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.

*          *          *

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.

Purple Onion Festival Serves Up Entertainment and Education


peppers

There was an autumn chill on the air and an autumn harvest feast for the senses at the second annual Purple Onion Festival. A steady crown streamed through the Millennium Park event, sampling food from a variety of vendors and exploring options on accessing local and seasonal products from across the Peterborough area.

“It’s been a wonderful day,” smiled Transition Town’s Trent Rhode, one of the festival organizers. “And a wonderful opportunity for everyone involved.”

The event featured food samples from a variety of venues, including Rare Grill House, Parkhill on Hunter, the Peterborough Golf and Country Club, and Schubert’s Fine Foods.

Several local growers were on hand to sell their produce, giving the festival a market feel. There were also a number of local non-profit organizations present, such as Peterborough Green-Up and the Peterborough Community Garden Network, making the event as educational as it was entertaining.

fleming 1

“Really, it is education through celebration,” explained Rhode. “People are so much more receptive to ideas and concepts when they are having a good time. And while people have come to eat great food and enjoy an autumn festival, they’re also learning about the importance of our local food system. They’re coming together as a community through a shared interest in local foods.”

Chef Steve Benns, Co-ordinator of Fleming College’s Culinary Program, saw the event as an opportunity for some of his students to get valuable experience.

“They’ve been meeting some of Peterborough’s top chefs,” he noted. “They’re meeting some of the suppliers of the area’s best local foods, getting the opportunity to cook in front of a crowd, and learning a whole lot about the local food movement.”

transition town volunteers

Event volunteer, Jaclin Brown, was impressed by what she saw.

“I can believe how many people there are,” she exclaimed. “And I can’t believe the support being shown for local foods. This is proof that our community can come together – is really willing to celebrate our local foods together.”

“I love the fact that the event merges local businesses and restaurants with local growers and producers,” added fellow volunteer, Anna King. “Local food is the backbone of a self-sustaining community. And this festival helps showcase the many people involved in making our community more sustainable.”

Holiday Inn

The busiest area of the event seemed to be the catering tent, where local chefs were strutting their stuff.

“This is so delicious,” said festival-goer, Chelsea Thompson between bites of goat burger. “I’ve been trying my best to get into seasonal eating, and a day like today makes it really easy.”

While I didn’t manage to sample my way through all the venues, I did manage some Sriracha pork belly from Rare Grill House, a Crosswind Farm chevre slider from Holiday Inn Waterfront, and some BBQ duck with 3 cheese pasta from Elmhirt’s.

I also checked out a set of live music from the wonderfully talented Kendall and got my bike tuned up by the volunteer mechanics from the Peterborough Community Bike Shop.

mike from bike

A pretty sweet way to kick off autumn, if you ask me.

For more information on the Purple Onion Festival, please visit http://www.thepurpleonion.org/

Seasoned Spoon Event Offers Practical (and Sustainably Sourced) Food Prep Tips to First Year Students

spoon

I’m a huge fan of the Seasoned Spoon. And if you are a lover of local foods in the Peterborough area, you should be to.

If you haven’t heard of the Spoon, they’re an independent café at Trent University offering delicious lunches and snacks for students, staff and faculty. They’re also pioneers in helping make local, seasonal, and ethically sourced food an integral part of university life.

Awhile back, I wrote a piece about them for Metroland Media newspapers and blogs across Ontario. Click here to read the piece.

Their upcoming event, “So I’m in University…. What do I Eat?!?” is a great example of how they aim to feed both the body and the mind.

From their Facebook page:

“Wednesday, Sept. 26th 4pm-5pm- So I’m in University- What do I Eat?!? Join us at the Seasoned Spoon for a workshop and conversation on surviving first year on a budget or in residence, as we discuss how to eat healthily and cheaply even if you’re tied to a meal plan. We’ll take you on a mental walk-about on where to buy and eat good food in Peterborough and together will create a must-have list of res room staples and “cooking” tips. This workshop is geared toward first year students but everyone is welcome to come and share. Cost is by donation and the Seasoned Spoon is located in Champlain College just past the Great Hall.”

