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.
Monforte Dairy provided the Toscano cheese that was at the heart of the savoury thyme pound cake created by Table 17.
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.
At the Cheese Boutique display, Afrim Pristine was kept busy cutting a 10-year-old cheddar that the cheese shop purchased from historic Forfar Dairy before it churned its last curds in 2008.
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.
Here’s an excellent selection of Suresh Doss photographs from the Picnic. See also the photo essay by Jamie Drummond at Good Food Revolution.
If you’re a foodie within reach of Toronto, the annual Picnic at Brick Works to benefit Slow Food Toronto and Evergreen is an event not to be missed.
Even after the nap and a brush of teeth, the marvellous taste of Zane Caplansky’s smoked meat lingers on the palate . . .