March 1st marked the annual Stratford Women in Food dinner, the last dinner of the year at the Stratford Chef’s School.
This event is a great gathering of the Stratford women who focus their time, energy, and talent in the food industry. While I didn’t count our number, I’d estimate there were more than two dozen of us. Guests included my BFF Anne Campion of Revel Caffè (whom I met at last year’s dinner), Ruth Klasen of Monforte Dairy, Ingrid De Martines from Perth Pork Products, producers of heritage pork, Susan Dunfield of Down The Street , Lisa Rankin from Flavors of Paris, Kimberly Payne, Executive Director of the Stratford Chefs School as well as Eleanor Kane, co-founder of the Stratford Chefs School and The Culinary Women’s Network 2012 Women of the Year just to name a few. Can you say wow?
What a feast awaited us: the student chef was Cortney Zettler who created an incredible menu by Connie DeSousa of Charcut Roast House in Calgary who also brought along her pastry chef, Suzanne Cooke. The sponsoring winery was Creekside Estate Winery. Connie DeSousa is no stranger to Stratford having been a guest speaker and presenter at Savour Stratford Perth County Culinary Festival last season.
We were seated family style, roughly eight to a table giving us a wonderful opportunity to get to know each other and compare taste notes on the food and wine.
A cocktail of golden tequila, orange juice, lime and a basil garnish accompanied by grilled octopus Portuguese style helped us all warm up.
Our first course was a heritage turkey and chicken liver terrine, with hazelnuts and preserved quince. Ingrid de Martines, who was at my table commented that although she didn’t care much for turkey she really enjoyed the terrine because it tasted like pork. Hearty and rich, it was.
And our wine? What a treat to have Creekside’s 2000 ‘X’ Blanc des Blancs. When was the last time you had a 12-year-old sparkling wine? I must admit I could drink that all day, everyday. Delicate mousse flavors halfway to sherry as wine maker Rob Powers explained and a refreshing citrus finish. A beautiful match to the hazelnuts.
Rob told us he was very excited to be pairing with Charcut’s “hearty meats” that Creekside’s Sauvignon Blanc and Shiraz can easily match.
And we found out just how well in our next two courses: black kale, bottarga, lemon preserve with a slow cooked egg (a yolk that spreads like butter and a just-set white) for the 2009 Reserve Sauvignon Blanc and a 2008 Broken Press Shiraz for the meat.
About the meat: I can’t tell you how exciting to have a couple of large (and I mean B.I.G.) beef shanks sitting in the middle of your table. It evoked something primitive and thrilling. And I can’t have been alone because there were squeals all around.
The unbelievably tender beef was accompanied by pillow-soft polenta, Cinderella squash, fresh goat cheese atop sweet scones and jars of gremolata. There was so much, we took home leftovers.
The meal finished with olive oil cake and pistachio gelato. And as if that wasn’t enough, truffles. A truly outstanding meal with exceptional wines.
I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so much; every bite full of intense and complex flavours.
49 Griffith Road East
Perth Pork Products
R.R. #1 Sebringville
Down The Street
30 Ontario Street, Stratford
50 Wellington Street, Stratford
Flavors of Paris
Charcut Roast House
101,899 Centre St SW