STRATFORD, Ont. — The wet and soggy weekend didn’t keep the crowds at Savour Stratford away long, as the 6th annual incarnation of the Perth County culinary festival attracted guests from minutes and miles away to take in chef demos, tastings, artisan flavours and more.
This year, the event featured a “Globally inspired, locally grown” theme, opening the conversation to thoughts on Indian, Burmese, Brazilian, West Indian, Mexican and Peruvian cuisine.
“Food in Ontario has become increasingly inspired by international cuisines and flavours. The abundance of Ontario fruits, vegetables and meats that lend themselves to global culinary traditions means it is only natural that the festival programme pairs them together,” said Jennifer Laurie, programme director of the festival.
And, as Roger Mooking stepped on stage to create a spiced chicken dish with broccoli, he showcased the flavours of France, Bangladesh and the West Indies, with chicken, shallots, broccoli and arugula from the region. Although Mooking is inspired by global flavours, he treasures his local ingredients. “Everyone here is aware of how hard the farmers work, so I want to use as much of the ingredient as possible,” he said, explaining why he purées his garlic by hand, rather than using a press.
Outside the demo tents, guests wandered down The Taste of Ontario Artisan Alley (pictured) where row upon row of craft brews, cask ales, Ontario wines and Ontario cheeses were sampled. In fact, the alcoholic tastes and trends permeated throughout the festival as guests learned about the growing interest in cask ale — an unfiltered, unpasteurized, naturally carbonated offering that’s leading to the creation of new flavours. Today more cask offerings are infused with tastes such as coffee, lemon and pepper. “[Cask ale] is an old-school way to serve beer,” said Mirella Amato, master cicerone and founder of Toronto’s Beerology beer workshop company, who led the Cask Ale Guided Tasting.
And, flavoured alcohol is a trend extending beyond beer, as Davin de Kergommeaux, author, columnist and “malt maniac,” explained in his From Grain to Glass: The Art of Whisky tasting. “There’s a big change in the whisky world. There’s a lot of whisky that’s flavoured,” he said, referencing ginger and maple syrup as ingredients that are being used to amplify taste. “A lot of women are drinking whisky, and they’re bringing their palate with them.”
Other festival highlights included a three-hour lunch with Vancouver’s renowned chef Vikram Vij and a Women-in-Food Breakfast among other tastings, demos and culinary conversations.