Quick Downtown News: New Digs for Publican House, Naked Chocolate; Community Butcher Opens on George St.

nakedThe Farm to Table blog doesn’t get updated very often during the winter months, but I thought I would throw out some news that will excite shoppers in downtown Peterborough.

After moving to a new location at 142  Hunter Street, Naked Chocolate has opened their doors just in time for Valentine’s Day.  Get on in to buy that special something for your Valentine.

Don’t have a Valentine?  Chocolate and wine go perfectly together — what better way to drown your sorrows!

The Publican House has opened a brand new tasting room and retail store — right beside the publican brewery.  The tasting room has expanded seating for those who want to hang out for a while.  The new store, which features a large cooler, brewery merchandise and seating area, is now open to customers daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. It opens at 10 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Finallycommunity, there is a new butcher in town.  And downtown carnivores are rejoicing!  The Community Butcher Shop caries all local beef, pork, and chicken.  Owner, Scott Walsworth, prides himself on sourcing local product and supporting the community.  I took the time to sample a number of his products — some thick-cut smoked bacon, tandoori chicken wings, and lamb merguez — and they all scored high on the Farm to Table taste-o-metre.

The exciting part?  All three venues are on board for next year’s culinary tours!  Look for this year’s schedule to be released in April.

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Spread the word: Farm to Table is hiring!  We’re going to be taking on a young entrepreneur to help organize and run the tours — and to help expand them into new markets.  Deadline to apply is March 2nd.

Hot Sauce Contest

Announced on Twitter, my personal Facebook page, and here on ptbolocalfoods.ca

Any new Peterborough Farm to Table Culinary Tours Facebook “likes” between now and Friday at 5pm will be put into a draw to win one of 3 Farm to Table hot sauces: Habanero Death, Chipotle Hurt, or Cayenne Maim. 3 prizes in all.

These aren’t fancypants bottles of sauce, but rather home canned and made from peppers and other ingredients grown in the Farm to Table gardens.

Trust me when I say that they are much sought after culinary fireballs. Hand-crafted, they range from pretty darned hot to “wow, where did my eyebrows go.”

Sorry existing “likes,” but look for a contest for you early in the new year (including a chance to win tickets for the weekly summer culinary tours).

Want a tease? Here is the Chipotle Hurt, featured on Punk Domestics.

Local Afghan Food Course Has Global Impact — Plus Authentic Afghan Recipes


In a crowded room at the Centennial Crescent Community Centre all eyes are to the front of the class.

As Soriya Basirmonsef describes the ingredients in front of her, a diverse group of 10 people pay rapt attention, not wanting to miss any of the information that will help transform the table-full of random foodstuffs into aromatic and sumptuous-tasting Persian Food.

Within minutes, the quiet calm transforms itself into a bustling hive of activity as participants start slicing, dicing, chopping and boiling. The simmering smell of an Afghan kitchen soon begins to waft throughout the room.

It’s all part of a new initiative that sees Soriya use her love and knowledge of traditional cooking as a means of raising awareness around the issues of women’s rights in Afghanistan. It’s also an innovative way to help raise funds for CW4W (Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan)

Afghan women’s rights have deteriorated over the past three decades. Under the tyrannical rule of extremists, such as the mujahideen and the Taliban, women have struggled to gain freedoms and reform a society that is primarily male dominant. While things are slowly improving in Afghanistan, women still face astonishing rates of violence, are often barred from education, and lack the opportunity for meaningful employment — a situation that resonates with Soriya, an Afghan mother of 3 daughters who was widowed at the young age of 23.

While the underlying reasons behind the cooking courses are deadly serious, the courses themselves are fun and


energetic — they are times for sharing laughter as well well as knowledge.  They’re a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

My visit to today’s class coincided with a special announcement. Soriya’s daughter, Maryam Monsef had gathered local media together to release the results of the 2012 Red Pashmina Campaign — Monsef and fellow Red Pashmina co-founder, Jessica Melnik, are cross promoting the two initiatives and were on hand to help with the cooking course.

Throughout the Red Pashmina campaign, red cashmere scarves (pashminas) are sold in retail outlets throughout Peterborough, including: the YWCA, the New Canadians Centre, Tango, My Left Breast, Glow Maternity, Le Joie de Vie, Tia Star, Benevolent Stranger and Sympathy for the Rebel.

