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Reporting from Feast of Fields 2009

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If there is a better way to enjoy the fall harvest, point me in the right direction. Otherwise, the best place to head to is the Feast of Fields. While Don was busy with his crew at the dish pit, I was fortunate enough to attend with a media pass. As I was a first time attendee, I was not sure what to expect, but I did hope to see many happy faces and people passionate about food. After spending more than six hours there, Feast of Fields exceeded all my expectations and more! On this post, I’ll be discussing the food, while writing another entry about the crowd and Grow Up Organic. Also, more pictures of the event and the food will be included. This entry will be long enough!

However, before commenting on the food, I think it is very important to mention the tremendous work of the volunteers. Many arrived before 9 a.m. and stayed right to the very end. Without these hardworking people, this event would not exist. Hats off to all the volunteers!

Now, onto the food! With twenty-five farmer-chef teams to choose from, it was impossible to eat everything, but there were many standouts.

Ferme aux Saveurs des Monts/ Fairmount Château Montebello

Stuffed chicken

Stuffed chicken

My favourite, and voted 2009?s winning farmer/chef food team, was from Ferme aux Saveurs des Monts with Fairmount Château Montebello at table #11. The chicken was stuffed with green Swiss chard, roasted pumpkin, cranberries, and pine nuts, topped with a gingery apple compote and a tuile of balsamic vinegar and sugar. The presentation was beautiful and the chicken was succulent.

Butterfly Sky Farm/Domus Café

Tomato crostini

Tomato crostini

Chef John Taylor?s (Domus Café) creation was a crowd pleaser. His brightly coloured cherry tomato crostini was a beauty. Grilled house-made bread topped with orange & yellow cherry tomatoes, basil, vinaigrette, fresh green shoots, and grated Canadian Romano cheese. Chef Taylor was kind enough to make mine cheese-free as cheese disagrees with me. The flavours were remarkable, especially the cherry tomatoes, sweet and stunningly fresh. I felt as though they were picked off the vines right there and placed on the bread. The freshness, colours, the presentation, and flavours were simply exquisite.

Bryson Farms/Epicuria

Heirloom carrot & beet salad and a panzanella salad

Heirloom carrot & beet salad and a panzanella salad

Another table featuring the best of the fall harvest was the team of Bryson Farms with Epicuria. Chef Tracey Black?s creation was an heirloom carrot and beet salad with grapefruit dressing and a panzanella salad with Art-Is-In croutons, maldon sea salt, lemon, and extra virgin olive oil. Unfortunately, I was unable to sample mine as Don, hungry from hours spent washing dishes, accidentally ate my share after eating his plate of food. However, according to him, it was fresh, crunchy, and harvest sweet. It is only in autumn when you can get this flavour. Paired with the citrus, the sugars from the beets had a competing brightness, not overpowering. This is high praise from Don as he generally dislikes pickled beets. For Don, Epicuria?s dishes were one of his favourites.

Ashton Glen Farms/Imperial Food & Beverage

Smoky braised beef on a taco

Smoky braised beef on a taco

As I approached table #10, my mouth was watering. There in front of me were trays of smoky braised beef on a taco with red onion jam and horseradish cream. The flavours were simply amazing. The beef was smoky, savory, and incredibly tender. The red onion jam gave it a brightness and sweetness, while the horseradish cream gave a nice bite, just enough fat to carry the flavours. Also worth mentioning is that Ashton Glen Farms/Imperial Food Beverage were winners in the best booth/team category for presentation.

Wright Poultry & Beef/The Piggy Market

Delicious traditional cottage pie

Delicious traditional cottage pie

Sometimes, classic comfort food can be elevated to a new level when high quality ingredients are used. Such was the case with Chef Dave Neil (The Piggy Market) and his take on the traditional cottage pie. Don and I often visit his store, buying sausages, roast chicken, goat cheese, and pretty much anything else Dave can convince Don to buy. I, on the other hand, always leave the store with a new bucket of Pascale’s Ice Cream. (If you were at the event, you would have seen the never-ending lineup for her famous ice cream!) Now, back to the pie? think well seasoned beef and fresh sweet peaches and cream corn kernels topped with buttery mashed potatoes. Are you drooling yet? I happily had at least two servings, and stole some more from Don?s plate when he wasn?t looking.

Mariposa Farms

Smoked goose breast terrine (left hand side, below the business card)

Smoked goose breast terrine (left hand side, below the business card)

Mariposa Farms? creation of smoked goose breast terrine topped with sweet pickled yellow and red beet roots and garnished with chioggia beet chips (also known as candy cane beet root) was another favourite. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of mine before eating, but managed to take a quick snap of Don?s before he inhaled his. (The goose breast is under the orange business card of Dish ? I have no idea why Don stuck the card there). According to him, it was fatty, savory, and flavourful, everything that a goose should be!

During the two hours the food was being served, I managed to sample at least half of the fantastic dishes. This event is definitely appropriately named. For those who paid anywhere from $25 to $50, they could certainly eat their money?s worth. Meanwhile, the chefs and farmers were all cheerful, gracious, and very friendly, happily serving the public and answering all kinds of questions. Congratulations to all the farmer-chef teams on their fantastic work. I?ll be back next year!

Teacher by day and blogger by night, I have always been passionate about food. I grew up watching my mother cook and bake as I sat at the kitchen table doing my homework. In the summers, I happily played in the backyard garden, picking strawberries as my parents tended their crops. A city girl with a love for the outdoors, my goal is to capture the ever-changing Ottawa food scene. When I’m not running, you can find me shopping for ingredients or in the kitchen cooking for my family and friends. Whether you’ve been cooking for a long time or are learning to cook for the first time, I hope you will find something delicious here to inspire you.