The Buzz: November/December 2015

Written by The Editors

As we head into winter, seasonal events and festivals are beginning, providing reasons and destinations for day tripping around our region. As well, some farmers’ markets operate year ‘round, including those in Sarnia, Chatham, Simcoe, Dunnville and Woodstock. So, take a hike!

Regional …

The C-K Table is promoting the Craft Beer & Cider Festival, on November 21. The event will showcase craft breweries from across southern Ontario in a festival format, as well as host the first-ever Farmer-Brewmaster Summit. The Summit will provide opportunities for Ontario craft brewers to meet local farmers and discuss their needs regarding grains and the brewing process. Local farmers will have the opportunity to learn more about the opportunities to work with Ontario brewers by supplying grains and hops.

The wineries of Essex County invite you to explore your inner artist and create inspiring paintings, with the help of good friends and, of course, wine! In three hours you will finish a canvas painting while sampling some of the area’s most popular and distinguished wines. On December 4 the Wine & Paint Night will be at Colio Estate Winery in Harrow.

Yoda’s Kitchen has expanded and is now open every Wednesday from 11 to 6 for light lunch and seasonal to-go meals. Focusing on plant based food, Chef Yoda Olinyk has opened her kitchen up for cooking classes, workshops and events. Yoda’s Kitchen will also be a vendor, and Yoda a speaker, at Veg Fest London in November.

On September 26th Huron Food Action Network (HFAN) honoured local food heroes in an awards presentation at the Bayfield Town Hall. Sarah and Peter Gusso of Part II Bistro in Blyth won for “Most Local Restaurant”. Nathan Swartz, food systems coordinator with HFAN, said the restaurant won because of its menu, for which it sources as many local ingredients as possible. Sophie and Christian Burdan of Red Cat Farm won the “Best Farm Tour 2015”. Marlene Beyerlein of Bayfield Berry Farm had overwhelming support in the “Most Loved Farmers’ Market Vendor” category, and Jim and Catherine Landsborough of Maelstrom Winery won “Most Potential”. The HFAN food charter is a set of commitments for the community to cultivate a sustainable local food system.

Part II Bistro in Blyth has ascended to the top of the restaurant scene when it was ranked the number one restaurant in the province (out of 29,000) on the travel website TripAdvisor, the largest travel review website in the world. Chef and owner Peter Gusso received the call from Trip Advisor on September 9th, informing him of the ranking.

Three years ago, the hometown couple of Peter and Sarah Gusso opened Part II Bistro. Peter, a Fanshawe College culinary grad, previously worked at Waldo’s on King with Mark Kitching. The Gussos worked in the British Isles to have new experiences and hone their culinary skills. Initially, they operated the Blyth Station House B & B and a catering business. In June 2012, they launched the bistro. Shortly after, Gusso won the Taste of Huron Chef’s Challenge and has been drawing in Huron County enthusiasts ever since. The bistro is conveniently located across from the Blyth Festival Theatre on the village’s main street. The dining room is casual with a blend of rural charm and a modern flair, featuring theatre festival posters on the walls with a ceiling draped in twinkle lights.

Langdon Hall has always been known for setting the benchmark when it comes to luxurious surroundings and exemplary service. That quest continues with the announcement of an expansion. The brand new wing, located by the lower garden, will be home to a state-of-the-art spa, event venue and eight luxurious guest rooms. Completion is slated for January 2016.

Five Canadian restaurants have won this year’s University of Guelph Good Food Innovation Awards for inventive approaches and imaginative meals. The annual awards, launched in 2010, are sponsored by Stewart, the University of Guelph President’s Office, the Ontario Agricultural College, and the College of Business and Economics. They recognize chefs and food professionals who use Canadian ingredients to make unique, healthy menu selections, and who follow sustainable management practices. “Canadian culinary traditions are constantly evolving, and these five chefs are at the forefront of these changes,” said Anita Stewart, Canada’s first food laureate at University of Guelph and founder of Cuisine Canada and Food Day Canada. This year, the five gold medal winners were Langdon Hall (Cambridge, ON), Taverne Monkland (Montreal, PQ), Les Jardins Sauvages (Saint-Roch-del’Achigan, PQ), Little Louis Oyster Bar (Moncton, NB), and River Café, (Calgary).

This fall, Feast ON-certified restaurants across Ontario will be offering unique dining experiences designed to highlight Ontario food and drink. Participating restaurants will showcase Ontario beef and cow’s milk cheese, produced by the Beef Farmers of Ontario and Dairy Farmers of Canada. In our region, restaurants include Eddington’s of Exeter, Mercer Hall, The Bruce, Pazzo, sixthirtynine, Langdon Hall, and Nick and Nat’s Uptown 21.

