A 90-minute nap was in order after three hours of grazing at the fourth annual Slow Food/Evergreen Picnic at Brick Works in Toronto today. A capacity crowd of 1,200 sampled the best of Ontario’s sustainable harvest as presented by top chefs and leading producers, supported by a bevy of winemakers, craft brewers and producers of fruit wine and hard cider.
Here’s how the Brick Works Picnic works: A chef, such as Giacomo Pasquini of Vertical Restaurant creates a dish—Tortello, in this example—using fresh ingredients from Bzikot-family run Best Baa Farm—sheep’s milk ricotta and a brebis frais filling—with a light lamb jus and vegetables—dried organic veggies and live kale sprouts—grown by Pfenning family-run Pfenning’s Organic Farm.
The tortello is served in a simple presentation mere seconds after it is made by the chef’s crew in one of 66—Yes, 66!—food stations spread through the renovated Brick Works, a singular cultural showcase devoted to urban sustainability and green living.
Fifth Town Artisan Cheese was the only cheesemaker with a display of its own. Petra Cooper (at left) spread the gospel while Ezra Title of Chez Vous presented double-baked fingerlings made with double-smoked bacon and three Fifth Town cheeses, Cape Vessey, Chevre and Plain Jane.
But cheese played only a small role in the event overall as some of the best cooks in Ontario showed their mastery of a wide variety of agricultural products from close to home. Among the many stand-outs:
- Maple pork bellies, Splendido, McCutcheon’s Maple Syrup;
- Bison burgers, The Healthy Butcher, Mountain Lake Bison;
- Suffolk lamb kabob, Allen’s, Scotch Mountain Meats;
- Smoked meat, served fatty, not lean, Caplansky’s Delicatessen;
- Smoked trout salad, Reds Bistro, Milford Bay Trout Farm;
Stand-outs in adult beverages:
- Meritage Red, Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery;
- Draft cider, The County Cider Company;
- Cranberry wine, Muskoka Lakes Winery.
Even after the nap and a brush of teeth, the marvellous taste of Zane Caplansky’s smoked meat lingers on the palate . . .