The proposal to host the 2013 World Figure Skating Championships event was put forward by Tourism London on behalf of the City of London, and Tourism’s hospitality partners. For the local community, and our culinary community in particular, who will be an important part of the festivities, it will be an opportunity to showcase our distinctive culinary professionals.
The annual event moves around the globe, attracting more than 50,000 spectators and showcasing 165 skaters from over 40 countries. It is anticipated that over 500 media representatives will be present. Approximately 500 volunteers have been recruited to ensure that the programme runs smoothly and successfully. This will be the first sporting event held in downtown London to be televised around the world (to 160 million viewers in roughly sixty countries). The 2013 Local Flavour Culinary Guide showcasing London’s best restaurants and highlighting unique culinary retailers, markets and festivals, has been released in plenty of time to be in full circulation well before the event.
Downtown London is hosting a welcome centre at 123 King Street for the duration of the championships. They are a downtown resource for everyone, so feel free to stop by from 9am–11pm, if you have any questions during the event. Tourism London will also have several concierge stations set up around the city to welcome guests.
The festivities don’t end on the ice. Through the Light Up London initiative and on-site Fan Festival, the entire London community will be engaged in a full week of celebrations. London Arts Council and London Heritage Council are booking a variety of local entertainers — an eclectic mix of multicultural talents, geared towards the programming happening inside the tent at the Covent Garden Market and outside at Budweiser Gardens.
Jess Jazey-Spoelstra is pleased to announce that The River Room (www.theriverroom.ca) which normally closes to the public at 4pm, will be open for dinner during the competition. Several downtown restaurants, like The Only On King (www.theonlyonking.ca ) and Kantina (www.kantina.ca), will similarly expand their service hours and offer lunch during the World Figure Skating Championships.
Multicultural “gourmet street food” food trucks are trending. They’ve been building in popularity thanks to food shows, farmers’ markets and culinary events across North America. In London, the food truck phenomenon is just emerging. Food trucks serve a variety of tasty treats and ethnic foods. They are positioned to incubate new businesses and become an alternative launching pad for healthy, creative food. Food Truck Eats in Stratford, in coordination with Ontario Food Trucks, came to Stratford market square last year. The event saw gourmet food trucks from GTA alongside local chefs with their own pop-up food stalls for the day. The food items presented were authentic, street food-inspired dishes that also featured Perth County farmers and producers.
According to our sources, Fire Roasted Coffee wants to work with community partners and launch a food truck this summer, selling fair trade coffee, ethically-sourced chocolate and cold beverages. The truck would be stationed at predetermined locations on weekdays and travel to special events on evenings and weekends.. We like food trucks because they stimulate culinary innovation, draw culinary tourists, provide employment, and contribute revenue to the city’s coffers. They can offer a valuable service to Londoners, and help stimulate our neighborhoods. We believe they are destined to become an important part of the social fabric of the city.
Speaking of Fire Roasted Coffee, uber-entrepreneur owner Dave Cook is opening a flagship store at the corner of King and Talbot Street (kitty-corner from the Covent Garden Market). The building will house both a Fire Roasted coffee roastery and café as well as a Habitual Chocolate micro-facility to produce a variety of hand-crafted, single-origin chocolates that it retails by the bar and in drinking chocolate form. In addition, they make a full line of fine confectionery from their chocolate.
Culinary tourists spend more, stay longer and they keep coming back. That was the message Rebecca LeHeup, executive director, of the Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance gave to participants of the EDCO conference in February. LeHeup said culinary tourists tend to have a higher disposable income and are more likely to visit other tourist attractions. LeHeup said local food should be identified whenever possible on menus but restaurateurs and retailers must be honest because culinary tourists are sophisticated.
The once dazzling Blue Ginger, a perennial CAA Four Diamond award winner in its heyday, has closed and the Richmond Row building is for sale.
