>If you’re looking for something delicious to do this glorious summer weekend, take off for a few days and explore Stratford. Sunday is the day for the Stratford Slow Food Farmers’ Market. What a fantastic market and what a fantastic marriage of a farmers’ market and the international Slow Food organization. Stratford has one of Ontario’s strongest Slow Food chapters and this is their market run by food blogger Steve Stacey local-come-lately.blogspot.com.
Farmer, Brendon Lyoness of Caveman Crops is at the Slow Food booth along with Fred de Martines of Perth Pork Products. Fred raises the Tamworth, Berkshire and Wild Boar that all the restaurants go crazy over. There is Bizjak Farms from Beamsville with load of fresh strawberries and apples and of course Lindsay the baker who surprised me with a real croissant. Says it’s easy to make them for the market because people love a treat on Sunday mornings.
The market is right in the heart of downtown Stratford and if you know the beautiful town with the Stratford Chefs School and Stratford Festival Theatre at its heart, you know that it’s a great foodie town filled with farmers and folk that appreciate the finer things in life.
I met Shawn Hartwell of the Simple Fish Co. He also owns a restaurant called Simple Fish & Chips, with a twist and while his place may be casual and welcoming, it’s anything but simple. Shawn started out like many restauranteurs planning according to numbers on a business plan but soon decided to take a different turn with his restaurant, upping the quality by buying only seasonal river fish from trusted sources.
Hartwell tells me that perch and pickerel from Lake Huron are in season. He’s also buying any fish that runs up river right now meaning salmon from the Frasier or Stikine Rivers in British Columbia. Soon he says he’ll get fish from the Columbia River. Hartwell knows the seasons for fresh fish, like I know my vegetables.
Shawn is at the Slow Food Farmers’ Market offering a wide variety of fresh fish – pity I had no way to keep it cool until I got home, but lesson learned. I’m traveling with a cooler and ice pack in my car from now on!
Had lunch at the York Street Kitchen. It’s where I always go when I’m in the mood for something that packs a simple explosion of flavour. This little sandwich place should never be underestimated. Here a simple smoked turkey sandwich creates as much excitement, surprise, contentment and satisfaction as one would expect from high-end gourmet restaurant run by celebrity chefs. Plan on a long wait during lunch and dinner so do what I do, go mid-afternoon!
Downtown Stratford has more to do than one can pack into a weekend including perhaps a rare Bieber sighting, so go directly to the tourism office on Downie Street and they’ll help you narrow down your options.