Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Literary Snack



Poetry dripped from his lips. Chris was in my Romantic Poetry class and he had this massive head of blond, cherubic curls that accompanied his blue eyes in a beautiful, yet cliché manner. Each time he spoke about the poem we were discussing, whether it was Keats or Wordsworth, my mind completely imploded into a billion pieces, completely missing everything he said. One day after class I actually mustered up the courage to talk to him. As we walked through the campus quad with coffees in hand, I realized that I had no chance with this guy. He was impossibly enigmatic and sickeningly sweet at the same time. I knew I was doomed. A week after our casual après-class walk, I saw Chris chatting up a lithe brunette across from the library. I never spoke to Chris again after that – I guess sometimes you just know when to quit before you’re ahead.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What I'm Watching...



Our Daily Bread
A film by Nikolaus Geyrhalter


This film won the following awards:
1)Grand Prize Paris Eco Film Fest
2)Best Film Athens Ecocinema
3)Special Jury Award International Documentary Film Fest Amsterdam


I will spare you the most gruesome slaughterhouse images from this film, but consider this my disclaimer that there are some unpleasant descriptions to follow.

As I inserted this film into the DVD player, I was not entirely prepared for what was to follow. What I viewed was a stark, clinical and minimalist display of the industrialization of food, peppered with shots of what I consider to be animal cruelty. Now, having said this, yes I have blogged about dishes that involve meat and poultry -- I am not a vegetarian or a vegan, but I do respect and love animals.

I admit, I do not know much about Nikolaus Geyrhalter. I applaud his efforts to bring the subject of the industrialization of our food to light, especially in such a unique manner, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend this film to everyone. In the style of half documentary, half art film, there is little to no audible dialogue heard throughout. At times attempting to be the "Baraka" for the topic of food production, this film provides many jarring images, including the somewhat gratuitous "baby chick scene" those of us who are familiar with Baraka have seen before. Many scenes in the film were enough to make me never want to eat meat again and I had to fast forward through a few portions because I simply love animals too much.

When people finally entered the frame, they seemed to me to be heartless, automated factory workers with no regard for animals' lives. Set to a mechanical soundtrack of machines and factories, the film at times lulls you to sleep, and at other times opens your eyes to the industrialization process that our food has undergone over the years in order to put food on the plate internationally.

One scene shows the teasing of male cows -- just when they think they're going to have some "intimate time" with a female cow, they get the wind knocked out of their sails by a sperm pump. Whatever happened to letting cows reproduce naturally? Another scene shows animals jailed in pens like they've done something wrong, pelted with grain feed by a machine that shoots their food into their cages. Brutal is the word that comes to mind.

When the monotony onscreen is once again broken, this time it is not by gruesome images of animals -- we actually see people working the land. However, because of demand and the advances of technology, they have a machine between them and the soil. With no real connection to the land, these workers drive down rows of wheat and corn like they're on a paved highway commuting to work. Another worker is shown walking through the chicken coop, which seems like a scene from a maximum security prison with caged animals yelling at him, starving to be free. In the context of the message of this film, even the image of a tree shaken violently by a machine to release its nuts makes you shudder.

If you are constantly searching for more and more literature, film, web content and other sources of food education, then I would recommend watching this film. I didn't personally understand why it won so many awards, but perhaps it was for the unique style which was more like an art installation than a film in my opinion. Geyrhalter does shock you and wake you up to how food is grown, processed, farmed and fished and for that I applaud him. Although he never overtly proposes a point of view, simply watching some of the gut-wrenching scenes implies that he is trying to make the world think about what they're eating.

Halfway through this film, I found myself wishing for a happy ending and hoping it would come soon. It never did. I imagined an ending with contrasting images of happy, healthy families visiting farmers' markets and small farms, then sitting down to a meal of locally sourced, naturally raised food. The film never shows you this happy ending, but it is up to us to make it happen in our daily lives.

