Monday, 17 October 2011
We arrived at Foodstock at about a quarter after eleven, just after it officially started. This is where we got a parking spot. You can see more-or-less where the entrance is, off to the right of the porta-potties in the distance. We took this for a good sign.
Foodstock, in case anyone has missed hearing about it, was an event put on by the Canadian Chef's Congress and the Stop the Quarry group, to raise funds to fight the proposed 2300 acre quarry in Melancthon township. They had asked for a $10 donation from attenders, and I would say they did well. I saw people passing in multiple envelopes - I think quite a few people gathered up donations from friends who couldn't come, and I heard someone comment that a number of people had come up to drop off donations without coming in.
The event itself was held in and about a large maple bush. Some straw had been put down to fight the mud - not enough, as it turned out, but it did help.
We started lining up to sample the offerings of the chefs. I'm a bad reporter; I didn't get the name of this restaurant (actually, I'm pretty sure it was a golf club) but the dish was rabbit and chicken stewed with chocolate, with cherry preserves and a profiterole. It was very rich, and very good.
On the other hand we knew these folks! They're from Simplicity Bistro in Thornbury, close to home. They made a lovely browned butter and Jerusalem artichoke soup.
The place was not too crowded yet, and so we could see that the woods was full of rather rustic and organic sculptures.
Oysters, from Oyster Boys, in Toronto.
A smoked fish paté on a kale leaf, with chips. A number of the chefs had made chips, as the threatened farmland is known for producing most of Ontario's potatoes.
Smoked fish on raw daikon, with raw garlic - much better than it sounds - from Sakura, in Toronto.
This was a welcome dish - a chopped salad from, I think, Bruce Wine Bar in Thornbury.
Janice Suarez, a pastry chef from Niagara on the Lake, served this deceptively plain looking apple-pumpkin loaf, which I thought was one of the best things I ate.
By now the place was filling up. It was a very large space, but there were plainly a lot of people there.
A display of some of the potatoes grown in the area.
A map shows the outline of the proposed quarry superimposed over a map of Toronto. Yes, it's truly huge. Worse, it's at the headwaters of 5 major southern Ontario rivers. As one of the people I chatted with in line said, this is all about the groundwater.
When we first arrived line-ups were not more than a minute or two long, but they soon got to be quite long! Fortunately most of them moved fairly briskly.
Haisai Restaurant and Bakery in Singhampton made what I thought was pizza, until I got right up to it. It turned out to be a grilled apple tart that was lovely, not too sweet and swimming in cinnamon.
Eiginsinn Farm had the next spot (they are both Michael Stadlander projects) and they were serving a vegetable soup with pickled squash on a raw cabbage leaf. I admit that so many chefs were serving rich meaty things on white bready things that I greeted that cabbage leaf with great enthusiasm. Soup wasn't half bad either.
And I believe that's chef Stadtlander there, hacking cabbage with the best of them. I also believe that Foodstock was originally his idea.
The folks from Lennox farm were there too, giving away bags of Brussels sprouts.
Another familiar face - Ruth Klahsen from Monforte Dairy.
Poutini's, serving poutine, naturally. I admit I didn't have any. I had pretty much reached the point of not being able to eat anything more at least half an hour previously.
Oh, and another familiar face! Chef Robin Pradhan from Rocky Raccoon in Owen Sound with a lovely vegetable curry that was a welcome change of pace from all the rich food.
No longer sure who this was or what they had, but the display was interesting... love the necklace.
Last call at Buca (Toronto). Like a lot of the chefs, they had brought thousands of portions, but still ran out in the face of the huge numbers of people attending.
Click on the above picture to see some of the cars parked at the sides of the roads all around, even though the space allotted to parking was huge.
Chefs and their tables filled the paths through the woods, and all around the outsides on three sides too.
There were a few people there with coffee - and on a cool, windy afternoon (with a few showers as time went on) it was gratefully received. Was this Alternative Grounds, from Toronto? I think so.
As the afternoon went on, music started up at the stage. I have to admit I didn't stay for the music or the speeches to follow - never my favourite part of political events. Yeah, I'm bad.
There were a number of artists and musicians who had spots throughout the site as well as the chefs.
But by 2:30, we were pretty pooped. We decided to head home. A number of other people were leaving, but more were still coming in. I asked on the way out, and they told me that the last count as of 2:00 pm was that 18,000 people had been there, so I'm sure they made the expected 20,000 easily before the day was done.
I haven't seen anything about this on the CBC site, or the Globe and Mail. There were a few photos (kind of hard to find) at the Star. NOTE: and an article too, but also hard to find. On the other hand, I hope and believe that this event raised a lot of money for the fight against the mega-quarry. And it's not too late to donate. This will be a long and protracted fight, so please consider what you can do to support it. There will be more info at Stop the Quarry.
(And if I've made any errors in identifying people in this post, I'm sorry - and happy to get corrections.) EDITED TO ADD: Final count apparently a bit over 28,000 people! WOW!