Mathew “Matt” McKenzie, who has a loyal and devoted following from his days at Waldo’s on King, has been promoted to general manager of the blu duby.
Deb Denton, everyone’s favourite bartender, has left the UpFront at the Market where she has been a welcoming presence and familiar face behind the bar through all its incarnations in the last 13 years.
Windermere Manor’s Executive Chef Kristain Crossen built a stellar culinary reputation at the late lamented Braise Food and Wine, at Carter’s on Downie in Stratford and at Langdon Hall, with his sustainable culinary philosophy, and farm-to-table sensibility. Chef and his culinary team showcase a selection of “old favourites,” signature ingredients, and taste experiences that change to take advantage of the seasons on his new menus. www.windermeremanor.com
A must-see culinary heritage destination is located on the city’s edge. The Arva Flour Mill has been operating since 1819. Mike Mathews is the fourth generation of his family to be involved with the business. Purveyors of high quality whole wheat, unbleached, pastry and organic flours, the historic mill still uses water power from Medway Creek. The newest addition to the Mill District is The Millhouse, which offers a variety of other related products such as natural and organic frozen meats, local cheeses, wheat grass and barley grass juice, gourmet oils, sauces and preserves. 2042 Elgin (off Richmond), Arva www.arvaflourmill.com
We have lots of great Mexican and El Salvadorian food in the city for take-out and casual eating. Try Londombia, Los Comales, Su Casa, El Ranchito, Mexi-Cactus, Lo Nuestro and True Taco. Luis Rivas’ new restaurant, True Taco Authentic Comedor Latino, is expected to open in late March/early April across the street from his existing premises on Dundas Street.
Dagmar Wendt and Rueben Vega’s Under the Volcano has been serving fresh Mexican-inspired cooking for over 35 years. They are now moving into the building formerly occupied by the Cityview Restaurant at the intersection of Wharncliffe Road and Riverside Drive. The restaurant is expected to open in early March. Volcano’s motto is “from mild to wild.” 30 Wharncliffe Road North www.underthevolcano.co
Gabriel Sepulvelda, a native of Chile, opened the Latin-American inspired Mas Café in downtown London in mid-December. Mas Café sources its ingredients locally including its butcher products which come from Mennonite farmers. The Pork or Beef Milanesa (breaded and fried cutlet sandwich) alone is worth the visit. Delicious empanadas are stuffed with a variety of traditional fillings and churros. A delicious fried choux paste doughnut is made-to-order and filled with manjar de leche.
Paramount Fine Foods is the”go to” place for authentic, marché-style Halal and Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. The bakery produces fresh baked pita, and on the menu are items such as shawarma, falafel, tabbouleh, shish tawouk and the specialty charbroiled chicken and beef. Also on offer is a full line of hand rolled, house made Arabic sweets and pastries. 769 Southdale Road East (at Adelaide) www.paramountfinefoods.com
The new kid on the block, Lee Chul Wha, is serving delicious versions of bibimbap and bulgogi. His Korean House continues to get great word-of-mouth. 170 Adelaide St. N (at Hamilton Road)
The Meatless Market is London’s only retailer of grab-and-go prepared foods geared exclusively to vegetarians. Owner Paul Gagliardi says the shop carries a wide selection of products, including fresh and frozen vegetarian and vegan entrees, the store’s own private label meal kits and prepared meals. Many of the selections are suitable for gluten-free diets. (1350 Fanshawe Park Rd. W. near Hyde Park Road) www.themeatlessmarket.com
Trichilo’s Ristorante will be hosting their semi-annual wine tasting dinner on Wednesday April 10th. The Italian-themed, four-course menu with wine pairings by Chef Rick Knechtel, is always an entertaining and educational night for small groups and fun for couples. Book ahead as seats are limited. $75.00 per person. www.trichilos.ca
A Meet and Greet will be held on Friday April 26th, with Chef Michael Smith, showcasing exceptional food and drink provided by local London restaurants including Fire Roasted Coffee, Habitual Chocolate, Fanshawe College, The Morrissey House, Milos’ Beer Emporium, The Bag Lady, The Springs, The Early Bird and Kantina. Tickets are $100 with proceeds going to support Bethany’s Hope.