That's my film review for today, I promise not every food film I watch will be serious and depressing! I plan to screen some more food films over the colder months and share them with you soon!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Rustic Roast Chicken and Pinot Noir

Last night I enjoyed a rustic, comforting fall dinner of roast chicken. I actually used a fryer chicken that was about 3.5 lbs, surrounded it with potatoes, carrots and shallots, and roasted it at 375 for about 1.5 hours in a convection oven. Before roasting, I used a trick I've seen on Food Network and put some herbs and butter underneath the skin of the bird to provide more flavour.



Herbs I used were: Italian parsley, chives, purple basil and parsley. I also sprinkled them on top of the bird and drizzled olive oil over the entire chicken before roasting.





To accompany the chicken dinner were roasted stuffed tomatoes and some crusty Ciabatta loaf dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. For the tomatoes you will need:

  • 2 large tomatoes
  • parmigiano reggiano or other hard, grating cheese (grana padano, romano)
  • breadcrumbs
  • 2 scallions
  • fresh herbs
  • salt and pepper
  • you could also add bacon if you like

Scoop the seeds out of the tomatoes and save in a nearby bowl. The result should be two tomatoes that look like mini-bowls themselves. Mix all other ingredients with the meat of the tomatoes in the bowl and then stuff the empty "tomato-bowls" with the mixture. Roast for about 10 minutes or more, watching to see when the tomato skin starts to look cooked. Then top with more breadcrumbs and cheese and broil until crispy and brown.



With this fall meal, the wine consumed was Louis Latour 2007 Pinot Noir from Beaune in Cote d'Or, France. This light pinot was a perfect choice for a chicken dinner. You could also go with a Beaujolais though, it would be a bit more fruity but still light and complimentary to the roast chicken.




It was a tasty meal perfect for a rainy September evening.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Literary Snack

A while back, I wrote some fun little character sketches based on interesting characters I'd encountered in my life. I recently realized I ended up referencing food or drink in almost every one without planning to do so!

I hope you enjoy this light reading as you curl up on a rainy fall day with your beverage of choice. The fantastic accompanying sketches were done by my talented sister, Wendy Heagney-Bakewell of WHDesigns.

So, without further ado, I bring you the first literary snack:



I met James at a wine-tasting party organized by my friend Heidi. He spent summers in France, had a fabulously lean body, smoked too many cigarettes and could give a complete dissertation on Bordeaux. My first impression of him was that he was an arrogant trust fund baby who would spend the entire night looking over my shoulder for the next hot blonde who entered the room. But James surprised me when I realized he was spending more time listening to me and gazing into my eyes than glancing around the room. Normally I would have still had my guard up, assuming he was a player, but I had to admit this brilliant blue eyed monster was winning me over. After 3 glasses of a robust Cab-Merlot and about 30 minutes of witty repartee with James, I was hooked. Before long we were out on Heidi’s terrace, making out like teenagers. To say that he was a good kisser would be an understatement. I guess all those summers in France had paid off.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Wisconsin Cheese Cupid


photo credit: jtuason on flickr

Short but sweet today, I thought I would share something with you that I found online. This cheese pairing website is the cutest thing! Wisconsin Cheese Cupid provides pairing suggestions for many types of cheeses with wine, beer and liquor. I instantly went to Syrah, and was pleased that they paired it with Gruyere, which has been a pairing I have enjoyed many times in the past. The site lead me to the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board website, which had quite a variety of information about cheese and some beautiful photos.

So, when you are having a drink tonight, why not try out some of their suggested cheese pairings? I know I will!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What I'm Reading: Fast Food Nation



Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal
By Eric Schlosser


Although it was published 8 years ago (and is largely based on the U.S.) Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation is still frighteningly relevant today even in Canada. Yes, this book is 8 years old, so I am sure if you are a consumer of food-related literature you may have already read it. Perhaps you saw the Richard Linklater film based on this book, and if so, I strongly suggest you give the book a read because it delves much deeper into the world behind fast food in America than the film. (Plus it's much less jarring to read about the meat processing plants than to see depictions of their operations on screen).

