Over the weekend, I visited the Wakefield Farmer’s Market. This is a small community-based market located on the main drag next to the Alpengruss restaurant. I visit this market regularly as it holds a number of very special treats. This is where Nat sells her most excellent bonbons, and where a lovely woman makes spectacular jewelry using old pieces of jewelry that she refashions into something new and funky.
On this trip, I discovered that Serge from Saveurs des Mont Poultry is there selling a flavourful assortment of chicken sausages. I also picked up some smoked trout, and a sheep’s milk cheese from Fromagerie Les Folies Bergeres. We carry a few of their delicious cheeses in our retail store. And of course I purchased some tomatoes. I LOVE tomatoes but I can only really enjoy them when they are in season and grown locally. The rest of the year they just don’t taste as good.
Then I headed over to visit Alex & Juniper at their new farm on Shouldice Road just outside of Wakefield. They took over this farm about 18 months ago after moving from their initial location. They are doing amazing things there. They recently planted a fruit orchard, surrounded by 10 foot high mesh fencing to keep out the deer. They have partnered with a neighbouring beef farmer and are now selling grass feed beef in their roadside farm stand.
Their stand is open Monday to Saturday from noon until 7pm. They sell farm fresh eggs, salad greens, seasonal vegetables, Le Coprin mushrooms, maple syrup, honey, sunflower oil, lamb & beef. I picked up some sugar snap peas & rappini.
On the day we visited, we talked at length about the shortage of rain and the challenges of keeping the vegetables and animals happy in this sweltering heat. The pigs were so hot they wouldn’t come out from the shade in the bush to greet us, and the chickens had decided it was too hot to lay eggs.
The life of a farmer is not an easy path but I have never met a happier family who work together every day towards the realization of their dreams. They are an inspiration.
So, with all my farm fresh purchases I headed back to the Riverhouse and prepared myself a most excellent lunch. Red Apron potato salad, fresh sliced tomatoes, smoked trout and sheep’s milk cheese. Yum! Can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday.
Last Sunday we loaded up a bus with 35 friends, family, customers and colleagues and headed out to visit three farms in the Manotick/Osgoode region.
This was the second in a series of bus tours that we will schedule on a quarterly basis to connect our community with the farms that feed us.
Our first stop was for a tour of Suntech Greenhouses in Manotick. The initial facility was constructed in 1999 and covered 2.3 acres of the land. An additional twelve thousand square feet was added in the spring of 2001, bringing the greenhouse acreage to 2.5 acres. Since then, the infrastructure was increased by 1.5 acres in 2010, bringing the total greenhouse surface to 4 acres. Using state of the art hydroponic techniques Suntech provides premium quality produce and has been a supplier to the Red Apron for a number of years.
Our lively host and business owner Bob Mitchell toured us around the greenhouses, explaining the intricacies of hydroponic growing techniques. We learned about how they use good bugs to eat bad bugs, which music stations they find the most inspiring for their pickers, and the trials and tribulations of farming year round in our climate. The tour made us a bigger fan of their produce than we already were.
And of course, we were able to shop in their store for lovely fresh picked tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers, and eggplant for our picnic!
Our second stop was Clarmell on the Rideau, where Paul & Grace operate a fifth-generation farm that has been in the family for more than 100 years. In Recent years, Paul & Grace have moved from milking cows to milking goats, and produce a lovely Feta and Chevre, made 100% with their own goats’ milk, in a winning partnership with the Glengarry Fine Cheese Factory in Lancaster, Ontario.
Turns out that goats love having their picture taken. They also love attention, are extremely docile and super cuddly. Everyone fell in love with these creatures and we have all decided that we want to have one or two as pets.
The family welcomed us with open arms and had set up a farm stand full of baked goods, cheese & sweets. Again, we stocked up on items for our picnic and carried on to the next destination!
Millers’ Farm & Market near Manotick was founded in 1981. Best known for their berries –they grow red and purple raspberries, strawberries, gooseberries, elderberries and wild blueberries. When we arrived Susie Miller had put picnic tables under a tree for us to lay out our goodies on. We spread out the food and our picnic blankets and enjoyed a lovely meal of fresh vegetables, goat cheese, True loaf bread, terrines, berries & baked goods.
Then the Miller’s took us by tractor trailer to the picking fields where we loaded up our baskets with sweet juicy berries.
The weather was fantastic, the farmers were generous and gracious, and the company was fun. I would say a good time was had by all.
