Monday, 10 September 2012

Organic Advocates' Feast of Fields

Organic Advocates' Feast of Fields
Cold Creek Conservation Area
Sunday, September 9, 2012

In her opinion:
Cold Creek Conservation Area is off the beaten path in the beautiful countryside north of Toronto. It is a sprawling park with great vistas. This was the perfect setting for Organic Advocates' annual Feast of Fields event. 

As we drove up the 400 and got off on the King City road, I wondered if we were actually headed in the right direction or were we about to get lost in north of Toronto. However, when I saw the first Feast of Fields' sign indicating we were headed in the right direction, I felt a certain sense of relief and excitement.

Parking was a breeze. Once you parked your vehicle, you got your ticket, wine glass, linen napkin and great gift bag containing some coupons, magazines and the 23rd annual Feast of Fields cookbook. You were now ready to head out into organic food and drink heaven!

At first, I was overwhelmed by how many different food, drinks and vendors stalls there were. Not necessarily a bad thing! Once I got my bearings, it was simply a matter of grabbing my linen napkin and wine glass and going from stall to stall sampling delicious organic food and drink. Organic farmers, breweries, winemakers, artisans and fabulous chefs worked together to produce an amazing event!

I was completely full by the time I left the event, but there were a few food stalls that held a special place in my memory. First there was Harmony Organic's "Praline Ice Parfait with Fruit Compote". Absolutely delicious. Mad Maple's "Carrot Cake cupcakes with a candied carrot on top". Probably the best carrot cake I have ever eaten. Wanda's Pie in the Sky " Apple Cheesecake Pie" was out of this world good! Chef Carl Heinrich from the not yet open Richmond Station's "Potato Rosti with Wild Boar Rilette and Beet Relish" was outstanding. It also made me realize why Chef Heinrich won Top Chef Canada Season 2! Chef Michael Smith and Sodexo produced a delicious "Venison and Blueberry Burger with Onion Confit, Applewood Cheddar on a Sourdough Baguette". This was probably one of the most flavourful bites that I had at the event. It was complex and delicious. Finally, I remember Chef Albert Ponzo of Le Select Bistro and his absolutely delicious "Steelhead Gravlax with Quinoa, Aubergine and Black Olive Mayo" fondly. These were perfect little bites of organic goodness.

There were tonnes of different foods to pick from and to enjoy to your hearts content. We sampled a lot and enjoyed a lot. Overall, as far as food was concerned, this was top notch!

In regards to different organic drinks, they had several wineries specializing in organic wine. One of my new favourites, Sandbanks Estate Winery was there with their delicious blends. I also had a few of my favourite craft beers; Creemore SpringsMill Street Organic and Steam Whistle Pilsner. But the most poignant part of the event for me in the organic drink field was sampling Black Fly Spirit Beverage's "Long Island Iced Tea" and "Tequila Margarita"! This is a proudly Canadian company serving excellent beverages.

Like the food, there were a lot of organic drink selections to pick from and enjoy to whatever extent you wanted!

The 23rd annual Feast of Fields event was a great experience to enjoy organic food, drink and artisan wares. The artisan goods that I sampled were some amazing sheep's milk cheese from Best Baa Dairy and delicious elk venison pepperettes and summer sausage from Black Willow Farms. These products reinforce my belief that we are very fortunate as Canadians to have these wonderful organic, artisan farms producing some exceptional products. As a foodie, Feast of Fields was a great experience to really enjoy more non-traditional organic meats like venison, elk and wild boar. As well, it allowed me to sample and buy, organic produce which were super fresh and radiated their colours in the afternoon sun beautifully. Making me realize that Ontario's organic farmers should be proud!

On a personal note, the highlights of the events for me besides the wonderful food and drinks were getting to meet Chef Michael Smith who I've watched on the Food Network since he started with his show "The Inn Chef". Chef Smith is a gentle giant! He's a genuinely nice person who was kind enough to sign two of his cookbooks that I purchased at the event. The other highlight was meeting Chef Carl Heinrich, winner of Top Chef Canada's season two. What a sweetheart. He's extremely talented but also has a great personality. Chef Heinrich took some time out from preparing his amazing little bits and actually talked to us about food! Great guy.This is the beauty of Feast of Fields, everyone there loves organic produce, meat and drinks and what you can do with it!

I enjoyed our experience at Organic Advocates' Feast of Fields events and would not hesitate to participate in the following years!

In his opinion:
It is hard to believe but this event is already in its 23rd year and it's amazing to see how it has grown, along with the love for organic food. I'm sure that even Jamie Kennedy, Michael Standlander and co. couldn't imagine the magnitude that this event has taken, when they formed this non-profit organization, back in 1989. King City and Cold Creek Conservation Area was the perfect location to showcase this event with its great ambiance and lush outdoor spaces. As you first drive into the event, you couldn't help but feel that the event was very well organized and very inviting. It ran from 1 PM to 5 PM on Sunday, September 9, 2012.

This event let's you experience the very best of what Ontario has to offer as far as organic products are concerned! It lets you hear the secrets right from the people that produce them, with hard work and a lot of love. The variety of products available is truly amazing and ranges from organic fruit and organic vegetables from all over the province to some home grown meat spanning from beef, lamb, bison and even wild boar, and some of the best wine and beer that our Province has to offer.

There seemed to be a little bit of everything for everyone with any discerning taste. The variety of food, wine and beer was extensive and gave the public a chance to try and re-try their favourites over and over if they wished. The reactions from the public as they tasted the extensive food and drinks were of sheer exuberance and delight.

The event is not just about food and drink but also about the people that bring them to you! Those people had a lot to say and share. Every person showcasing their products had not only their story to tell, but a genuine love for what they did that was very transparent as they explained their products. It is that passion that fuels the organic movement that grows stronger and bigger year after year.

Then, there are the chefs! They are like minded and environmentally concerned. They support the event and bring not only their expertise but the flare that compliments these products. This year's celebrity chefs included Michael Smith that has become a staple at this event, and others like Canada's Top Chef 2 winner Carl Heinrich, food entertainer Ted Reader and Emerie Bryne from Bernardin. Many other chefs also brought their culinary skills to enhance the amazing products on display and were also part of the experience, giving food lovers lots to chat about and admire.

I suppose what surprised me the most was the sophistication of the food served, along with the complexity that is not usual from pop-up tents, small gas ovens or open air flame BBQ's. The food, drinks, chefs, farmers and the organizations were all top notch and have to be congratulated for a job very well done. I would risk saying that all in attendance left very satisfied, including Tara Iacurti, from Paris On., the winner of the soup recipe contest with her "pumpkin patch soup".

In summary, if you love good food, great wine, amazing local micro breweries and you are an organic lover at heart, then this is a must attend event for you. I myself can't wait for next year's installment.

  Le Sélect Bistro on Urbanspoon  Wanda's Pie in the Sky on Urbanspoon  Richmond Station on Urbanspoon

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