Stratford …

Alan Malloux and Barb McMahon of Downie Street Bakehouse have completed the expansion of the bakery. New ovens, another walk-in fridge and a new retail space that one of the customers described as sexy. Designed by Ron Nuhn, how could it be otherwise?

Soup Surreal is growing from strength to strength. The outside of the shop is newly updated and business is booming.

Monforte on Wellington is bringing back Family Style Dinners on Sunday nights starting November 1st.

The Red Rabbit has released its Supper Club dates beginning with “Orange is the New Black” dinner on November 21st and “A Christmas Carol” on December 19th. $50 per person includes four-plus courses on theme! Be sure to stay tuned for the Beer Dinner series release starting in November.

Bijou is serving Sunday Brunch featuring “elevated traditional brunch items” augmented by “Global Dim Sum.” Diners will be able to select items directly from the Dim Sum cart. The menu will include a core offering of Asian and Chinese specialities complemented by tacos, raviolis and perogies.

In October, Bijou switched to a full a la carte dinner menu. Chef Max Holbrook and the culinary team will feature 12 to 14 small plates/appetizer items and seven main course choices, plus daily features. Bijou can customize menus to suite special occasion and seasonal celebration events from 8-80 people.

Stratford Chefs School Lunch and Dinner Series: The classic four- to six-course Dinner Series meals are served at The Prune, Tuesdays through Saturdays, while three-course lunches take place at Rene’s Bistro Fridays and Saturdays. Wines available by the glass or $5 corkage. Menus change daily. Share your feedback following your meal. Take advantage of special dinner packages available now for a limited time and reserve your place at the table.

Here’s the line-up for the Live at Revival House Music Series:

• Saturday, November 7: Lucinda Jones returns for her annual concert with an evening of Retro Jazz and Blues with the Lucinda Jones Band.

• Friday, November 13: Award-winning, roots based, pop/rock recording artists, Upside of Maybe and singer/songwriter Dayna Manning.

• Thursday, November 19: Madison Violet released their new album “Year of the Horse” in Europe this past year. Influenced by pop, electro, disco and folk, the new songs are a fresh direction for the Juno-nominated Lisa MacIsaac and Brenley MacEachearn.

• Saturday, December 12: Ali Matthews, a contemporary Canadian Christian musician and songwriter from Stratford, presents a seasonal concert.

The Gamekeeper’s Dinner is a unique opportunity to sample Canadian wild game prepared by local chef talent. Enjoy a four-course dinner featuring a selection of meats from the hunt as well as local fish, with each dish prepared with local wine, beer and spirits. All proceeds support The Local Community Food Centre, a place where people come together to access, cook, grow, share and advocate for good food for all! Friday November 13.

The Sunday Slow Food Market has moved to its winter location at the Falstaff Family Centre, 35 Waterloo St. N. Vendors are very excited to be spending their second winter in the same bright, cozy location. Customers will be able to buy all the fixings for a great Sunday dinner. There’s often live music and the Slow Food Youth operate a cafe in the kitchen downstairs.

Scotch and Chocolate: Christine Chessell of Rheo Thompson Candies and whiskey sommelier Steve Rae expertly pair seven unique whiskies with different Rheo Thompson chocolates for a smooth tasting experience. Revival House, Saturday December 19.

On Sunday, November 22nd from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm visit the historic Market Square for Stratford’s Victorian Christmas Market. Vendors will offer holiday foods, crafts and gifts. Sip hot cocoa while listening to costumed carollers singing seasonal tunes.

Stop in at the Local Community Food Centre on Sunday, November 29th from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm. in Stratford to enjoy live Bluegrass Music with brunch and coffee from local coffee roaster, To Bean or Not to Bean. This event is pay-what-you-can.

Catch the spirit of the season on the Victorian Christmas Trail, a self-guided walk to shops dressed for the holidays offering tasty treats perfect for stocking stuffers (or just for you!). Pick up your trail pass at Stratford Tourism Alliance. This seasonal trail runs November 12 to December 20, 2015.

Bradshaws presents Naughty Nog and other Holiday Libations: Mixology for the upcoming Holiday Season, a unique event on November 26 at Red Rabbit bistro. Hosted by Jessie Larsen, the evening will empower you to make your own all-natural and delicious eggnog ahead of the holiday season. You’ll learn the easy but impressive art of creating holiday infusions, and how to update old favourites like hot toddies and buttered rum. Light bar snacks to be served. The $40 fee includes a bottle of Canadian-crafted Dillon’s Bitters (retail value $16.95). And check the website for details on another Bradshaws event in early December called “Meet the Butler” — Learn proper etiquette and holiday entertaining tips from a REAL butler!

