato soufflé, chamomile and fennel and black mushroom jus, and braised and roasted lamb with toasted oat puree, honeyed turnip, olive crème fraîche, pickled strawberry and wheat grass jus. www.restaurantninetyone.ca

The Springs on Springbank Drive continues to deliver a refined and innovative experience under the creative genius of Chef Andrew Wolwowicz, whose well-thought-out menus are crafted from local, regional and seasonal ingredients. The Harrar espresso and black pepper crusted venison loin with a dark chocolate pomegranate gastrique is a classic house signature. There is a charming outdoor patio. www.thespringsrestaurant.com

In early June, JJ’s Breakfast, Burgers and Beyond opened on  Dundas Street just east of Waterloo, . The friendly family-run diner serves all-day breakfast.

Blu Duby recently launched a new dinner menu. Think duo of duck with seared breast and braised leg, with a fresh berry, red wine balsamic vinegar and rosemary sauce with wild blueberry jelly, celeriac and sweet potato puree. www.bluduby.com

Sunfest is a non-profit community arts group dedicated to promoting cross-cultural awareness and understanding of the arts across a range of disciplines, such as music, dance and the visual arts. Victoria Park, July 7th–10th.

The 43rd edition of the Home County Music and Arts Festival is a celebration of folk-based traditions in Victoria Park. It features 30 food vendors offering a variety of cuisines. July 15th–17th.

The Pride London Festival will be held July 14–24.

Executive Chef Alfred Estephan’s Revive Kitchen officially opened in mid-June, at 222 Wellington Street. The stylish restaurant/cafe is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Offerings range from fresh baked croissants to brioche, as well as a range of breakfast entrees including delicious omelettes. Chef Ashton Gillespie’s lunch and dinner menus offer an interesting selection of locally-sourced meats, poultry and fish. Over the years, Estephan has been involved with many community initiatives and charitable organizations and intends to continue that tradition at Revive Kitchen. www.revivekitchen.ca

The new Fire Roasted Coffee Company Café in Wortley Village reopened in mid-June.

Downtown London’s annual celebration of craft beer, Forest City Beer Festival, returns on Saturday, August 13th. Over 20 brewers and Ontario cider producers will be in attendance, including local favourites Forked River and London Brewing Co-Op. Food stands and food trucks are part of the mix as well. The event is free to the public and takes place at Covent Garden Market.

Forked River Brewing Company won a Silver for Dead Parrot (red wine barrel-aged sour olde English ale with sour cherries) at this year’s Canadian Brewing Awards in the Wood and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer category.

Stratford

Revival House, in partnership with Bradshaws Kitchen Detail presents Revival House Afternoon High Tea, served on the last Sunday of the month from 3pm–5pm. The tea menu compliments house baked scones and preserves, both sweet and savoury, within the elegant setting of Revival House. Reservations are required.

Your Local Market Co-op, the Local Community Food Centre, Stratford Farmers’ Market (at the Agri-plex on Saturdays), and the Slow Food Market (on Sundays) are food hubs where chefs, farmers, artists, locals and visitors come together. Another great downtown gem is the General Store on Ontario Street that houses a sushi bar counter called Mr. Kim’s Sushi & Rolls.

We love Foster’s Inn. It is Stratford’s original heritage boutique Inn, situated in a turn-of-the-century building and located two doors from the Avon Theatre. Foster’s Inn offers nine individually-appointed guest rooms, a restaurant and a cocktail lounge. The down-to-earth restaurant focuses on great steaks and classical dishes made with local ingredients. www.fostersinn.com

Alan Mailloux and Barb McMahon’s Downie Street Bake House is the place for premium artisanal breads — high quality, hand-crafted and free of artificial additives and preservatives — and bills itself as “Really Good Bread from the Wrong Side of the Tracks.” You can find one or both owners in the shop, at the Slow Food Market in Market Square on Sundays, and on Saturdays at Western Fair Farmers’ and Artisans’ Market in London. www.goodbread.ca

Madelyn’s Diner has been in business for over 30 years and is an iconic name in Stratford. The mission statement says, “It’s not about making money … it’s about feeding the world, with good food, good service and good fun.” It has an open kitchen, friendly helpful staff with a charming 30-seat patio. www.madelynsdiner.ca