GCW Custom Kitchens first met Chef Michael Smith through the 2008 Bethany’s Hope Foundation Dinner. In the years since, their relationship has grown as Smith jumped in to help grow the Bethany’s Hope Foundation dinners, which this year is called Chef Michael’s Kitchen Party. More recently, GCW took on the creation of Smith’s dream home/TV kitchen and its installation in Prince Edward Island. Throughout, GCW has appreciated Smith’s genuine, down-to-earth manner, and Smith is now a spokesperson for GCW Custom Kitchens and fully endorses the company. This year the Bethany’s Hope Foundation Dinner on Saturday April 27th includes a fabulous oyster bar. Tickets are $200. Contact Lindey McIntyre at 519-858-4673 www.bethanyshope.org
Forest City Distribution has been renamed Forest City Fine Foods, Cheese & Beverage. They are offering a diverse product mix, including locally made artisan cheeses and other related dairy products. New products include niche beverages, natural and organic grocery items, and expanded food service offerings. They have changed their website to www.forestcityfinefoods.com .
London is getting its own craft brewery as Forked River Brewing will soon start making suds here. Craft beer maker David Reed, an engineer by trade, is starting the business with Steve Nazarian and Andrew Peters, both microbiologists. The 3,000-square-foot brewery on Pacific Court will boast natural beer without preservatives and will not be pasteurized. It is expected to hit some local pubs and restaurants this spring. www.forkedriverbrewing.com
The Western Fair Farmers’ and Artisans’ Market , along with the help of some very talented local bakers, chefs and artisans of all types, from London and Stratford, will be celebrating all things maple with a specially created “Maple at the Market” programme featuring Kinehdn Maple Sugar Company’s award- winning syrup, throughout the month of March. There will also be hand-crafted maple wood products, soaps, candles and beauty products like The Meadow’s Maple Sugar Scrub and Maple Bud Cream.
Cheesemaker Ruth Klahsen has confirmed that Monforte Dairy is opening a restaurant in downtown Stratford. Monforte on Wellington is expected to open in early April, serving a selection of charcuterie, homemade preserves, pickles, cheese, Ontario beers and wines, and one or two daily changing pasta dishes prepared by Chef Phil Philips. Philip’s worked in the kitchen at Bijou and has trained under Jamie Kennedy. There will also be a small area attached to the restaurant, selling meats, cheeses, and jarred goods. www.monfortedairy.com
Tara Ott, founder of feed your body is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist who has studied at George Brown College, and with Caroline Dupont, on the art of raw food. Feed your body offers a unique personal chef service designed for people with food sensitivities and/or busy lifestyles. Tara also has a booth at the Covent Garden Farmers’ Market in London on Saturdays, May through November, and at the Slow Food Market in Stratford all year round. Her focus here is on gluten-free, vegan and raw. www.feedyourbody.ca
Savour Stratford Perth County GE Café Chefs Series:
Chef Tim Larsen, Mercer Hall Resto, Stratford, March 3;
Chef Ryan Crawford, Gastrohomestead, Niagara, April 14;
Chef Rob Rossi, Bestellen, Toronto April 21;
Join great Ontario chefs in a 3-hour cooking class in Stratford’s new GE Café Kitchen. Enjoy the dishes you create with a wine/beer pairing and take home recipes! 11 am–2 pm Local Community Food Centre, 612 Erie St., Stratford. $75 (+HST +handling fee) or save and register for 3 classes for only $210. 519-271-5140 www.visitstratford.ca/gechefs
