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Foodbuzz 24×24 – Savour Stratford

There are exciting things afoot in Stratford, Ontario, a town  mainly known for its annual Shakespeare festival – North America’s largest classical repertory theatre, presenting the works of William Shakespeare and other great writers.

It is rapidly becoming a foodie town and was recently named “Canada’s hottest food destination” by AOL.ca.  With a  farmers’ market dating back to 1855 and home to the Stratford Chefs School, this town is making a name for itself as more than just the hometown of Justin Bieber (yes, it’s true and if you are a real fan, you can tour Stratford using the “Bieberiffic map” to help you find the schools he went to; the ice cream parlor he went to after soccer games and the skate park where he learned his moves for his videos).

On Saturday, May 29th, I was a guest of Savour Stratford and the Stratford Tourism Alliance on a culinary tour designed to introduce us to the flavours of Stratford and the faces behind the food.  Today’s post will take you through the day briefly and later next week, I will write up some of the visits in more depth.

We arrived at Monforte Dairy and enjoyed a coffee from Balzac’s Stratford and some Montforte sheeps’ milk yoghurt which had a much milder taste than I was expecting.

Our group was fortunate enough to be able to tour the new dairy (so new that they are still madly working on it for the grand opening hopefully this coming Tuesday!). The milk will be arriving soon and Ruth and the Monforte team will be making all the old Monforte favourites, as well as new cheese from cows and buffalo milk this spring. The dairy will be open for tours, tastings and cheese making workshops on weekends until October.

Next we headed over to Soiled Reputation.

Soiled Reputation has been supplying many of the best restaurants in Ontario for 15 years. It is a certified organic produce farm, growing custom salad mixes, seedlings, and leafy greens year round. Seasonally they grow 50 different gourmet and heirloom vegetables. The farm is run by Antony John hosted the Food Network Canada TV show, ‘The Manic Organic’.  Soiled Reputation practices ecologically sound, certified organic growing techniques that enrich, rather than deplete the soil. Biodiversity is maximized wherever possible, and an ecosystem approach to growing is demonstrated.

We foraged for some ingredients that would appear later on our lunch plates!

We moved on to feed the the wild boar and Tamworth pigs at Perth Pork Products with farmer, Fred de Martines.

Perth Pork Products Ltd. has been selling pork products since 1992 directly to the public on the farm and to local restaurants and stores. Chefs are loyal customers of the farm due to the exceptional quality of their products. All of the pigs are heritage breeds (ie. Tamworth, Berkshire and Wild Boar).    The heritage animals are raised humanely in and out doors with the heritage breeds raised as they were historically on pastures and in the bush-lot. The farm offers the tourist a chance to view traditional pig farming with a viewing room into the barn, next to the pastures with the heritage breeds.

After that, we headed back to Soiled Reputation for a Barn Lunch from Chef Neil Baxter of Rundles Restaurant.

One of Stratford’s most celebrated chefs, Neil and his team worked with Antony to prepare a three course Perth County barn lunch.  VQA wine from Niagara and Stratford Brewing Company’s pilsner accompanied lunch.

After lunch, we took part in a tea workshop with tea sommelier Karen Hartwick, of Tea Leaves Tea Tasting Bar.  Karen is a certified tea sommelier, accredited by the Specialty Tea Institute in New York. More than a tea expert, this is a rigorous designation comparable to that of a wine sommelier. And much more rare!  Karen lead a tea tasting workshop and instructed us in the art of blending her local Ontario organic herbal tea.

From there, we headed to a candy making workshop with Derek Barr at Chocolate Barr’s Candies who let us in on the secret recipe for Nutty Pop – an “educated form of caramel corn with pecans and almonds.”  We took part in making a huge vat of this:

On our way back to Toronto, we stopped in at Shakespeare’s Pies and The Best Little Pork Shoppe for a few more sweet treats and for stocking up on bacon and sausages!

Many thanks to the Perth County Visitors Association, Savour Stratford and Suresh at Spotlight Toronto for a wonderful day – and be sure to check back later this week for some more in-depth posts on some of these amazing foodie destinations.

Thanks also to Foodbuzz for accepting my proposal to participate in this month’s 24×24 event.  You can check out the other 23 bloggers’ unique events here from late Monday May 31!

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38 Responses to Foodbuzz 24×24 – Savour Stratford

  1. Belinda @zomppa May 30, 2010 at 15:02 #

    What a great tour! I love every part of it…the wild board, the tea sommelier!!

  2. Kitchen Butterfly May 30, 2010 at 15:39 #

    You know what I love the most – sun-kissed photos. Oh my word, I could go on in pure adoration of the beauty of your photos….those chics. Thank God for colour temperature and the macro shoots are stunning…..