May 3, 2012
Here we are, one year almost to the day after we moved our entire operations across the street from 571 to 564 Gladstone. And almost 6 years after we launched our concept, we could not be more pleased.
In the last 12 months we have doubled our team (to 20 committed and passionate Foodies), while expanding our retail store revenues beyond our expectations. While our Fresh Meal Service continues to be enjoyed by hundreds of people every Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday (275 to be exact tonight), we feed at least as many customers through our front door every day of the week (Monday through Saturday).
So tonight, in celebration, we have created a menu that features all of our ‘favourite things’.
Fitzroy Beef Farmers have been our primary supplier of quality hormone and antibiotic free beef for more than 3 years. Although Flank Steak is tricky for us to serve, we felt that it really represented the best we had to offer when it comes to beef. Enjoyed rare, and re-heated gently, this flavourful cut is a real treat that we only put on the menu once every 8-10 weeks.
Beau’s Beer has become an Ottawa favourite in the last few years, and aside from enjoying a pint or two, our staff love to cook with it, and it has become a staple ingredient in our Amazing Beer & Caramelized Onion dip – available every week in our retail store.
The potato salad in our celebration dinner is flavoured with a variety of mushrooms from Le Coprin and Aldergrove mushroom farms, both local and organic mushroom suppliers who deliver to us on a weekly basis. We have also added Blue Ermite Cheese, made at the Abbaye Saint-Benoît-du-Lac cheese factory, part of a Benedictine monastery 150 kilometres southeast of Montreal. We have been carrying this cheese in our retail store for almost 3 years.
The slaw in tonight’s meal contains the last Apples from the overwintered cellars at Hall’s Orchard, You can buy from this family owned business every weekend at both the Ottawa and Main Street Farmer’s markets. We also carry their ciders in our retail store (fresh & sparkling). They also supplied us with pears well into the winter this year.
The maple syrup used to sweeten the vinaigrette in tonight’s meal, and sold in our retail shoppe comes from La Ferme Älska where Geneviève & Gabriel tap trees in their family owned sugar bush.
The yogurt flatbread comes from Rinag foods, a local business that makes specialty Indian foods for the Ottawa market, and has been a supplier of Naan bread & Samosas to the Red Apron for almost 6 years.
And finally to finish this meal, we are making our extremely popular and somewhat famous Red Apron Nut Free Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. This recipe came to the Red Apron with Jo-Ann and has been a customer favourite since day 1.
And to top it off, Megan has made 275 hand rolled rose buds out of – you guessed it – Carrot! A flower for every staff member and customer who is enjoying this special anniversary dinner with us tonight.
Thank you for another fantastic year!
Jennifer & Jo-Ann
Canadian Red Fife Wheat is an heirloom variety, developed for the cold harsh climate of Canada. This heritage wheat has experienced growing popularity of late for many reasons, including the health benefits. A detailed exploration of this wonderful national treasure was explored last Thursday in Laura Robin’s article on the font page of the food section of the Ottawa Citizen.
We are also carrying a Red Fife Sticky Toffee Bun with Irish Cream Glaze. Get em while their hot!
New to our retail store we have added chocolates from Olivia Chocolatiers. This Cantley based chocolate maker is dedicated to making only high percentage dark chocolate - a fine and nutritious superfood. What attracted us to the product, aside from it’s local-ness, is the fact that their chocolate is made bean-to-bar from ethically traded, responsibly grown, certified organic, single-origin cocoa from the Caribbean Islands. Using only Criollo and Trinitario varieties, which represent less than 10% of the world cocoa production, Olivia chooses to slow roast at lower temperatures to maintain the nutrient value and flavours of the raw bean.
In our retail store we are carrying the small 12 gram chocolates in four flavours: 86% raw, 76% Artisan Maple, 76% artisan and 86% Artisan.
But the really exciting part is that we are using the 76% Artisan Maple in some of our baked goods. One of the great things about what we do is that by cooking seasonally, and constantly seeking out new suppliers and producers, we encourage our kitchen to experiment with new things all the time. Our latest creation? The Maple Chocolate Bun. Organic flour, 76% Artisan Maple Chocolate, Alska Syrup and some Maple Sugar Flakes to finish it off!
We are Mothers, residents of our community, entrepreneurs as well as active participants in our local economy. We individually have a history of owning and operating successful local businesses.
Our commitment to getting people “back to the table” starts at home and extends to our community through a number of philanthropic endeavours.