Over the past year — its third — Red Pashmina raised over $6,700. Funds raised will be directed to CW4W Afghan’s Lantern Fund. Launched in November 2012, this special campaign raises revenue to sustain teacher training programs in Afghanistan. An estimated 70% of Afghan teachers currently working in classrooms have had little to no previous teacher training and most have no post-secondary education of any kind. Many have not even completed high school. The lack of trained male and female teachers directly affects girls’ access to school and drastically affects quality of education.


Like the cooking course, the Pashmina program is truly an empowering one.  Look for my coverage of the program’s success in tomorrow’s Small Print blog.

As the course progressed, participants began to assemble some truly mouthwatering dishes — food that was definitely worth the $20 weekly course fee. Soriya was kind enough to share the recipes.  You can find them below.

To register for the next class, contact Daphne Ingram daphne.ingram650@gmail.com, 705 656-3820.


From the organizers of Soriya’s Afghan Cooking Classes:

WHERE: Centennial Crescent Community Centre, 1770 Stenson Blvd. (opposite the entrance to Fleming). The classes will be held in the community building in the centre of the crescent. Park in the visitors parking spots or beside #38 (ignore the handicapped designation). Soriya says you can also use the staff parking because it is on Sunday.
WHEN: The first class will be held on Sunday, Jan. 6 from 2 to 5 p.m. and on alternate Sundays for as long as there is interest.
COST: $20 per class or any 3 classes for $50
REGISTRATION: You must register in advance (at least 3 days before) for each class by emailing Daphne at daphne.ingram650@gmail.com or calling 705 656-3820. Classes will be filled as the registrations come in and you will be notified if a class is full.
Please inform on registration of any food allergies


Recipes — taken directly from Soriya’s notes.


1lb meat (usually goat or lamb, but Soriya used beef for the class)
3 medium onions
1/2 cup yogurt
3 cloves of garlic
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp of each: black pepper, tumeric, cinnamon
1/4 tsp of cayenne
5tbs of any kind of oil (olive would work)
4 cups of water


  • Wash and chop the meat (size doesn’t matter)
  • Mince the garlic, grate one onion — mix both with spices, 2 tbsp of oil, and yogurt. Let marinate in the fridge for up to 24 hours in a covered bowl
  • Add remainder of oil to a sturdy pot with a cover — fry remaining grated/finely chopped onions until golden
  • Add the meat mixture and stir fry it until golden
  • Pour in water, cover, lower the heat, and simmer for 30-45 minutes, or until meat is tender.
  • Alternately, this can be done in an oven-proof dish at 350 degrees
  • There should be aproximately 1 cup of liquid left when it is cooked
  • Serve in a deep plate, covered with a pita — eat it warm with bread, rice, or pasta.

Baghali Palow


Basmati rice, 700gBaby lima beens (fresh or frozen), 300g
Butter/Vegetable oil, 200g
Fresh dill, 3 cups
Medium potatoes, 2 (optional), sliced
Powdered saffron, 1/4 tsp
Salt, 5tsp


  • Wash rice and soak for at least 2 hours.
  • In a large pot, at at least 10 cups of water and 5tbs of salt, heat on high.
  • In a small pot, place lima beans in 2 cups of water over medium heat — cover until cooked and water has been absorbed — set aside.
  • Wash the dill 3 times, rinse it, chop it, and set it aside.
  • When the water in the large pot is boiling, drain rice and add to the water – stir gently.  Boil uncovered for 4-6 minutes, drain into a collander.
  • Melt 4 tbsp of butter/oil in the pot — sprinkle 2 spoons of rice on the bottom and then arrange potato slices in a single layer.
  • Mix the remaining rice with the lima beans and dill and add to the pot in the shape of a pyramid.
  • Add 1/4 cup of warm water, sprinkle some oil on the rice, and then cover again.
  • Heat on medium for 4 minutes and then lower the heat to minimum — or you can transfer it to a 200 degree oven — cook for 30 min – 1 hour.
  • To serve: heat the remaining oil and pour over rice.  Mix 1/2 cup of rice with saffron and 2tbsp rosewater.  Spread over top of dish.

Burger Wars: Round 3. Reggie’s Hot Grill

Awhile back, I started a blog mini-series on the “burger wars” of Peterborough.  Here at Farm to Table, we take our burgers pretty darned seriously and feel that it is our responsibility to report on the state of burgerdom in this here Peterburger town.

The first part of the series gave a bit of recent burger history.  You can find it here.

The second part was a review of the new burger kid on the block: The Works Gourmet Burger Bistro.  You can find that review here.  The conclusion:  A quite pricey (though definitely large) franchise burger with an impressive array of tasty condiments.  Hand cut (and somewhat crisp) fries.  Excellent customer service.  7/10.