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite May 31, 2010 at 06:46 #

      Thanks so much – there was so much to take photos of it was hard to make sure the shots were coming out! Glad you liked them!

  3. FOODESSA May 30, 2010 at 16:18 #

    Thank you for putting together a mini tour of Stratford. I went there when I was obviously too young to remember what a unique place this is.
    I’ll have to make it a point to integrate it in my next plans of travel through Ontario. At the very least…I need to experience making that delectable looking ‘Nutty Pop’.
    Thanks for sharing all this with us and flavourful wishes, Claudia

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite May 31, 2010 at 06:45 #

      You’re so welcome! I think the food focus in Stratford has only really started in the last few years and yes, the Nutty Pop is definitely a reason to go there!

  4. Christine @ Fresh Local and Best May 30, 2010 at 19:20 #

    This is a great tour of Stratford. I’m impressed with their focus on sustainability and organic agriculture. Moreover, it’s rare to see wild boar be raised. And how cute was that picture of the baby boars with its mom?

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite May 31, 2010 at 06:44 #

      Yes, the boars were *very* cute though they are pretty fierce too! And yes, Stratford really is doing a great job on the sustainability and organic front.

  5. Ellie (Almost Bourdain) May 30, 2010 at 19:24 #

    Such a great post! Thanks for sharing. Well done, Mardi!

  6. Paula - bell'alimento May 30, 2010 at 21:53 #

    What a great post Mardi! Looks like a day full of fun! I’m lovin the fotos!

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite May 31, 2010 at 06:44 #

      Thanks Paula – there were so many (more) photos – I will be editing them later this week for the other posts!

  7. Peter May 30, 2010 at 21:59 #

    Great idea for a 24 event and an even better way to spend the day!

  8. Jen Laceda May 30, 2010 at 22:28 #

    Nice! Never thought of Stratford as a foodie destination, so thanks for the alert. Will watch out for Stratford specials!

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite May 31, 2010 at 06:43 #

      You should follow @savourstratford on Twitter and the food festival is at the end of September…

  9. Mary Luz May 30, 2010 at 22:35 #

    Lovely round up of our action-packed day with pictures that do the landscape and the people we met that day justice! You can share our ride ANY TIME! :)

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite May 31, 2010 at 06:43 #

      Cheers ML – I hope to do the Stratford people a but more justice in some more in-depth posts later this week!

  10. 5 Star Foodie May 30, 2010 at 23:43 #

    A very neat tour and a great experience! Thanks so much for sharing with us!

  11. penny aka jeroxie May 31, 2010 at 00:15 #

    That is so much fun. There seems to be so many different events all the time.

  12. Cristina, from Buenos Aires to Paris May 31, 2010 at 02:02 #

    Oh, how lucky you were to see and taste all these treats first hand !!
    Also, it is great to promote small scale producers that do things well..
    I wish Canada were a bit closer to me..Thanks for sharing the experience!

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite May 31, 2010 at 06:41 #

      You’re very welcome! Of course the grass is always greener – I would love to be in Paris you know!

  13. Conor @ HoldtheBeef May 31, 2010 at 02:56 #

    I declare it to be impossible to look at baby pigs (piglets, if you will) or baby boar (boarlets? Hmmm) and not giggle.

  14. Mr. Neil May 31, 2010 at 13:03 #

    Mmmmm. BACON.

    I was rather hoping Miss Mardi would have brought me home a nice slab of wild boar belly to cure and smoke, after my slaving away in the kitchen all weekend.

    Alas, all I got were two pepperettes. ;-)

  15. Magic of Spice May 31, 2010 at 13:52 #

    Beautiful post! Enjoyed the read:)

  16. The Housewife May 31, 2010 at 20:59 #

    Looks like you had a great time! Wonderful pictures and that caramel corn looks so delicious!

  17. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction May 31, 2010 at 22:16 #

    Looks like a great time. I would love to go to Stratford sometime!

  18. Cat June 1, 2010 at 20:14 #

    what a fun day! looking forward to the in-depth follow-ups.

  19. Joy June 3, 2010 at 16:59 #

    Mardi what a wonderful tour!!! That nutty pop looks amazing — I loved the pictures, especially the ones of the boars hahaha they are funny creatures. Great job on the 24 24 24!!!

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite June 5, 2010 at 08:24 #

      Thanks for stopping by Joy! It was a great tour and yes, the nutty pop was amazing!!!! I loved the wild boars too!

  20. Evelyn June 10, 2010 at 07:50 #

    How wonderful to read about Stratford. We live in London and travel to Stratford often. Now we have more shops to check out!!! I love the article

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  1. Savouring Stratford « My Daily Bread - May 31, 2010

    [...] you wait, do check out the great post from Mardi at Eat. Live. Travel. Write. and cafebiscotta’s photos of the [...]

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