Along with many others I've been reading, I believe this book will change the way you think about food, in this case, fast food (and yes, this does include Subway and Tim Horton's). I know, some people don’t want to change the way they think about food. They don’t want think about it at all --they just want to eat it. I totally respect that. However, if you are going to start digging into more conscious food choices, this book should be in your library.

Schlosser's book doesn't just talk about the food itself and what we as North Americans are putting into our bodies, he also discusses North America (specifically the U.S.) as a whole, discussing financial, political, cultural and human issues. This speaks volumes with respect to so many choices we are making as consumers today, with fast food purchases only being one piece of the pie. Here is a slice of some of the reality this book serves up:

“A survey of American schoolchildren found that 96 percent could identify Ronald McDonald. The only fictional character with a higher degree of recognition was Santa Claus. The impact of McDonald’s on the way we live today is hard to overstate. The Golden Arches are now more widely recognized than the Christian cross”(page 4).

Wow. I think that quote speaks for itself. There were so many other quotes I wanted to include in this review (my book had more dog ears than a Minister's Bible), but rather than regurgitate Schlosser's work, I'd rather you read it for yourself.



Much like Morgan Spurlock's Super Size Me film, Fast Food Nation (the book) uses a modern style and cuts right to the core of the issues. Schlosser also provides so much history and insight into the fast food world, and the connections between American cultural history and the rise of fast food in general. I was shocked at the number of examples in the book that proved the power of fast food in American history and how it blazed trails with endorsement deals, movie marketing and product development. In some ways, the fast food industry (especially McDonald's),shaped the way many companies advertise their products today.

Although this book is a little longer than a casual summer read, trust me, it'll fly by if you're interested in the topic. Schlosser's writing style is quick and compelling and drives you to learn more as you go along. He originally started writing about the topic for Rolling Stone Magazine, and it ended up becoming a book that he spent 3 years researching.

Schlosser really gets to the heart of the human stories involved in fast food culture and he doesn't mince words. From providing an inside view of Walt Disney, to sharing the heart wrenching story of a man named Kenny who literally sacrificed his life to prepare the meat that goes into your Big Mac, Schlosser puts you inside the fast food world and shows you the effect it is having on the people involved.

Interestingly enough, one amusing fact I learned while reading this book was that Today Show weatherman Willard Scott was the first guy ever to put on a Ronald McDonald suit, but they eventually fired him because they wanted someone thinner to sell the fries.



*While researching for this review, I read some uplifting news about the relationship between Disney and McDonald's. So, 8 years after Schlosser wrote the book, some real change is finally happening.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

My Taste of Little Italy




On the weekend I attended the Taste Little Italy Wine & Food Show, as part of La Vendemmia, Ottawa's 13th Annual Celebration of Italian Wine and Food. When I arrived, the line was right out the door, as foodies and winos alike were anxious to get inside and start tasting. Once inside, the grand hall in Sala San Marco was already buzzing with activity--people everywhere you turned were gulping back wines, noshing on Italian dishes, enjoying scrumptious desserts and even dancing from table to table to the lively beats of local band, Espresso.




I tasted a few wines myself as well as partook in some of the local culinary treats. Especially savoury were the oysters from Big Easy's and the Applewood Smoked Cheddar from Nicastro's. I washed down my Italian treats with a few different wines; most notably Montalto Pinot Grigio and Antinori Peppoli Chianti Classico.



Included in the ticket was an invitation to go next door to DiVino and their 2nd annual Olive Oil Showcase. Antonio and his friends had a variety of olive oils available to taste and purchase, and he was screening an educational video in his tasting room.



The olive oil vendors were very informative and fun to chat with -- I left with a bottle of Fragranza Novella Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Sicily. Rachael Ray would be proud.



I enjoyed my little taste of Little Italy that day and look forward to attending more events at La Vendemmia next year.