Next up in the better burger battle is Reggie’s Hot Grill.  Reggie’s has a soft spot in the hearts of many local burger aficionados.  While this soft spot is most likely made up of a combination of cheese and french fry grease, it exists nonetheless.  In short, Reggie’s is definitely a favourite in this town.  It became so as a result of a combination of innovative burger options and a pretty darned good product.  It didn’t hurt that they ran the best darned burger/chip truck in town (sadly, now closed).  For a good long while, Reggie’s could do no wrong.

Of late, however, Reggie’s grill-flamed halo has begun to sputter.  There have been reports that the once-keen eye for detail has begun to wander. After all, owners Cameron Green and Rejean Maranda have opened a few other restaurant properties over the past few years, including El Camino’s, Kettle Drums, and the newly purchased McThirsty’s.

In fact, whenever I have posted about the restaurant over the past year or so (on Facebook and Twitter) I’ve heard fairly equal measures of praise and regret.

The Reggie burgers that Krista and I have bought over the past two years have ranged from pretty good to disastrous.  I mean, ingredient-wise, they are better than fast food franchises, but sometimes burned, other times missing condiments.  On one occasion, both.

For the sake of this review, I decided to give the Reggie’s kitchen the best opportunity they could to knock it out of the park.

I popped in midweek, at 11:15am.  Knowing I would likely be the only customer, I wanted to check out what a fully-attentive staff could do with a burger.

The woman working behind the counter was fresh-faced and keen.  Say what you will about Reggie’s, those kids that they hire are always a chipper bunch.

Having had a few very well-done burgers from the restaurant before, I decided to try to mitigate the over-grilling.

“I know you folks have to cook your burgers to 71 degrees,” I told her.  “But if you could keep it as rare as you can, that would be great.”

She nodded.

I took off for 10 minutes and returned to find my burger still on the grill and the waitress talking to her co-worker.  The conversation quickly ended and the cook hightailed it back to attend to my food.

The result?

My Pepper Jack Burger was blackened on one side and definitely a very, very well-done puck of beef.  The cheese, I have to believe, was thrown on when I came in the door and quickly wrapped up with the burger — definitely without any time to even slightly melt.  While the other condiments, including their quite delicious Creamy Jalapeno sauce, were bang on, the burger itself was a bit of a grilling disaster.  And this was with me being the first and only customer of the day.

The fries, on the other hand, were excellent.  Piping hot and golden brown, they almost made up for the burger.  Almost.

Before assigning a score on this one, I’m going to factor in my previous visits to Reggie’s — and the fact that I have had some great burgers there in the past, and likely will again.  That bump, however, is not enough to put it into the above average realm of burger mastery.

As with the Works, I’m pretty certain that we’re not dealing with local ingredients.  Other than the generic “6oz Ontario Beef Burger,” I’ve seen and heard no mention of local sourcing.

The verdict: Reggie’s has the history and potential of a great burger shack.  They have good, fresh condiments (even if they are sometimes mislaid), notable fries, and great customer service.  They also have some consistency issues and a seemingly growing list of disgruntled patrons.  Their burger is quite a bit smaller than the Works, but comes in at a lower price.  I got away with just around $15 for a burger, fries, drink, tax and tip — still pretty pricey for a overly-charred chunk of cow.  While they remain my burger go-to, they need to return to the level of detail that made them so good in the first place if they are going to keep my business. 7/10.

It’s your turn, folks.  Chime in with your Reggie’s experience.  Let us know what you think of the Works.  Or tell us where you think the best Peterburger is served.

Rick Mercer on the XL Foods Recall

[embedplusvideo height=”241″ width=”380″ standard=”http://www.youtube.com/v/kY09m-WJi2Q?fs=1″ vars=”ytid=kY09m-WJi2Q&width=380&height=241&start=&stop=&rs=w&hd=0&autoplay=0&react=1&chapters=&notes=” id=”ep8200″ /]A short while ago, I wrote an entry on the XL Foods beef recall, and the importance of shopping locally.  Food security, food knowledge, and food safety are things we take pretty seriously around the Farm to Table table.  As serious as it is, though, it is also a great pleasure to see comedian, Rick Mercer, take XL Foods and the Federal Government to task for the bizarrely lax attitudes they both hold towards both national and international food safety and food product contamination.

We hope you enjoy.  Rick Mercer on the XL Foods Recall.