Chef Rene Delafranier is a graduate of the Stratford Chefs School and worked in many Stratford restaurants before opening the eponymous French-inspired Rene’s Bistro. Chef and his wife Margaret Masters prepare everything in-house, from breads to entrées, dressings and desserts. An in-house specialty is P.E.I mussels, offered marinière, Provençal, mouclade, Portuguese and bistro-style. Reservations begin at 4:30pm and last reservations start at 8:30pm. www.renesbistro.ca

Aaron and Bronwyn Linley introduced the chef-driven Linley’s | A Food Shop to Stratford last summer, offering catering, restaurant-style food, take-away, and a stellar selection of gourmet fare. Choose one of their set picnic menus or design a custom picnic. Chef Linley has described his cuisine as “nouveau Ontario,” using French techniques and multi-cultural influences. www.linleys.ca

Chef Robert Rose’s Canadian Grub is one of few restaurants in the country serving exclusively Canadian grown and refined products. There is a cozy sit-down area and a second kitchen with seating for twenty-nine people in the back. Rose is known for his excellent scratch soups. www.wawagrub.ca

Another great shop fighting for soup supremacy off Stratford’s Market Square is Derek Denny’s big flavoured Soup Surreal on Wellington Street, featuring a repertoire of ever-changing offerings. www.soupsurreal.com

Susie Palach’s York St. Kitchen, everyone’s favourite boutique restaurant tucked away on Erie Street, is known for its interesting sandwiches, innovative side salads and homemade desserts. Palach is celebrating her 27th year of business. www.yorkstreetkitchen.com

Love local food and great music? Join the crew at Molly Blooms. The owners of this Irish Pub are committed to providing guests with the best quality product, using fresh local ingredients whenever possible, and have just launched a new summer menu. www.mollybloomsstratford.com

Revival House is proud to continue the Stratford Summer Music (SSM) partnership with the summer concert series. The Cabaret series starts July 23rd with Patricia O’Callaghan and Robert Kortgaard’s tribute to Leonard Cohen. Later on the summer schedule will be The Sondheim Jazz Project Quintet; Carole Pope, Opera: The Barber of Seville, and Michael Occhipinti Jazz Ensemble www.stratfordsummermusic.ca

Other great culinary retailers to support in Stratford include Bradshaws & Kitchen Detail, Chocolate Barr’s Candies, Distinctly Tea, JENN & Larry’s Brittle & Shakes, Olive Your Favourites, Small-Mart General Mercantile, The Milky Whey Fine Cheese Shop and Karen Hartwick’s Tea Leaves Tea-Tasting Bar.

It was great to sample coffee blends and catch-up with Maria Fiallos and her sister Valeria at Toronto’s City Fare. They moved to London with their family from Nicaragua about 25 years ago, and later settled in St. Thomas-Elgin. Together they opened Las Chicas del Café, where they roast and package quality coffee (sourced exclusively from the family-run farm in the Nicaraguan rainforest) for restaurants, and for sale at markets and specialty food stores. Last June, Las Chicas del Café moved their roasting operations to the CASO Station in St. Thomas. www.laschicasdelcafe

Come to the wild side on Savour Stratford Foraging Treks as seasoned forager Peter Blush of Puck’s Plenty leads you along beautiful forest trails in search of wild edibles. Take away Peter’s favourite recipes to showcase your fresh picks. Information and tickets at www.visitstratford.ca/member/Pucks-Plenty. Puck’s Plenty offers foraging tours throughout the year as well as selected dates for foraging and feasting. These popular tours sell out quickly.

Stratford Garlic Festival is moving inside the Stratford Agriplex. Enjoy cooking demonstrations, black box and braiding competitions, presentations and market. September 10–11. www.stratfordgarlicfestival.ca

Did you know that a Stratford eatery is home to the largest selection of craft beers in Ontario? Mercer Kitchen, Beer Hall and Hotel offers 130 craft beers from around the world. www.mercerhall.com

Around Our Region

Clovermead’s Honey Festival happens on Saturdays in August, at the farm just north of Aylmer on Imperial Road. You’ll find lots of family fun, including a Bee Beard demonstration.

