Friday, 27 September 2013

Savour Stratford - A Quick Overview

Savour Stratford Perth County Culinary Festival
Stratford, ON

September 20 - 22, 2013

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In her opinion:
How would I describe my experiences at this year's Savour Stratford Perth County Culinary Festival? In a word...AWESOME! It helped reinforce my belief that we are indeed a global community and the world of food and drink is innovative, exciting and of course, delectable. Savour Stratford's theme this year of "globally inspired, locally grown" proved that any culture's cuisine can be made using locally grown products.

The Fanshawe College opening night highlighted cuisine from Latin America, Europe, Jamaica, Canada and Vietnam using local ingredients. This was executed wonderfully. The college, the chefs and the culinary students did an amazing job.

The celebrity chef factor was just right at this year's Savour Stratford...big names like Vikram Vij, Roger Mooking, Naomi Duguid, Mara Salles graced the Toronto Star Culinary Stage along with local favourites Tim Larsen and Sean Collins (their modernist Hollandaise was truly impressive as was their cured pig heart). Throughout the weekend different chefs gave different cooking demonstration about the many different flavours of this world including Burma, Trinidad, India, Peru, Brazil, Mexico and Asian.

The farmer's market provided excellent locally grown produce, foods like pickled items and fresh breads, crafts and delicious eats. We managed to find some amazing walnut sourdough bread from Downie Street Bake House and awesome plums in the rain.

The Taste of Ontario Artisan Alley provided 10 VQA wines, 10 craft beers, 10 artisan cheese with 5 cask beers to sample. This was a perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon of sampling.

Vikram Vij graced the City Hall Learning Centre with his expertise on "Hot Food, Cold Wine". Once told that you could never pair wine correctly with Indian food, Vikram went on to pass his sommelier exam and successfully pair wine with his absolutely delicious Indian cuisine. Guests were treated to Vij's food and two excellent choices of wine from Chateau des Charmes.

Unfortunately, a personal issue kept us from attending Savour Stratford's Sunday events but Edgar has provided a detailed account of the day below.

Savour Stratford Perth County Culinary Festival is a great foodie/craft beer/wine lover venue. It provides a plethora of events for every taste. I was honoured to have been asked to cover this fabulous event and would like to thank Susan Willemsen and Renee Lalonde of the Siren Group and Cathy Rehberg of Stratford Tourism for the opportunity and all their help.

In his opinion:
First of all, let me get his out of the way...I love Stratford! It is a city that caters to many likes and desires, mixing the arts, culture with an ever-growing outstanding culinary scene. Even though my visits are mainly to the Theatre for my fix of live performances, I do once in a while take advantage of the fabulous food scene in Stratford. I have even blogged about a couple of restaurants, with so many other great ones still to try.

Savour Stratford makes total sense as a food event in our area and its growth in popularity and magnitude attest to that fact. This year was bigger and better than ever and I was very excited to be able to cover it and somewhat be a part of it.

Day 1- The opening ceremonies were the highlight of this first night. Before that could take place there was already a lot happening at the Fanshawe College tent situated along the river, where culinary students were busy displaying foods from around the world. Inside the tent you could find food "stalls" from Vietnam, Canada, Latin America, Europe and Jamaica. This is where the students and chefs showcased and served world food made with local ingredients, tying this event to the overall theme of Savour Stratford of "globally inspired, locally grown".

The formal ribbon cutting ceremony was the culminating event of the evening but it didn't stop there as there were many parties and gatherings happening all over the city after the ribbon cutting. You can click HERE to read in detail our day 1 reporting post.

Day 2- This was an exciting day as there was so much going on all over the downtown area and even a bit of rain did not keep anyone away. Highlights of this day were the the "Taste of Ontario Artisan Alley" where 10 artisan cheese makers, 10 VQA wineries and 10 craft beer displayed and made available their products for some free sampling or purchased tastings. The venue spanned 3 massive tents located directly behind city hall and was very well organized and presented.

The other big events going on through out the day were the cooking demonstrations by celebrity chefs. In the same tent as Friday's Fanshawe College demonstration, the Toronto Star Culinary Stage was set-up to allow the celebrity chefs to show us some tricks of their trade. Naomi Duguid, Mara Salles from Brazil, Sean Collins and the very charismatic Tim Larsen carried the "local" proverbial torch as the Stratford Chefs. Special mention to Food Network's Roger Mooking that wowed the audiences with his engaging presence. Unfortunately, there were no performances by MC Mystic, Roger's alter ego but it was all about the food anyway.

Celebrity Chef Vikram Vij held an impromptu demonstration to the attending media before he cooked and amazed 40 guests to a traditional Indian lunch at the Local Community Food Centre.

The Farmer's Market (stalls situated along the river on both sides of the road) that showcased local ingredients, growers, crafts and some local food establishments was a big hit. Crowds walked up and down the street, buying good products, trying some good food, enjoying the beer tent and listening to some music being played live by a variety of artist throughout the day.

Day 3- Sunday kicked off with 5 panelists presented Women in Food Breakfast brought to you by Chatelaine. Chef Yva Santini presented an always intriguing topic as she showcased Mozzarella, an Italian tradition done Stratford style. Chef Vikram Vij took the stage at 11 AM to showcase Indian cuisine and his take on it.

We will not comment on the performance of the Spice Girls tribute band (Wannabe) for a plethora of reasons but especially because we actually didn't witness it. 

Other main highlights of the day were the Savour Stratford Tasting presented by Scotiabank. We all know that this was the event that many people anticipated and it didn't disappoint. This year's winners were:

*Best meat dish: Awarded to Stratford’s Mercer Hall chefs, Tim Larsen and Sean Collins paired with Fred and Ingrid de Martines of Perth Pork Products to create A Taste of Wild Boar.
*Best vegetarian dish: Awarded to Canadian Grub to Go where chef Robert Rose paired with Oak Grove Cheese created Ontario grains arancini.

*Best dessert: Awarded to Your Local Market Co-op chefs Tyson Everitt and Katelyn Vere paired with local dairy products presented a Harvest moon cookie, a fall twist on the Bengali dessert rasgulla.
*Most creative dish: Awarded to Aboriginal Culinary Concepts chef, Richard Francis paired with Sheldon Berries presented a Blueberry-cured salmon with pickled blueberries on bannock toast.
*Best alcohol beverage: Awarded to Revel Caffè, where Anne Campion paired with coffee roasters, Las Chicas Del Café to create Café con piquete.
*Best beverage: Tea Leaves Tea Bar, where tea sommelier Karen Hartwick paired with local forager Peter Blush of Puck’s Plenty to brew a Digestive fire tonic.
*GE Café People’s Choice: Awarded to Molly Blooms Irish Pub chef, Chris Huggins paired with Brendon Lyoness of Caveman Crops to create a fresh peach salsa with roasted jalapeno chevre.
There were again more demonstrations with Naomi Duguid presenting Food and Markets of Bruma and Francesco Alejandri showcasing Mexican food. There were plenty of other things going on from concerts to children's activities and even wine related workshops. A jam packed day with something for everyone led to the closing of the event late into the afternoon.

Savour Stratford event excels in amazing food, craft beer, wine, music and much more. Its reach and appeal grows every year and only gets bigger and better. If by any chance there was some reason why you did not attend this event previously or this year, you MUST mark it on your calendar for next year and come discover why Stratford is so much more than Shakespeare. 
See you next year!

1 comment:

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