The BUZZ: November/December 2014

Written by The Editors

The cold weather’s coming, but don’t let that stop you from indulging your inner gastronome. Some of the outdoor markets remain open, and the indoor locations are also flush with fresh products. Check out a new (or new-to-you) restaurant or café in the neighbourhood. Take a day trip further afield to discover something delicious (or just to sip on your favourite wintertime beverage when you reach your destination). Head back to class — cooking class, that is — to learn some new tricks. Or nourish your mind, with something like this …

Concerned about bees? World-renowned bee expert Dr. Laurence Packer will share his insights on wild bees and will be joined by an expert panel to discuss conservation and restoration strategies in London. Find out about the issues, and learn some practical steps we can take. Plight of the Pollinators: Making London Pollinator Friendly, November 24 from 7-9 p.m. at Wolf Performance Hall (Central Library, 251 Dundas St. London) Attendance is free.

Jill Wilcox recently hosted an elegant open house to celebrate Jill’s Table’s 15th anniversary and to introduce the brand new kitchen. Jill partnered with McKaskell Haindl Design Build to create a wonderful new space so you can enjoy time around the table with great friends and food. This fall as part of their cooking class line-up they are welcoming back chefs Paul Harding, Josie Pontarelli, Vicci Coughlin, Chris Squire, Steve James and Emily Richards. New to the Jill’s Table kitchen this season are Eric Neves from The Only on King and Justin Wolfe of The Early Bird and Rock Au Taco.

Dickens’ Dinner—An Upper Canada Christmas Carol. Enjoy a Victorian Christmas dinner followed by a performance of An Upper Canada Christmas Carol: A Play by Jason Rip. Colonel Thomas Talbot may be the most powerful man in his 35,000 acre “principality” along the shore of Lake Erie in early 19th century Upper Canada, but he is not known as a kind man. Discover for yourself if a parade of tranquility-shattering phantoms can change his ultimate fate. November 28–December 13.

Kiss the Cook cooking class instructors for the next few months include Danijel Markovic of Kantina, Chris Squire, and Neil Baxter from Rundles in Stratford.

Farm Boy has plans to open two new fresh market stores in London, to be located at 109 Fanshawe Park Road East (“Masonville”) and 1415 Beaverbrook Avenue (“Beaverbrook”). The new stores will create 260 new jobs for the region when they open in the spring of 2015. The grocery is well known for its fresh produce, butcher quality meats and hundreds of unique private label items.

Paul Harding, proprietor/chef of The Only On King, was honoured as one of this year’s 20 Under 40 award recipients. The program recognizes accomplished London industry leaders who are under the age of 40 who also give back to their community. The 2014 recipients will be profiled in a special print and digital supplement to be distributed with the November issue of Business London. The recipients will also be feted at a cocktail reception at the London Music Hall on November 12.

We here at eatdrink are currently compiling London’s Local Flavour, the 2015 Tourism London Culinary Guide. This guide continues to confirm that Londoners are not just advocating “eating and drinking local” and “eating seasonal,” they are actively and creatively enhancing and making new other established cuisines. Local Flavour helps businesses participate in two popular economic trends — culinary tourism and the local food movement. Likewise, more and more environmental and ethical options such as sustainable seafood, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free and organic are being offered. For more information, contact or

“It felt like home and we put down our roots,” says Brenda Daniel of From the Meadow, who has been farming since 1978. She and her husband Dave, along with their daughter Heather, grow, harvest and manufacture a variety of natural herb products on their 5-acre plot. They call their (MyPick® local farmer verified) business an “adventure” and are passionate about creating revitalizing and relaxing healing creams, scrubs, shampoos, soaps, make-up and more with their own culinary herbs and other natural ingredients. Their products are available at their “Farmacy” at their farm in Elgin County and at the Western Fair Farmers’ & Artisans’ Market.

Smokin’ Good fishmonger John England has expanded his line of fresh and smoked fish at the Western Fair Farmers’ & Artisans’ Market. England offers a wide selection of seasonally-available fresh lake fish and shell fish that include: Lake Erie perch, pickerel, and smelt; Iceland arctic char and salmon, Campbell River salmon, wild chinook and coho salmon, gravlax, oysters and P.E.I. mussels. England is also known for his smoked pork, chicken and salmon.