Ciao!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Update on Harvest Time Game and its Creator



After my post about the cooperative game Harvest Time, I struck up an email correspondence with its creator, Jim Deacove. Now in his 70s, Jim and his wife Ruth are still enjoying the fruits and veggies of their labour, and the family business is still churning out cooperative games. If you're interested in purchasing any games, simply email info@familypastimes.com and request a catalog.



Jim was a little camera shy, so respecting his privacy I agreed to chat with him over email. He told me they also have a Farmers' Market game based on the Perth Farmers' Market and that my Harvest Time game is now a collector's item.

Even now, Jim and Ruth are still avid organic gardeners, but it all started forty years ago:

"We were part of the back to the land wave some forty years ago. This farm was abandoned when we came here from Manitoba. It has provided us with vegetables, fruit, herbs and the pleasure of beautiful scenery and inspiring creatures of all kinds."

Jim gave a positive report on this summer's progress on the farm:

"Rain and compost have worked miracles this year along with an electric fence I installed to keep out raccoons, deer, groundhogs, rabbits, chipmunks.We had to send our grandson climbing up the sunflower stalk to place a warning light for low flying aircraft."

Although Jim is "Getting close to hanging up (his) spade, hoe and basket", he and Ruth still enjoy their farm and the bounty it produces. Apparently they are into canning as well as they are ready for the winter months:

"2010 may be coming very soon, but we are ready with pickles,
salsa, potatoes, herbs, dried fruit, fresh pure water, wood for the stove and a toboggan for recreation."




What an amazing example of art imitating life, as Jim has created a game that mirrors his own annual farming experiences. After all these years there still seems to be a lot of love on the Deacove farm:

"Ah, one of Ruth's fresh tomatoes is to die for."

Saturday, September 19, 2009

I Finally Caved......

I'm on Twitter! Just search for aftertheharvest and you'll find me! I can't believe I finally caved......


cute twitter-themed picture via bubblefriends on flickr

Friday, September 18, 2009

Thank You!


Today I was inspired to express my gratitude to everyone who has visited After the Harvest.

So....thank you! The site has officially been up for 1 month and 1 week, and I couldn't be happier or more excited to continue sharing all kinds of food and wine related stories with you all!

There's a lot more to come so stay tuned!

Don't be afraid to comment after a post or even join as a follower to keep up to date with everything "post harvest" :) I welcome your comments because I want to hear others' thoughts about some of the food issues or fun food and drink tidbits I've been sharing. What are your food experiences!

You can also email me at aftertheharvest@gmail.com

Here's to a weekend full of fantastic food and drink!

Cheers,
Heather


Enjoying a pint at The Mad House in beautiful Thunder Bay, ON, 2007.

Quick Taste: Jacob's Creek Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon


Wine: Jacob's Creek Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon -- (2005) -- 14% alcohol -- $16.95

Look: dark red, almost a blood red colour, deep, can't see through it, medium viscosity

Nose: plum, black currant, red berries, spice, tobacco, vanilla

Palate: light to medium bodied, high acidity, medium tannins, medium finish

Overall: A good red, subtle aromas and flavours. Good with a steak, or any red meat dish. I tasted it with some old cheddar which was a great combination.



Sidenote: The bottle said that this was a "full-bodied wine". I disagree. It was deep and dark in colour, but the mouthfeel was a lot lighter than I would have guessed. It did not taste rich enough to be considered full-bodied in my opinion. It was also interesting to note that this wine has won many awards.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

5 Questions with Dala


*All photos courtesy of Dala

An emerging sound on the Canadian music scene, Dala is one of the most talented singer/songwriter teams I've seen perform live. Otherwise known as Sheila Carabine and Amanda Walther, Dala had me hooked right away with their beautiful harmonies, so I wondered how they stay healthy and performance-ready while essentially living on the road. The women of Dala agreed to answer 5 questions about their relationship to food as touring musicians:

After the Harvest (ATH): Have you found it difficult to eat whole, nutritious foods while on the road? How do you avoid fast food?

