Friday, July 27, 2012

Local Food Fair!

Not huge, but really a lot of fun. Peppers, the food store on the left of the photo, held a local food producers fair yesterday, to advertise many of the brands they carry. With the two large exhibition tents set up on the right, people started showing up even before the producers had set up.
In addition to Level Ground (about whom I've written before), there were3 numerous other producers, several of whom I was unaware. Portofino is not one of them.
Portofino Bakery
Portofino makes a large variety of breads and supplies a number of outlets, from Peppers to Hotel Grand Pacific. They've become a significant voice among local food producers.
Daksha's Gourmet Spices is producing a line of curry mixes: Butter Chicken, Chicken Curry, Korma, Tikka Masala, Tandoori,Vindaloo, Spicy Fish,Chana Masala, Aloo Gobi and Daal.

Daksha's Gourmet Spices--one happy vendor!

They also offer a caffeine-free chai tea that was very nice. Interestingly, there was a fair bit of ginger in it, leaving a nice ginger bite in the back of my mouth.

Roots and Shoots
Roots and Shoots offers pea, sunflower, and buckwheat sprouts grown in Fernwood--the neighbourhood Paula and I first lived in together 30+ years ago. I wasn't a big fan of the buckwheat, but the sunflower and pea were terrific.

Cold Comfort Ice Creammmmmm
Cold Comfort frozen desserts. What can I say? She drives an S-Cargo, for pity's sake, and makes a blueberry and lavender sorbet the flavour of which was so intense I almost fell on my knees. And she's got a taste for vintage and quirky. I was falling in love!
Business card image from Cold Comfort website

But seriously, the sorbet was insane. It was this concentrated blueberry flavour that redeemed blueberries. I don't particularly like blueberries (I much prefer wild Saskatoons), but this was excellent. And the mini-cup sample was actually quite satisfying because the flavour was so intense.

Cowichan Pasta--so good!

Cowichan Pasta: Spot prawn ravioli. Squash and hazelnut ravioli. Fresh pastas like wakame or chanterelle spaghetti. Wild-harvested stinging nettle rotini. And he used an Untamed Feast blend of wild picked mushrooms to make a cream sauce that brought out the mushroom without ignoring the pasta.
I found the hazelnut and squash ravioli was a bit too hazelnut for me--not bad, just overwhelming.
Saltspring Sunrise Premium Edibles

Hazelnut was the "new thing" this year. Saltspring Sunrise Premium Edibles offered not only hazelnut and walnut oils, but hazelnut flour as well. The growing inability of people to tolerate wheat and corn is certainly opening up the market for new flours; teff is one example, and hazelnut is another.
The Saltspring Sunrise oils were good: the walnut was very good, the walnut flavour not too strong. The hazelnut oil was a bit of a surprise after the squash and hazelnut pasta; the oil is mostly just a medium weight oil that only finishes with a clear hazelnut taste. This would be good on a salad, of course, but I'd like to try deep frying with it, to see what taste it would leave behind.
Saltspring Sunrise--walnut and hazelnut oils and wooden spoons
Saltspring Sunrise was also the only outfit to be using non-plastic one use spoons. They used formed wood spoons that were both renewable and compostable.
Eve's Garden Vegetarian Patés
Meeting Eve of Eve's Garden was a treat. She cares passionately about her patés and has worked hard on their texture. I found them grainy without being mealy, if that makes sense. they were toothsome, felt like they had some density, but without the sensation of having a mouthful of sand. The original flavour was nice, but a bit too mellow for my taste. The spicy, on the other hand, was much more to my taste, with a mild start and a more spicy finish.

Holy Homous, Batman!
Holy Homous comes with the slogan "Eat Soon--Buy More" and that seems about right. The red pepper version was great. Much as I intended to, I never did make it back for the garlic version.

Melinda's Biscotti

Melinda's Biscotti. What can I say? Good biscotti.

Niko's Dips

The young lady working Niko's Dips was doing a great job of getting people to taste the dips. I had the Bold Curry version on chicken and it was terrific; a sweet edge with a moderate heat, this is a sauce that I will probably end up experimenting with.

Prepping chicken for dipping
I was amazed that they were grilling chicken at the table for people to sample with their dip. it struck me as very labour intensive and expensive. But it was, from a taster's point of view, worth it. They were lucky I didn't just stay there, growling at anyone else who dared approach what was clearly my turf.

Rock Coast--chocolate, toffee, and smoked salt!
But had I done that, I would have missed the remarkable Arbutus Bark from Rock Coast: English toffee, chocolate, and alder-smoked salt. The toffee grabbed my teeth, the chocolate was dark, and the salt made it irresistible.

Abuelo's Corn Tortillas--all pressed by hand!

But Abuelo's Corn Tortillas had to take the cake for labour-intensive. Not only was she hand-forming each tortilla, but then they were dropped on a hot griddle, flipped, sprinkled with cheese, folded and heated until the cheese melted, but then were served with Salsa Verdé. the salsa alone was worth the trip, and the tortillas were exactly what she wanted to serve.

There were more producers, like Moonstruck Cheese from Saltspring Island (The Tomme D'or is a family favourite, and the Beddis Blue is superb), Bean Boy Homous (four flavours: Curry Currant, Sweet Chili Lime, Smoky Tomato Chipotle, and Spicy Black Bean), and Farmhouse Poultry (who were serving chicken sausage). Natural Pastures brought an excellent Boerenkass cheese that will bear repeated snacking at our house. And this was a small percentage of the great local producers who are trying to bring us better things to eat on the Island.

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