Creemore is an adorable town about 30 minutes west of Barrie and is home to the famous Creemore Springs Brewery. On August 28th, the city hosted the “Made in Creemore” Locavore Lunch in a park at the edge of town. The lunch had a homey, yet high-end picnic feel to it. Live country music was the backdrop as guests flitted between the appetizer and booze tents, nibbling and drinking away as the 5 guest chefs prepared the main courses.
Many of the ingredients, as the name suggests, comes from the area around Creemore, and there was certainly a harvest feel to all the dishes. Along with fresh oysters from Oyster Boy, 3 Creemore restaurants served up a range of appetizers: a roulade of Georgian Bay Lake Trout stuffed with watercress, pickerel and leek (Chez Michel), an ear of corn with rosemary goat cheese dip (The Old Mill House Pub), and, my personal favourite, a “mini” (it was actually huge) lamb cabbage roll (The Sovereign).
The scent of smoked meat permeated the air as we took our seats on muslin-covered hale bales (in place of chairs) at blue gingham tablecloth covered picnic tables, which were dotted with fresh sunflowers in mason jars.
And the food was just as beautiful as the setting. Each guest chef/restaurant was responsible for a different course, and each dish was paired with a local alcoholic beverage – from Georgian Hills wines, to Creemore Springs beers, and even a a smooth, non-carbonated Reserve Cider from Spirit Tree Estate.
The first course was a local corn and seasonal vegetable soup created by the team at Bohmer, topped with a deliciously salty slice of bacon. This was followed by Hiro Sushi’s “wild & mochi rice steamed with local mushrooms& BC oyster and smoked Georgian Bay White Fish served in dashi broth” with a dollop of wasabi – the plating of this dish, in one of the largest oyster shells I’ve ever seen, was met with oooohs and ahhhhs around the table.
The Drake Hotel followed with a playful take on a BLT, described as “Drake Smoked Dingo Farms Bacon with Cookstown Tomatoes, Chill Mayo & Brothers Junipers Cornbread.” The bacon was thickly cut and perfectly fatty, and was an excellent intermezzo before the last main dish, presented by the team at Canoe: “Norm MacEachern’s Organic Chicken, Wheatberry and Northern Woods Mushroom Risotto, Canoe Pickles & Preserves.” I would have happily fought Mark over that risotto if I wasn’t saving room for the last two courses: a cheese plate by Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Co and the dessert, created by Eigensinn Farm. The dessert, overly simplistically described as “Composition from Local Summer Fruits with Marzipan Chocolate” was outstanding, and without a doubt, the favourite of all dishes served.
This locavore lunch was a wonderful event and an excellent opportunity to sample some of the best that Creemore has to offer, served up by some of the best chefs in Ontario.