Dala: It is definitely a challenge to maintain a balanced diet when you're touring. Meal times are all pushed back. The schedule on the road is such that your day starts at noon, sound check is later in the afternoon, and the show itself usually interferes with dinner. A lot of the time we are too nervous to eat before we go on stage, but the adrenaline rush of performing leaves us ravenously hungry after the show.

That's the moment of truth for most performers I think, where your will-power is tested. On our first tour opening for Tom Cochrane it took a while before we realized that we were filling up on salty snacks after almost every show. It was part of the post-show celebrations, but that starts to adds up on a three week tour. We have learned to ‘just say no’ to junk food whenever we can, and to eat lots of fruits and vegetables when we feel like snacking.


Amanda with some very large fruit

ATH: Do you have any special beverages that serve as "Dala magic elixirs" to keep those beautiful voices fresh?

Dala: We drink a lot of tea and honey on the road. My personal favourite is TAZO Green Ginger tea. Amanda starts drinking hot water an hour before the show. We both drink twice as much water as we would when we’re not on tour, and we also bring mini-humidifiers with us for the hotel. That makes a difference, as hotel rooms tend to be pretty dry.

ATH: What is the one food you could not go without on the road?

Dala: I love soup. It is so cozy and comforting and light on your stomach. Amanda likes fruit, granola and yogurt in the morning. That’s her staple. We both love to sample local cuisine. Amanda usually dives into the less-healthy department (ie. Halifax’s 'Donairs' and Memphis’ 'Rendez-Vous Ribs')


Sheila and her cappuccino, dreaming of soup

ATH: Do you have time to check out farmers' markets or local foods in the different cities you visit while on tour? If not, do you have any favourite restaurants in any specific cities?

Dala: When we were in Fredericton on the Matthew Good tour we were staying across the road from a great Saturday farmer’s market. It was amazing to wander through the stalls and see all the fresh fruit and veggies. You also get a sense of the community, which is a treat when you're on a whirlwind tour.

ATH: Any favourite recipes you wish to share with the readers?

Amanda’s Homemade Almond Granola

Ingredients

-3 cups of rolled oats (preferably not instant oats)
-1 cup coarsely chopped raw almonds (or whole, according to preference)
-3/4 cup pumpkin seeds
-1/2 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
-1/4 cup flax meal
-1 cup of hot, melted honey

* Feel free to be creative with the ingredients. Every batch can be different. Add any other nuts, seeds or grains to taste. For raisins, cranberries and other fruits, add after the granola has baked and cooled.

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven at 350 degrees
2. In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients
3. Slowly add hot honey while mixing thoroughly 4. Spread thinly ( 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick) onto a lightly greased (with olive oil) cookie sheet
5. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown
6. Remove from oven:
a)For crunchy granola, allow to cool completely before removing from pan
b) For soft granola, remove while still warm

Makes two batches




If you haven't yet heard the singing/songwriting talents of Dala, take a listen here, or you can check them out on video here. My current favourite song is their heartbreakingly sad and hauntingly beautiful ballad, Horses.

Many thanks to Sheila and Amanda for sharing their talents, their time and their thoughts on food!

Sommelier Brings Italy to Ottawa



Have you ever been to an olive oil tasting? I didn't even know they existed until I met Antonio Mauriello, Sommelier/Owner of DiVino Wine Studio and Enoteca. Turns out an olive oil tasting is very much like a wine tasting, with swirling, smelling and of course, tasting. Antonio and the friendly folks at DiVino don't just do olive oil tastings though. They also have wine tastings, cooking classes, wine education, events, scotch tastings, cheese seminars and a wine bar!




But wait -- that's not all! Antonio will actually take you to Italy twice a year (and arrange the travel and accommodations) where you'll sip and savour culinary delights while touring wineries, kitchens and the beautiful Italian countryside. Next month he's off to Piemonte and Toscana but I was able to sit down with him recently to chat about everything DiVino.