The Donut Diner is a fun, funky and charmingly retro mini-donut trailer operating at the Pinery Market in Grand Bend May through Thanksgiving. Get fresh, hot, made-on-the-spot mini-donuts by the dozen. Watch the “donut robot” crank out 50 dozen donuts per hour and say hello to The Donut Lady! www.facebook.com/DonutDiner

Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery is located on County Road 50 in Essex County. Sips & Sounds is a popular summer event featuring local bands playing on the beautiful grounds overlooking Lake Erie, every third Sunday from June to October. Enjoy picnic baskets, fresh housemade sangria or a glass of wine. Performances are weather dependent.

Railway City Brewing Co. of St. Thomas won two medals at the 2016 Canadian Brewing Awards in Vancouver. Black Coal Stout won gold in the Sweet Stout or Cream Stout category, while The Witty Traveller won bronze in the Wheat Beer-Belgian Style (Wit) category. Both are currently available in LCBOs throughout Ontario as well as at the retail store in St. Thomas. (The Witty Traveller is currently a spring/summer seasonal in LCBOs, but available year-round at the store.)

The newly relaunched Oxford County Cheese Trail was well represented at Toronto’s City Fare. We met Gurinder and Amarjit Singh of Ingersoll‘s Local Dairy which is housed in the historic Ingersoll Cheese Factory. Local Dairy produces cheese, cultured butter, ghee and yogurt, specializing in authentic Indian dairy products, Mennonite cheese, and traditional Mexican and Latin American crema queso and award-winning Oaxaca cheese. www.localdairy.ca

Swiss-trained chocolatier and pastry chef Philippe Lehner’s Habitual Chocolate, a local artisan bean-to-bar company, produces a variety of hand-crafted, single-origin chocolates that it retails by the bar and in drinking chocolate form. Habitual makes a full line of fine confectionery from chocolate in its Woodstock premises. www.habitualchocolate.com

Frank and Elizabeth Ihrig of Hessenland Country Inn near St. Joseph want to help define Huron County as a new wine region. The couple planted vines last year, and anticipate pouring Hessenland’s first vintage in 2018. The Ihrigs aren’t the first to grow grapes in the region, with nearby Maelstrom Winery (in Seaforth) and Alton Farms Estate Winery (in Lambton County) already producing wine. The owners of Dark Horse Estate Winery (east of Grand Bend next to the Huron County Playhouse) are putting the finishing touches on their winery, expected to open this summer.

Ontario’s Southwest brought the region’s food, wine and beer to the Toronto culinary scene and made a big splash with the City Fare event on May 26th at 99 Sudbury. The event featured over 26 beer, wine and culinary partners from across the region and was attended by over 500 media/influencers and consumers from the GTA. One of the goals was to get Toronto talking about Ontario Southwest’s great culinary products.

The Government of Ontario has recently approved a number of regulations impacting beverage alcohol in Ontario. The intent was to reduce administrative burden and remove barriers for investment and innovation. Highlights of Recent Amendments to Regulations under the Liquor Licence Act have now been posted on the AGCO website. One of the changes: As of July 1, 2017, employees of liquor licensed establishments and LDS will be required to complete an approved server training course prior to their first day of work.

Food Day Canada (FDC) is an annual mid-summer celebration, when we share Canada’s rich culinary heritage and our delicious northern bounty. FDC will be held this year on Saturday, July 30. “It is a chance for all Canadians to join hands in one massive celebration in praise of our farmers and fishers; our chefs and researchers … and, above all, our home cooks,” says founder Anita Stewart.

TOOK (The Only on King) celebrates its favourite area farmers and producers with a “Food Day Canada” menu, July 14–August 1, at $35 for a delicious three-courses. Chef Arron Carley at Stratford’s The Bruce will be preparing a six-course tasting menu on the long weekend that will feature wild “Canadian Flavours.” Abruzzi is partnering up with Growing Chefs! Chef Dave Lamers is offering a three-course menu from July 18–30, featuring all the local suppliers and farmers he collaborates with every day. For each guest that orders the Food Day Canada menu, Abruzzi will donate $5 to Growing Chefs!

Chef Lamers believes in engagement between, farmers, chefs and the general public, and sees this as a great way to give back to the community. Growing Chefs! educates children, families, and community members about nutrition, sustainability and healthy food systems by providing programs, seminars, and workshops to promote local and healthy eating.

Last year, London’s Abruzzi and Stratford’s The Red Rabbitreceived Food Day Canada Good Food Innovation Awards for their efforts. www.fooddaycanada.ca

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The Editors

The Editors