Sunday, September 8, 2013
This was our second year attending Feast of Fields, so we knew what to expect - excellent organic food and drinks and that's what we got! Organic Advocates - Feast of Fields event was held at Cold Creek Conservation Area in the Township of King. This is a beautiful area north of Toronto and we were again blessed with gorgeous weather by the weather gods!
We arrived about 20 minutes early and waited patiently in our vehicle to be let into the park. Once inside we parked, we went to check in at the media desk and get our wine glasses and napkins. Guests are also given a gift bag containing the Feast of Fields cookbook, magazines, a canning jar and coupons. Once registered we were off...
We started in section A - we tasted, photographed and talked to different vendors and chefs. A few stood out of course and those are the ones that required a repeat visit at the end of the day! Of all the food and drinks that we sampled in all three sections of the event (A, B & C) I really enjoyed...Richmond Stations's "Twice Baked all Reds with Spit Roasted Porchetta" (I think more so because Carl Heinrich prepared them himself for Edgar and I), La Brea Food's "Organic Bulgogi de Pollo Wontaco", Food in Motion's "Pulled Pork Risotto", Chef Wanda Beaver of Wanda's Pie in the Sky's - "Peach Torta Rustica", Mad Maple Country Inn's "Chocolate Chip Cookies" served with Harmony Organic Milk and Forage Restaurant's "Goat Cheese Bites with beets rolled in pistachios and drizzled with balsamic dressing. I can't forget Designer Cakes by Amy's "Apple Soft cake with Toasted Walnuts and Maple Cream Cheese Frosting"...so so good. All of these bites combined excellent organic ingredients with superior culinary skills to produce mouth watering deliciousness!
There were quite a few organic beverages to be sampled as well to whatever extent you wanted and lucky for me, Edgar was our designated driver which meant I got to really enjoy the beverage section of the event. Some of my favourite breweries - Steam Whistle Brewery and Mill Street Brewery were their to fill up our glasses - well, my glass at least! As were some new craft breweries that I had never tried like Spearhead Brewery - their Hawaiian Style Pale Ale is brewed with pineapple which I found absolutely delicious.
Vineland Estates Winery, Lailey Vineyard, Reimer Vineyards Winery and Sandbanks Estate Winery (just a few) were showcasing their organic wines. And let's just say that they were delicious!
Meeting BBQ Kingpin - Ted Reader was fabulous...Chef Reader is a fun, boisterous chef with amazing recipes. I bought his newest cookbook "Gastro Grilling" and had it signed by Chef Reader. The other highlight of Feast of Fields for me was doing an interview with Carl Heinrich (Top Chef Canada Season 2 winner). We met Carl last year at Feast of Fields and thought he was just a great guy. This year's event allowed us to spend more time with Carl which only reinforced my belief that he's a sweetheart. Carl gave us an interview and took the time to talk to us.
Overall, I would say that this year's Organic Advocates - Feast of Fields (their 24th) was a stellar success. The food was outstanding, the drinks wonderful and the star factor was just right! Can't wait to return to the 25th celebration!
In his opinion:
I'm sometimes reminded that the word Organic gets thrown around a lot in everyday food chats and many times without the proper value that it deserves. I admit that I'm not nearly as much of an Organic consumer as I should be and events like this put many things in perspective for me, especially the importance of it.
While chatting with Carl Heinrich this year, I heard him say something that really struck a chord with me. I wasn't even aware that might be looked at that way, so it was a bit of an enlightenment to hear him say it. He said..."We don't chose to buy organic just because it's organic, we buy organic because the products are just better" And that's exactly how I would describe this event...People don't attend this event because "organic" is in or they are following some fad, we are all just searching for great tasting products and in this event you will absolutely find Ontario's best.
Organization was very good this year, from the parking, to registration and all the way to the "sections" division of the vendors . Everything was easy to find and seemed to have a good flow no matter where you started your tasting rounds. The variety was once again commendable and left no taste unfulfilled with a sea of varied vendors for every taste, thirst and palate.
The drink department was well taken care of and because I was the designated driver, my partner in crime was well aware of the importance of having to sample every drink, sometimes twice to get a proper idea and opinion of what was being offered. I'm happy to report that she accomplished this arduous task like a champion.
In the food side of things there were so many good vendors that it would take me all night to talk about my experiences with all of them. Instead, I will pick some of the highlights and low-lights (if any) to be highlighted in the next few lines. I will start with my overall favourite which ended up being La Brea Foods with their Mexican with everything Asian fusion concept. In this day the chosen Asian food was Korean, and specifically Bulgogi-style Yorkshire Valley Farms Organic chicken filling in the Korean Chicken Taco baskets dish. Besides the amazing concept, it just tasted amazingly fresh and delicious. It was a popular spot for many and Chef Trevor Lui was a busy and happy man this day.
A close second went to Richmond Station with their "Twice Baked Reds with Spit Roasted Porchetta". It was served on a half potato skin, baked and fried for a contrast in texture that just worked perfectly. Mixed in was the Indian yogurt inspired dish cucumber Raita but using Japanese cucumbers and arugula. I went there for seconds...and maybe thirds, it was that good. The crowds formed around this vendor for the most part of the day which also tells the story of how good these samples were.
Some outstanding food notables were Arbour Restaurant's "Braised Lamb Shank Balls", some perfectly cooked lamb if I ever saw any. Food in Motion's "Pulled Pork Risotto" was delectable and left you wanting more and more.
These were some of the vendors that served the best food/products and coincidentally the busiest ones also. A special mention goes to Ted Reader for his great BBQ display, welcoming manner and his larger than life personality.
In the dessert department, Wanda's Pie in the Sky with their "Peach Torta Rustica" was a clear favourite. These bite size delights had it all, taste, texture and flavour. Designer Cakes by Amy (one of the more locals vendors) served Apple Soft Cake with Toasted Walnuts and Maple Cream Cheese Frosting and these samples were to die for, making it a great reason to visit Caledon and her shop.
The experience of attending was a great one and it felt bigger, better and tastier than last year in my humble opinion. This event just seems to outshine itself year and after year, bringing some of the best organic growers and the chefs that utilize those same products in perfect harmony and taste in one spot. Kudos to the organizers that got everything right from the well placed "facilities" to the wonderful entertainment throughout.
The final chefs' picture serves to explain the magnitude that this event has reached and shows the commitment they have and the involvement they embrace to be able to utilize local (to them) organic products in their restaurants and daily lives. Can't wait for next year...