Antonio came to Canada in 1998 from Rome, Italy. He met his Canadian wife in Rome and the rest is history. Although his day job was in the tech industry, he had been trained as a Sommelier, so the natural progression was to share his passion for Italian food and wine with Ottawa. His main goal was to bring the daily passion for food and wine that he experienced in Italy into the lives of Canadians.



DiVino is participating in La Vendemmia this week and they have some exciting events ahead. During the festival they are partnering with Slow Food Ottawa for a tomato-themed event and they are offering an "Olive Oil and Balsamic Showcase" as part of the Taste Little Italy Wine and Food Show. You can read about this week's events here. Antonio is excited about being a part of La Vendemmia because "it involves a large scale of participants".



The wines at DiVino are exclusively Italian. They carry 500 labels and 1500 bottles. I loved the regions' names painted on the wall above the wines! Their focus is on Italy, but they also keep other wines in stock for educational purposes and special events.



After passing the famous "wall of wine" at DiVino, I spied a friendly young Chef prepping for the evening service. The kitchen is an exposed, galley-style cooking station where you can see your food being prepared and chat with the Chef.



Next I toured the tasting room which is not only used for tastings and seminars, but also any type of event. "This is the ideal place to book a private or corporate event because of our personal service and dedicated staff. We will work with you on any theme you like", said Antonio.



Just when I thought, "What does this man NOT do?" he also informed me that he runs Italian Language Classes right there in the tasting room. From what I observed, Antonio treats DiVino like it's his home -- he is welcoming you in with open arms to drink some wine, eat some delicious Italian cuisine and perhaps join him on his next journey to the homeland.



Like some other restaurants in the city, DiVino Wine Studio and Enoteca also has an Enomatic Machine, a computerized wine service device that prevents air from getting into the bottles, thus preserving the taste and aroma of the wines. By using this machine, customers can get higher priced wines by the glass, and try some wines they might not normally be exposed to without having to buy the whole bottle.



I fully enjoyed my little chat with Antonio and I plan to visit DiVino for dinner, a tasting, a seminar, and maybe even a trip someday. If you're also getting the travel bug after reading this, Antonio is heading to Sicily in May, so pack your bags and don't forget to bring a healthy appetite for all things Italian.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Feasting in a Field




This weekend I attended Feast of Fields -- a fabulous organic food event that paired farmers and chefs together to create scrumptious culinary delights and to promote conscious food choices. This event was run by Canadian Organic Growers (Ottawa Chapter) and it is in its 5th consecutive year under the COG organization.




After picking up my media kit, I quickly joined the line and grabbed a tray. Feast of Fields really won me over at the get-go. With its vintage grab-bag of dishes and kitschy mugs, this event showed its commitment to the environment.




I quickly squirmed through the throngs of hungry attendees and started filling up my first plate. First things first, I picked up my wine sample from Savvy Company, I settled on Huff Estates Off-Dry Riesling.



Although the wine was good, the sample did not even seem to measure one ounce in volume.
On round one I savoured:


  • extremely tasty white bean mousse in a grilled pastry cone -- white kidney beans, lemon juice, olive oil, basil and garlic -- served by Chef Roger (in his awesome tie-dye chefs coat) from Ballygilbin's Restaurant and Pub

  • comforting grilled beans, eggplant and butternut squash from The Green Door, veggies from Waratah Downs Certified Organic Farm
  • decadent grilled summer tomato crostini -- rich tasting tomatoes topped with microgreens on a large, grilled crostini of tasty bread -- from Domus Cafe, veggies from Butterfly Sky Farms

  • rich and tasty goose terrine topped with pickled beets, beet chips and edible flowers from Mariposa Farms, who do it all from growing and raising to cooking and serving
  • light and healthy grilled vegetable feta and couscous salad (in a cute little boat!) from Thyme and Again Catering, veggies from Ashton Naturals


  • While I enjoyed my first feast of the day, I was treated not only to the jazzy sounds of local Latin/Afro-Cuban jazz band, Mango Upstart; but also to the green view all around: Vincent Massey Park in all its tree-lined glory.