Around London …

The 20 Under 40 Awards Program recognizes accomplished industry leaders in London who are younger than 40 who also give back to their community. The awards are given by Business London magazine and sponsored by Harrison Pensa, Lovers At Work, BlueStone Properties, the Pristine Olive Tasting Bar, Magnus Associates, CIBC Wood Gundy Pryde Financial Group and Nothers Signs and Recognition. Three of our favourite colleagues from the culinary world will be recognized at a reception at London Music Hall  on Nov. 19. They are: Andrew Fleet, Founder and Executive Director, Growing Chefs! Ontario; Jessica Jazey-Spoelstra, President and CEO, North Moore Catering, The River Room and Rhino Lounge Bakery and Coffee Shop; and Jeff Pastorius, Founder, On The Move Organics, and Co-founder, The Root Cellar and London Brewing Co-operative.

Chi and Tai Diep opened Taika Japanese restaurant in 2003, concentrating on premium sushi and sashimi. After years in the restaurant business, Chi and Tai have returned to their origins, offering home-style Vietnamese cuisine. The genius of Vietnamese cooking lies in the adaptation of foreign influences to develop a distinctly unique and subtle cuisine with contrasting flavours and textures. In April, they relaunched their restaurant as Saigon 88, featuring signature dishes such as pho, a deeply-flavoured broth with long rice noodles, fresh herbs and thin slices of meat most often accompanied with a side of bean sprouts, peppers and lime wedges. Other signatures include pad thai, vermicelli noodle bowls, bahn xeo, traditional savoury fried pancakes made from rice flour, and lemongrass scented chicken. The restaurant started out at 500 Oxford St. W. and relocated south to 400 Sugarcreek Trail in the Riverside-Wonderland Road area in 2012.

The eleventh annual London Wine and Food Show presented by White Oaks Mall will be back at the Metroland Media Agriplex from Thursday, January 14 to 16th with an ever-expanding show floor. See the centre spread of this issue for more details, but in short, Friday night is Ladies’ Night, presented by Pandora. New this year is a second entertainment stage presented by Fanshawe College. Explore the Whiskey Lounge, or take a stroll down Craft Brew Row.

Things are rolling along at Locomotive Espresso. Some new offerings to their fall/winter line up are the fall sandwich offerings from their caterer, Heirloom Catering and new daily soups from MoMo’s at the Market. Enjoy a Maple Latte, its Pilot Roasters Big Bro espresso roast, teamed with locally sourced syrup from Bishop Farms. Enjoy their toast bar; the new favourite spread seems to be the cashew butter. Fresh breads are provided by The Artisan Bakery. Friday mornings are always special too at Locomotive Espresso, when they receive fresh-baked almond and butter croissants and chocolate brioche.

Justin and Gregg Wolf of The Early Bird diner and Rock au Taco are working on their new concept in Wortley Village. They will be calling the establishment Wolfe of Wortley, trying to bring a new experience to the village with a cozy 20-seat restaurant and a 14-seat patio. Wolfe on Wortley will be open evenings only, for people looking for a date spot or a nice evening out on the town. Expect casual but sophisticated dining focusing on pickling, fermenting and preserving. The menu will also feature oysters, charcuterie, house made pastas and other farm fresh offerings made from scratch.

Downtown London …

The cool weather is coming but you can fill your belly on Sunday afternoons in November with Two-Course Films on Food, at Museum London, when staff pull old and new flicks out of the cupboard, tossing documentaries and dramas together with a dash of comedy. There’s something to satiate all palettes, so help yourself to a second serving!

On November 14, VegFest London will feature vegan food, product, health and wellness vendors, special guest speakers, cooking demos, a children’s activity area and more. Western Fair District Progress Building.

Festival of Trees at the Covent Garden Market will run November 26–Sunday November 29. Visit Santa’s Secret Shoppe on the Upper Level, with a variety of quality gifts for family and friends priced $5 or less. (Only children at heart are permitted in the store!)  At “Soupendous” Lunch, market vendors compete for the Best Soup. Taste competing soups prepared by local chefs, help judges pick winners — and enjoy entertainment and other fun for $5. Friday, 11:30 to 2. Breakfast with Santa on Saturday from 9:30 am to 2 pm. Tickets are $5 and include a pancake breakfast and a special gift from Santa. Photos with Santa will also be available, for children of all ages, for $5. And for more fun for the family,The Kids Corner will be located near Santa’s Secret Shoppe. Children can create one of the many holiday-themed crafts with their parents. Saturday, 8 to 6.