For more info on the Seasoned Spoon, drop by their website.

You can also follow them on Twitter at @SeasonedSpoon or on Facebook (Seasoned Spoon).

Primal Cuts Carves Out a Niche in Gourmet “Local” Meats

Look out Peterborough butchers, there’s a new kid in town.

And he is slicing up some fine, fine looking meats.

Truth be told, George Madill, butcher and owner of Primal Cuts, the new boutique meatery on Lansdowne Street, isn’t new to Peterborough.  He’s just been away for awhile.  Seven years to be precise.

He’s been honing his craft in Toronto, starring in stints at Cumbrae’s and Olliffe’s — two of the most celebrated meat shops in the City.  His time as Head Butcher at Olliffe’s secured him a reputation as one of the best young butchers in town — not bad for a Peterborough kid.

Having gained both success and a name for himself, Madill has returned to his hometown, ready to treat Peterborough to some of the best sourced and immaculately prepared foods in the area.

Judging by the crowd gathered for his invite-only grand opening, Peterborough is more than ready to welcome him back.

“It’s quite a reintroduction,” he smiled, gazing across a makeshift sidewalk patio, specially cordoned off for the event.  “It’s good to be home.”

Madill’s shop is a meat-lover’s paradise.  3-inch thick rib steaks share a display with elegantly prepared racks of lamb.  Exquisitely marbled striploins line up against perfectly pink cuts of Tamshire pork.  It is easily the best looking butcher display in the area.   The shelves of Primal Cuts are also something to behold, with local honey stacked up besides scrumptious-looking local preserves.

It didn’t take long for me to find that the shop was as pleasing to the palate as it was to the eye.  Board after board of different cuts of steak circled the soirée — I was quick to try as many cuts as possible.  The beef was melt-in-the mouth spectacular.

In between bites, I managed to track Madill down.  He was busy keeping an eye on the party and welcoming well-wishers, but he took the time to chat.

One of my first questions, after congratulating him on the new business, was to ask after the sourcing policies put in place.  I wanted to know just how local, this “local” butcher was.

“First of all, I can tell you that, for me, the closer the farm, the better,” he replied.  “I am always looking for great farms close to Peterborough. And all of my meats are from Ontario.  But while I do look for farms as close as possible, I also look for farms that are producing the kind of animals that I want to work with.  And I look for farms that are producing animals in a way that I can appreciate and believe in.  I like to spend quite a bit of time at a farm before I decide to purchase from it.   I like to spend a lot of time talking to the farmer.  And I do quite a bit of research beforehand.  So, yes, some is very locally produced, and some is more regional in nature.”

He pointed to some beautifully rosy chops in the display case.

“Here’s an example,” he said.  “I heard about this great farm, where they were doing some unique things with [heritage variety] Hampshire pork.  So I went to visit, had a look around, and spent an afternoon on the farm.  I was impressed.  Very impressed.  The result?  I’m now the exclusive seller of this gorgeous whey-fed pork.”

Whey fed?

“Yes,” he grinned.  “They get whey produced from Empire Cheese in Campbellford and feed it to the Hampshire pigs –an otherwise very lean animal.  The result is an incredibly tender, absolutely delicious pork.”

And with that, I was sold.

Primal Cuts goes out of its way to source meat that has not been fed hormones or antibiotics — and that are GMO (genetically modified organism) free.  The animals they source are pasture fed and treated ethically.

“We take great care in maintaining an environmentally responsible carbon footprint,” says Madill.

I next asked him what his goals were for the store.

“Really, the one goal I have is to bring great food to Peterborough and the surrounding area,” he replied.  “Other than that, it’s just good to be home.  Seven years feels like a long time.  I miss this place like crazy.”

While Madill has plenty of friends in his hometown, he appears to be on the verge of gaining quite a few more.  At least once word of his shop filters through the City and County.

Quite simply, his store is just that good.  And his meats just that impressive.

I definitely know that I’ll be back.

You can find Primal Cuts at 550 Lansdowne Street West. Check out their website at http://primalcuts.ca. And follow them on Twitter at @primalcuts101