    Round two started with a mug full of Beau's Lug-Tread Lagered Ale, served up from a portable tap by Steve Beauschene himself.


    Beau's All Natural Brewing Company just received official certified organic status. The beer was quite refreshing, and they have the cutest retro branding. The bottle alone is marketing genius in both its design and reusability. To accompany my beer, I snacked on:


    • creamy heirloom potato and leek soup (consumed pre-photo) and arctic char bruschetta from The Red Apron, veggies from Sweet Meadow Farms
    • tasty and refreshing chilled heirloom tomato soup with tomatillo crostini from Joe Simpson (at 15 years of age, the youngest chef there!) and his farmer friend AJ Shewchuk of AJ's Tomatoes. These kids and their commitment to organic food and cooking were almost more refreshing than their chilled soup! My photo of these two didn't come out, but you should have seen their proud faces!
    • bite sized and warming Orca bean veggie quesadillas from The Urban Element, ingredients from Greta's Organic Gardens
    • hearty mushroom chile with cornbread from Wellington GastroPub, mushrooms from Champignons Le Coprin (featured in my earlier post on Ottawa's Farmers' Market)

    • organic chicken and summer corn chowder with wholesome bread from Whalesbone Catering and True Loaf Bread Company
    • anti-asthma chicken stew with turnip and turmeric from The Holistic Cooking Academy who partnered with Glorious Greens (formerly Ray & Gerries)


    Turns out this event was originally started in the late 80s by Chefs Jamie Kennedy and Michael Stadtlander. During my time working for JK, I witnessed first hand that his commitment to local food, organics and naturally raised meats has not waned over the years. Feast of Fields is now in Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver and I don't foresee the passion for this event dying out anytime soon. My advice to those who attend next year would be to join the ravenous ranks and arrive early, grab your food as soon as you can, and take advantage of the inspiring farmers, chefs and educators there who can inform you about more sustainable food choices and organic-focused restaurants in Ottawa. Many farmer/chef teams had beautiful displays and even more attractive attitudes -- happy to tell you what you were about to eat and introduce you to the man or woman who grew the ingredients or raised the meat. What an immediately gratifying experience it is to see farmers and chefs, side by side, sharing their passion for fresh, organic, local ingredients.


    Feast of Fields is also a great way to get to know the "Who's Who" of the Ottawa food scene, especially if you're a recent import like me.


    I wasn't able to make it to every table but I fully enjoyed what I did get to sample. After my second feast, I had to go back for dessert, so I picked up a chocolate mint cookie from a cute cookie guy in a cute cookie truck, B. Goods Mobile Bakery. To accompany my cookie I got some "After Dinner Soother" tea from Porcupine Creek Farm, where they grow certified organic medicinal herbs. Check out that cookie apron!


    After all my feasting was through, I enjoyed chatting with some of the inspiring folks involved in the event. Emily from Beyond Factory Farming shared her passion for conscious food choices -- her buttons reading "Think,Eat,Act" were eye-catching, but her clear commitment to the cause was what made me want to learn more. Torry from Growing Up Organic indulged me in a long chat about her project, a youth-oriented program focusing on organic farming and food culture. This exciting, healthy project is part of many things Canadian Organic Growers is doing. Torry was there with the aforementioned teen farmer/chef team: Joe and A.J. Just seeing these kids in action made me want to help out with the project. Stay tuned for a possible post on Growing Up Organic in the future.


    I left with new buttons for my bag, a full stomach and a smile on my face. Sure, the food was great but the scene made the most impact. The vibe of the event with farmers and chefs together, young people sharing their excitement and families picnicking was enough to make me plan my return for next year. Summer's almost gone, why don't you go feast in a field yourself? Grab a picnic and get lost in some nature-- you won't regret it.