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TASTE PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY FOOD FESTIVAL - PICTON ONTARIO

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Taste! Community Grown festival.<br>Picton, Ontario
Taste! Community Grown festival.
Picton, Ontario
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Dried corn stalks, orange pumpkins and multi-coloured squash decorated the entrance to the Loch Sloy Hangars in Picton, Ontario (address: 343 County Road 22). Food and beverage stands filled the building during the annual food festival on the second last Saturday in September.

Date for the 2018 Picton Taste! Community Grown event is September 22. Hours are 11 am to 5 pm.

Free admission for kids

The cost of admission to Taste! Community Grown is $20. Children under 12 years old have free admission.

Food and drink samples are one to six tickets. Additional Taste tickets cost two dollars each.

We bought tickets to the event in advance. The fee entitled the Prince Edward County festival participants to free parking, free workshops, a free wine glass, tote bag, art exhibits and entertainment for kids and adults.

Visitors sipped and sampled treats from the food vendors, wineries, farmers, breweries and cider companies listed on the festival's website.

A camaraderie developed as people recommended dishes. "You must try Waring House's lamb ragout," said one man. "I could've eaten a pot of Angeline's lamb vegetable gratin," said another. "I hope no one's looking, because I'm going to lick the plate."

Tastings

We met Ted Maczka. "I love garlic," he said. We were not surprised. Two fist-sized garlic heads bulged from the brim of his red baseball cap.

Fish Lake Garlic Man, Ted Maczka
Fish Lake Garlic Man, Ted Maczka
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

The Fish Lake Garlic Man moved to Prince Edward County in 1978 to "grow garlic and spread the gospel of its goodness." And its scent. He showed us a jar of pickled garlic, which he made by blending garlic with vodka.

A jazz band played as we met Sonja and Dino Iannuzzi at the Capricorn View Goat Farm stand. They lifted lids covering the ribs, goat steaks and meatballs. The delicious aromas made us hungry. We gave Sonja six tickets for a tasty steak in wine sauce.

"Our pesto-stuffed ribs won first prize at a previous Taste! event," said Sonja. Judges award annual handcrafted trophies for the best dishes made with regional ingredients, the best beer, cider and wine food pairings, the best decorated booth and the best savoury and sweet uses of regional ingredients.

Wine pairing

The creativity astounded us. Prince Edward County restaurants, hotels, winemakers, brewers and farmers served diverse dishes like grilled lamb poutine, spit-roasted wild boar, mini emu burgers, elk chili, maple pulled pork sandwiches, lamb consommé with truffled meat dumplings, and braised lamb and apple ravioli wrapped with eggplant.

Claramount Inn paired award-winning maple smoked salmon on savoury lemon pepper biscotti and late summer corn relish with Norman Hardie Riesling. Acoustic Grill served pork tenderloin medallion marinated in County Premium Cider, grilled over apple wood chips, and paired with carrot and cucumber salad and County Cider Company's Waupoos Draft Cider.

Taste! Community Grown attracts food and wine-lovers from Ontario and from as far as Florida. "I'm a Prince Edward County girl," said Chrissy Poitras, who now lives in Kingston, "but I come home to eat foods that I can't find elsewhere." She smacked her lips as Paulo Dinkel served her apple fritters.

Artisan cheese-making seminar
Artisan cheese-making seminar
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Cheese making

Petra Cooper, owner of Fifth Town Artisan Cheese and founder of the Ontario Cheese Society, conducted a free seminar. Her topic? Making artisan cheese from store-bought milk. Her garlic and chive, walnut and chili oil white cheeses tasted as good as they looked.

We recalled a previous year's seminar by Chef Andrea Mut, Director of The Waring House Cookery School, on how to cook with county beers. Our mouths watered as she prepared Barley Days Brewery Wind & Sail Dark Ale curried lamb pie and maple ricotta beggar's purses with Barley Days Brewery Harvest Gold Pale Ale. (Barley Days micro brewery was previously the Glenora Springs Brewery.)

Prince Edward County Wine Route and Homegrown Ontario representatives also gave seminars. A Farmer's Market sold fresh fruit, vegetables and local products, like Black River Cheese, in open-air stands.

A highlight of the Taste Community Grown festival is the competition where chefs competed to create dishes made from a surprise selection of Prince Edward County ingredients.

Slickers ice cream
Slickers ice cream
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Ice cream

Dessert time! Do we choose butter tarts, county apple cake, pumpkin roulade with buttercrunch cream, or Black River cheddar with Iced County Cider? We couldn't resist Slickers rich apple pie, Concord grape and campfire creme two-ticket cones. The latter tasted just like burnt marshmallows.

"We've made over 150 flavours," said Marie Frye. "Try our basil and lavender ice creams," added co-owner, Pat Hacker. The aromatic flavours exploded on our taste buds.

They were perfect endings to our celebration of Prince Edward County foods, wines, beers and ciders.


TRAVEL INFORMATION

Taste! Community Grown: www.TasteCommunityGrown.com

More things to see and do in Ontario:

Stratford Ontario - Theater and Attractions

Pembroke - Waterfront Art Gallery in Ottawa Valley

Toronto Chinatown Walking Tour

Niagara Wine Festival Parade, Tastings, Touring Passport

Couples Resort Getaway