In Restaurant News …

Thaifoon Restaurant has new owners, Mainsay Visouvath and Fouzan (Rafael) Beg, relatives of former owners Eddy and Alex Phimphrachanh. The kitchen continues to set Thaifoon apart with bang-on aromatic specialties from the Thai culinary canon and with a keen eye for detail and presentation. The minimalist room is sleek, with a sexy, upbeat soundtrack, rich dark woods and ultra-soft leather banquettes.

Olive R Twists opened in mid-October in the Covent Garden Market after months of refurbishment. The restaurant is co-owned by Chris Doris, co-owner of Doris Family Produce in the market, and Greg Efstatheu, a restaurateur/chef from Ingersoll. Menus feature casual bistro fare. The 75-foot-long bar uses state of the art tap technology. Find your favourite craft and draft beers, handcrafted cocktails, and an intriguing menu of classic and trendy martinis.

The sale of the Honest Lawyer building, which also housed Downtown Kathy Brown’s, is expected to be finalized at the end of October. Restaurateur Marvin Rivas, who blends tradition and ingenuity in true Latin American style at his downtown hot-spot, Che Restobar, plans to put an upscale restaurant with an atrium on the main floor and residential apartments on the upper floors.

Tabitha Switzer and David Coulter have been running La Noisette Bakery for a few months now, and getting rave reviews. Located in Bellwood Plaza (Oxford and Gammage, in London) they offer breads, pastries, sandwiches, soups, and Patrick’s Beans. Always fresh-made, and offered with a smile. Find La Noisette Bakery on Facebook.

The Church Key Bistro-Pub offers top-notch cooking and chef Michael Anglestad has a repertoire of flavours that are big, brash and rustic but thoroughly cosmopolitan. Pastry chef Cliff Briden is also at the top of his game. Best of all, owners Vanessa and Pete Willis have created a welcoming place for locals to meet and imbibe. The Church Key serves one of the best Sunday brunches in the city.

Established and operated by brothers Peter, Theodoros and Elias Vergiris, The Mascot was a family-run restaurant that relied on a loyal clientele of regulars for 43 years. The Mascot closed in October when the family retired. The building, near Dundas and Richmond, was purchased by Michael Manuel of the London Music Hall.

The panoramic views and the tailored simplicity and elegance of The River Room Café and Private Catering make it a pleasing spot for lunch or Sunday brunch. Jess Jazey-Spoelstra’s kitchen has a deserved reputation for the quality of the ingredients and the knowledgeable and expressive exuberance of the preparations. Currently open just for lunch, Jazey-Spoelstra tells eatdrink that she plans to open the third Thursday every month for dinner starting in the New Year. Jazey-Spoelstra’s smart Rhino Lounge Bakery and Coffee Shoppe, situated in the former gift shop at Museum London, is now serving made-to-order sandwiches on Pastry Chef Michele Lenhardt’s daily bread (flavours change). And don’t forget about Lenhardt’s delicious cronuts on Thursdays.

Felipe Gomes provides an experiential culinary offering at Aroma Mediterranean Restaurant,with amenities and facilities for cooking classes, corporate team building exercises and a private conference room for up to 30. Gomes’s other project is the Aroma Café, a Parisian-inspired coffee house offering patrons a selection of speciality sandwiches, café au lait, croissants and pâtisserie.

Icarus Resto Bar on Richmond Row, next to Black Trumpet, has gotten off to a smash success. Uber-chef Thomas Waite is plating up some very innovative and interesting modernist-inspired and reimagined Mediterranean and Greek dishes in the open kitchen. The hospitable Zack Agathos and his service-oriented staff are keeping the place humming.

Linda D’Andrea of Black Trumpet tells us that Chef Jason Eccles and Chef James Smith at La Casa and Chef Scott Wesseling at Black Trumpet have just introduced new lunch and dinner menus for the upcoming holiday season. &

Blu Duby has become one of London’s hottest downtown restaurants — just try getting a last-minute reservation on a weekend night. Chef Jamie Craig has recently joined Blu Duby, bringing a culinary philosophy of appreciation for fresh quality commodities and consistent proper preparation. In addition to his passion for cooking, Jamie finds great satisfaction in helping to discover and develop the talents of his younger chef apprentices. He keeps his own skills current and sharp by participating in culinary festivals like Savour Stratford, and Canada’s Gold Medal Plate event.

