On Sunday I travelled to Kemptville with a few friends to sample the offerings of local chefs paired with vendors and farms at the annual MarketPlates event. The event celebrated the market season and showcased the tastes available in the North Grenville area. For a donation ($15 is suggested) to the Kemptville Kinsmen you're given a (non plastic!) plate, fork and passport to the tasting stations.
(From Netherfield Farms, Little Tart Pastries and Catered Affairs: Bright beet hummus, peach butter crisp and ricotta muffin)
The outdoor event was victim to the cold, windy weather but it didn't stop the North Grenville community from celebrating harvest time. I enjoyed bites from Wyatt's Grill, The Branch Restaurant, Brewed Awakenings, Brigadoon, Catered Affairs, The Kemptville Pub, The Crusty Baker, The Landing and many more. Pictured are some of my favorites.
Chef Kurt Waldele, Former Executive Chef of the National Arts Center and owner of KW Catering, had a passion for animals that rivalled his passion for food. Over the years he volunteered his time and culinary talent by hosting garden parties in his Cumberland estate and prepared menus for the Ottawa Humane Society Furballs. Sadly, he passed away in 2009 and in his memory friends have teamed together with local Chefs to present this fundraiser.
For $100 donation to the Ottawa Humane Society guests will have the opportunity to sample food from more than 20 Ottawa area Chefs and sample wine from Ontario's great Niagara and Prince Edward County regions. With some of the city's most prominent restaurant Chefs as well as Chefs from hotels and embassies preparing food it will be a fantastic way to pay tribute to Chef Kurt Waldele and celebrate the new OHS shelter.
The event takes place on Sunday, August 28, 2011 from 2 - 5pm at the Ottawa Humane Society at 245 West Hunt Club Road.
Living in Ottawa the food truck offerings are pretty dull, the menu has the standard French fry offerings with sausages, hot dogs and pogos. It wasn't until earlier this year when I sampled wonderful soup served from the green Stone Soupworks truck and cookies baked fresh from B. Goods that I realized more can come from a truck than fries.
This realization was reinforced when the boyfriend and I stopped in Austin, Texas - the home of over 1,600 food trucks and carts. There were several lots dedicated to street food and few of them were serving french fries. Instead it was a wonderland of BBQ, Thai, ice cream, sandwiches, cupcakes and delicious “deep sautéed” things served in cones. The food was delicious, complex and I was inspired by the creativity used in such a small space. Seeing how large and popular the street food scene was in Austin it piqued my interest and I was curious to eat and learn more.
(The Sarducci from Gorilla Cheese - my favourite of the day)
When I returned from vacation I learned I had missed the first instalment of Toronto's Food Truck Eats - an event bringing some of Ontario's best food trucks together in the Distillery District. It also featured some stalls where local Toronto chefs who didn't own food trucks tried their hand at creating street food. Thankfully the idea was so popular that a second and third instalment was planned and this time I was able to travel to Toronto to attend this festival of street food.
(Spicy Corn Star fritters with cucumber, thai basil, hot and sour sauce from El Gastronomo Vagabundo)
When I arrived at the Distillery District at 9:50am I saw volunteers collecting donations to Second Harvest, a Toronto charity that delivers surplus fresh food to those in need, in exchange for early access to the trucks. Thanks to that donation I was able to skip the massive lines that developed once the trucks opened to the public and enjoyed some of the more popular trucks before it got hectic.
(Deep fried pickle from Caplansky)
I started my day with the Sarducci from Gorilla Cheese – sweet balsamic tomatoes with basil, onion and gooey mozzarella on toasted multigrain bread served with a pickle. After licking my fingers I lined up at El Gastronomo Vagabundo for the Bangkok Dangerous Taco and spicy Corn Star fritters. From there I went for the deep fried pickle at Caplansky which was okay but more of a deep fried novelty.
From there I decided I needed a break from the savoury and bought a maple bacon donut from Po’nuts (aka Beast Restaurant) – I enjoyed the sweetness of the maple and saltiness of the bacon as I walked around the distillery district, looking at the various offerings. Wanting something sandwich-like, I bought a pulled pork and beef brisket slider from Buster Rhino BBQ. I’m a sucker for pulled pork and the sauce was quite delicious. My stomach was quite full but I continued on opting for traditional curd and gravy poutine from Smoke’s Poutinery and cherry ice cream from Twirlees. I ended my day by picking up a dozen cupcakes from Cupcake Diner to bring back to Ottawa.
(Pulled pork and beef brisket from Buster Rhino BBQ)
The event was a huge success both for vendors, eaters and Second Harvest – earning close to $4,000 in donations. The third instalment of Food Truck Eats will return to the Distillery District on October 1st when I’m sure there will be more vendors and even more people lined up. Hamilton will also play host to their own food truck rally on September 16 featuring the popular (and some of my favourite) Gorilla Cheese, Cupcake Diner and El Gastronomo Vagabundo.