Savour Stratford Tasting — Food Photography 101: You First Eat With Your Eyes. Professional photographer (boasting a cover photo on Canadian Geographic) and Stratford Chefs School graduate Terry Manzo leads an engaging afternoon exploring the art of food photography using pocket devices, phones and tablets. Bring your photo device for hands-on practice and become the best food photographer you know before sampling your tasty subjects. March 9, 3pm–4:30pm Cost: $20 (plus HST) Mercer Hall, 108 Ontario Street, Stratford. www.visitstratford.ca/tastings
Stratford Chefs School’s March Break Culinary Camp for students, and now for adults, too, March 11-15! Recreate recipes and menus from kitchens around the world in hands-on learning directed by some of the best trained chefs in the industry. Register for a day or for the whole week. www.stratfordchef.com
Create Your Own Signature Dish: Cooking Beyond the Recipe with Chef Ryan O’Donnell — March 17 and 24 at Your Local Market Co-op, 129 Downie Street, Stratford. For the intermediate home cook interested in growing their comfort level with improving a meal or creating a restaurant-style dish of their own, the two-part class will involve lessons in first conceptualizing and then cooking a dish using seasonal produce. Free. www.yourlocalmarketcoop.com
Savour Stratford Tasting: Beer & Cheese of the British Isles. Compare the distinct flavours of English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh cheese paired with beer from the same regions. Savour extraordinary pairings on March 30 at The Milky Whey Fine Cheese Shop www.themilkywhey.ca
Stratford’s The Parlour is offering a selection of unique small plates to share every Friday night during March from 5–8pm. Every week is unique! www.theparlour.ca
Slow Food Perth County Sunday Market has a new indoor location, The Local Community Food Centre, 612 Erie Street, Stratford. Shop from producers practicing good, clean and fair principles at this wonderful new facility. 10 am–2 pm through until May 1 when the market moves to Market Square at City Hall. www.slowfoodperthcounty.ca
Thursday night at Mercer Hall it’s Champagne and Oysters! Satisfy your oyster craving with $2 oysters and enjoy a lovely sparkling wine by the glass or bottle. www.mercerhall.com
Join the crew at Molly Blooms Stratford on a Thursday or Saturday for great specials and live entertainment including: Bill Craig, Mob Barley and Dan Stacey. Thursdays Molly Blooms features their famous All Day Steak Special. www.mollybloomsstratford.com
Foster’s Inn offers a wide selection of Winter Enticers: $5 daily breakfasts, Sammy & Side lunches for $9.99, weekday Lounge Lover 5 Appetizers @ $5 each after 5pm, and different dinner specials Sunday–Thursday through March. www.fostersinn.com
Foster’s Inn Winter Concert Series: Russell deCarle March 7, Jack de Keyzer March 21, Emma Lee April 4 and Stephen Fearing April 18. Dinner and concert $45. Dinner, concert and accommodation only $99 (based on double occupancy). www.fostersinn.com
The popular winter bistro dinner menu is back at Keystone Alley Café, 34 Brunswick St., Stratford. Enjoy two courses for $24.95 or three courses for $31.95. www.keystonealley.com
Stratford Salutes Spring at the annual Swan Parade weekend, April 6 -7. Restaurants offer weekend brunch specials, Swan Quest and free carriage rides in downtown. Sunday swan parade and family festivities along Lakeside Drive at William Allman Arena. www.visitstratford.ca/swans
Savour Stratford Maple Trail celebrates the taste of Ontario’s first crop of the season. Enjoy a self-guided taste of maple delights at various food shops and restaurants beginning this spring. www.visitstratford.ca/mapletrail. Savour Stratford Bacon and Ale and Chocolate Trails are available year round .
Stratford Farmers’ Market, in operation since 1855, is open year round. Fresh produce, crafts, meat and cheese. Stratford Rotary Complex-Agriplex, 353 McCarthy Rd., Stratford. Saturdays 7 am – 12 pm. www.stratfordfairgrounds.com
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