Chef de Cuisine Trevor Stephens holds an Interprovincial Red Seal Certificate and received classical training at Fanshawe College. He comes to Idlewyld Inn & Spa after spending nine years at their sister Inn, Ingersoll’s Elm Hurst Inn & Spa, where he achieved the title of sous chef. Nestled in London’s quaint Old South neighborhood, the historic Idlewyld has sustained its air of excellence for over a century. What started out as a private residence in Victorian times has evolved into London’s premier boutique hotel, boasting membership in such organizations as Distinguished Inns of North America and gaining the prestigious designation of being named one of Ontario’s Finest Inns. Check out Chef Stephen’s new menu online.

Members of the London Brewing Cooperative will be talking about their brewing practices during two special events in November, both at The Root Cellar. Called Farm to Fork: The People’s Pint, the events run from 6 to 9 pm, November 12 and 27. Cost is $50, which includes a three-course meal and a flight of beers.

Poacher’s Arms is London’s oldest pub. True to the pub tradition, it offers good solid hearty food at accessible prices. Co-owner Jim Lee tells us that the menu has been revamped and polished to include some great new items. The pub now carries 5 new rotating craft beers on draught that they are constantly changing, which has generated a lot of positive feedback from their regulars.

Restaurateur Mike Smith has installed a brewery in the basement of his Jim Bob Ray’s bar and is getting geared up to launch a line of locally-brewed craft beer. The primary market for his beer will be his own establishments: Jim Bob Ray’s, Joe Kool’s, Fellini Koolini’s Italian Cuisini, The Runt Club and P Za Pie. However, Smith is also working on attaining licensing and developing a brand so he can retail his craft beers in other establishments, joining other local craft brewery favourites like London’s Forked River, Railway City in St. Thomas, the fledgling Black Swan Brewery in Stratford and the new Strathroy Brewing Company.

In Coffee News …

Locomotive Espresso is now retailing the Aeropress (similar to a French press) and the KeepCup (the world’s first barista standard reusable cup) which are both getting rave reviews. They continue to brew the classic favourites, and the flat white (Aussie) and cortado (South America) beverages are gaining popularity. And, for espressophiles, Locomotive is hosting a December bus trip to Toronto. Tour the Pilot Roaster tasting bar and three selected espresso bars, and get your fill of coffee for the day.

Patrick Dunham’s goal is to offer high quality coffee blends that are roasted locally and sourced ethically. Dunham caters to the specific needs of clients and his strategy includes offering fund raising opportunities to non-profits as well as demonstrating transparent community involvement. Beans are roasted in small batches and blended to attain tailor-made tastes and complexities that cannot be found in single varietal selections. Look for Patrick’s Beans on Facebook, or at Ogilvie’s Market, Sunnivue Farm near Ailsa Craig, The Arva Flour Mill, Time to Chill in Woodstock, The Root Cellar, Hungary Butcher and The Rhino Bakery and Lounge.

Around The Region …

Yoda’s Private Catering has moved! The small (but mighty!) catering company is now located at 481 Talbot Street, St. Thomas. Stay tuned for their grand opening in January 2015. Open to the public every Wednesday for #walkinwednesday from 10am–6pm with seasonal soups, frozen entrees and lunch specials, with plenty of vegetarian and gluten free options.

The folks at Railway City Brewing are pleased to announce that they have just received another order of new 40HL and 20HL fermentors, increasing brewing capacity by 50%. Stop in for a visit, and check out the new equipment. They will be releasing Cranberry Festive Lager in November at a Thursday Night Release event. Featuring cranberries from Bala, Ontario, the lager will be available from the LCBO as part of Railway City’s Holiday Gift Pack.

The Little Inn, the heart of hospitality in heritage Bayfield, has changed ownership. After 33 years, Gayle and Pat Waters have turned the business over to new owners Mike and Joanne Oliver. The Olivers will be making a few changes to maintain and update the building. The inn has been the centre of the Huron County village since 1832 and has been Four Diamond CAA rated for more than 20 years.