Garlic’s of London will be selling small baskets of honey and garlicky products from The Garlic Box in Hensall during the holidays — a great gift, when combined with a gift certificate. Garlic’s is thrilled to feature some new seasonal fare on their menu, including Ontario Lamb Shank and Braised Beef Pappardelle.

On Sunday December 6, enjoy Christmas Tea at Eldon House. Get into the holiday spirit with live entertainment, tea and a substantial 19th century menu before you tour Eldon House, decorated for Victorian Christmas! By reservation only.

Local brothers Kirk and Victor Anastasiadis have opened Burger Burger at 633 Richmond St. A signature item is a triple-decker burger with three grilled cheese sandwiches as buns. Word has it there is even a quadruple burger!

Local musicians will be coming together to help the London Food Bank increase food supply for those in need!! Attendees are asked to bring non-perishable food items to enter the event at Food Bank Rock Lottery at The APK. As well as admission the food items enter you into a raffle. The more items you bring the more chances you will have to win! Saturday, December 12.

Kiss the Cook is celebrating its 15th anniversary. Owner Lawrence Burden’s passion is searching for the highest-quality kitchenware — sourcing it from around the world — and bringing it to your kitchen. Kiss the Cook provides a wide range of cookware, kitchen gadgets, and giftware, and offers a popular bridal registry. Chris Squire, who was also partly responsible for dreaming up the name Kiss the Cook, is Chef-in-Residence and, along with a variety of top-notch local chefs, offers cooking classes.

Blu Duby owners Joe and Cheryl Duby have built a diverse and loyal clientele by combining an accessible menu and wine list with upbeat ambience. Chef Jamie Craig has just launched a new menu for the holiday season. Three separate spaces can be easily transformed into private dining areas to accommodate parties and all types of special occasions with attentive service, customizable menus and the ability to leave the planning to talented professionals.

The Silver Star Mountain Resort in Okanagan, British Columbia recently welcomed Chef Scott Sanderson as executive chef. Chef Sanderson was Executive Chef at La Casa Ristorante for eight years, carrying on the venerable restaurant’s 20-year tradition of excellence. Sanderson spent the last year as Head Chef of the iconic and authentically Italian Bertoldi’s Trattoria on Richmond Row.

After a $10-million renovation, the London Hilton has been rebranded and relaunched as a DoubleTree by Hilton property. The former London Grill space has been transformed into Blake’s Bistro and Bar, with a contemporary look and updated menu.

The Bull and Barrel opened at 359 Talbot Street in mid-October, featuring southern-style smokehouse cooking, a rooftop patio, dance floor and mechanical bull. Open seven nights a week, enjoy country music several nights a week with a band and DJs. Some servers will double as line-dancers.

Brown and Dickson is an antiquarian booksellers located in the former Novack’s premises at King and Clarence Streets. Brown and Dickson are the anchor retail tenant sharing space with smaller “pop-up” retailers trying to get a start in the market before moving on to more permanent space. Their specialty is Canadian culture. This is the place to find rare cookbooks.

Quantum Interiors just unveiled their new showroom on Richmond Row. Quantum will now have products for kitchen, bar, and dining room redecorations and renovations.

Old East Village …

Mary Ann Wrona is one of the original market vendors at the Farmers’ & Artisans’ Market at Western Fair. Wrona, originally known to market-goers as “The Cabbage Roll Lady,” recently celebrated eight years operating Café Bourgeois at the market. She is gearing up for the holiday season by preparing what she refers to as “culturally and ethnically authentic Ontario-sourced soul food.” This is healthy catering and gourmet-to-go with strong ties to the eclectic Polish-French culinary tradition. Wrona is known for her signature queen-sized potato stuffed perogies, made with a thicker than usual, dairy-free dough that gives it more of a “chew,” and fries to a golden brown, and for tourtière, stuffed squash and a variety of classic vegetarian specialities and fabulous organic soups.

The Harvest Pantry is now located on the 2nd floor of the Farmers’ & Artisans’ Market at Western Fair. The food and kitchen small wares pantry’s focus is on preparing small batch ferments, like sauerkraut, kimchi, cultured mustards, miso and kombucha. The shop also partners with other local producers to offer wild foraged Chagas, medicinal herbs, tea blends, organic spices and sweet seasonal jams and jellies.

Coyote’s Run Estate Winery is a small artisan winery located in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The wines will soon be available at the Farmers’ & Artisans’ Market at Western Fair.

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The Editors