Air Canada’s award-winning inflight magazine, enRoute, announced their Top 10 list of Canada’s Best New Restaurants 2014, as well as the Best New Restaurants 2014 People’s Choice Award. On a month-long culinary journey that took noted food writer Andrew Braithwaite from Tofino, British Columbia to St. John’s, Newfoundland, he discovered a group of chefs, sommeliers and restaurateurs who continued to explore this country’s terroir and redefine what it means to dine out in Canada. Read more:

Stratford …

Mercer Hall Craft Beer Dinner Series. Chefs Tim Larson and Sean Collins create 4 courses matched with 4 beers from a different craft brewery each month. Learn about the breweries and the process while enjoying seasonal and staple products from these artisan breweries. Overnight packages are available with Mercer Hall guest rooms. On November 20, the partner brewer is Flying Monkeys Brewery from Barrie. On December 18, Block Three Brewing Company from St. Jacobs will be there.

If your senses light up with the first signs of Christmas, then Stratford’s annual Yuletide Tour of Home is the place you’ll want to start. Presented by the local chapter of IODE, the tour features four beautiful city homes and one gracious country home, all decorated by local designers in the tantalizing sights, sounds, textures and aromas of the season. At Royal Palisade tourers can feast on hot mulled cider and mouth-watering Christmas goodies created under the direction of executive chef Liz Tracey. November 22 and 23. 519-271-8745,, or on Facebook.

Bradshaws Christmas Open House is an annual shopping tradition in downtown Stratford, marking the beginning of the holiday season. Visit this event for delicious food samplings, new product demos, and the best assortment of holiday gifts, foods and kitchenware. Enter to win door prizes and receive a FREE gift with purchase. Thursday November 6th 5–8pm.

We love Monforte Dairy’s 30 varieties of artisanal cheese available at over 30 farmers markets, and catching a local seasonal meal (preferably with cheese!) at Monforte on Wellington, a relaxed osteria style restaurant. Now the Monforte Home Farm is part of the family, where the community will come for sustenance, learning and revitalization. In March 2015, the Monforte Dairy Artisanal Cheesemaking School will be launched.

Want to be a food critic? Stratford Chefs School aspiring chefs are preparing favourite classic menus with passion and skill and invite you to join them. The Classic Dinner Series is served at The Prune, while 3-course lunches designed by the students take place at Bijou Friday and Saturday.

Mercer Hall presents The SUPPER CLUB. This is a long table dinner with a themed menu and guests are encouraged to dress up to match the theme. How about donning that ugly Christmas sweater for “The Griswalds” dinner? Tickets are $50, include a feature cocktail and 4-5 course dinner. Cocktails begin at 6pm and dinner is served family-style in the private dining room. December 20. 519-271-9202,

Slow Food Perth County Sunday Market is moving inside, to a NEW location — The Falstaff Family Centre, Stratford, 35 Waterloo Street, Stratford. The market you know and love is open Sundays from 10 am–2 pm all year round.

Blue Cheese and Port, one of the classic food and beverage pairings will be discussed and tasted with several variations of blue veined cheeses and 3 different ports. Saturday, November 22 at The Milky Whey Fine Cheese Shop.

Stratford Farmers’ Market is a year-round market operating since 1855. Fresh produce, crafts, meat and cheese. Stratford Rotary Complex–Agriplex, 353 McCarthy Rd., Stratford. Saturdays 7 am–12 pm. 519-271-5130.

Scotch and Chocolate: Share the warmth as Kristene Steed of Rheo Thompson Candies pairs up with a whisky expert for a smooth tasting of scotch and chocolate. Saturday, December 13.

A Wind in the Willows Christmas — Join Alternative Theatre Works this holiday season in this delightful family-friendly adventure to Mole End! This fresh adaptation by Alternative Theatre Works of A Wind in the Willows is back and sure to be a holiday classic in Stratford. Special guest Graham Greene takes on the character of Toad, joining some of Stratford’s most beloved actors, Stephen Russell, Brad Rudy and Robert King. Come and share this heartwarming tale of friendship, generosity and the joy of being home for Christmas in Stratford. The cast is pleased to welcome Stratford actress Jessica Seguin as Head Mouse! The Masonic Hall, December 17–30. Don’t miss out on an experience that is sure to bring joy to your whole family this festive season.


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The Editors