Artisan Tasting Fair 2013: a crafty crowd pleaser

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I waited anxiously for my hubby to awake this past Sunday.  It was 10.30 and he still wasn’t up and I knew the Artisan Tasting Fair in Toronto started at 11.00.  He finally dragged himself out of bed and as he was drinking his first of many daily coffees (I am convinced he is a javaholic), I reminded him that I wanted to go to the Tasting Show.  He gave me a funny look and had no idea what I was talking about.  I knew I had told him about this show earlier in the week.  Selective memory for sure!  After finally convincing him, we were off to Wychwood Barns to enjoy amazing cheese, charcuterie, bread and beer.  My mouth was watering just thinking about all the incredible awaiting treats.

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The show was packed.  The rain obviously did not deter anyone. It was difficult even to belly up to each booth with the crowds.  But armed with a cardboard plate and a bamboo fork I was determined to get my share of the scrumptious samples.

EPI Breads

EPI Breads

First stop was the EPI Breads where I sampled a pecan and fruit bread with just a tiny hint of sweetness. My hubby who loves rye bread enjoyed their rye sourdough.  Next I was lucky enough to try one of their croissants.  My only critique was their samples were just not large enough.  Total yum yum!

Tania

Tania

After my bread bites, it was time for cheese please.   Tania sheep’s milk cheese from Lenberg Farms – who had won several awards in the sheep milk category – did not disappoint.  Aged for over 6 months, this semi-firm smooth cheese was surprisingly mellow.  I also tried Lindsay Bandaged Cheddar made with 100% Ontario goat’s milk.  This cheese is wrapped in a bandaged rind to preserve freshness and flavour and aged for 12 months.  I have to admit, I have had a lot of goat cheese in my days as I have a strong connection to C’estbon Cheese from St. Marys Ontario (disappointed it was not available at this show after being a featured listing). I have yet to find a goat cheese of comparable quality to C’estbon, but Lindsay’s cheese was tantalizingly close and well worth a try.

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Sanagan's Meat Locker

Sanagan’s Meat Locker

Bread and cheese – check.  Two down and two to go. Next temptation station was Sanagans  Meat Locker where Peter convinced my hubby to try chicken liver topped with a wine maple jelly.  He was not a big fan, but I loved it!   The combination of the smooth tangy savoury pate with the perfect touch of sweetness in the jelly made this a very delightful pairing.

Double Trouble Brewery

Double Trouble Brewery

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Does a small sample of bread, cheese, and meat constitute lunch?  Yes.  Time for beer.  My hubby who was in the beer business for many years was excited to try the craft breweries fair.  Let’s get serious  – the only way I got him to this show was to entice him with free beer. I had to explain what charcuterie was for heaven’s sake! First beer stop was Double Trouble Brewery .  I have to applaud all these artisan breweries – Double Trouble, Hogtown, Beau’s, etc. – for having creatively taken beer to a new enjoyable level.  The retro and renegade graphic packaging and grass roots marketing from these micro brewers is truly refreshing.  Hubby  joyously downed a shot of “Fire in the Rye” ale and a glass of “Prison Break” lager.

Laura Slack

Laura Slack

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Now for dessert.  My choices were endless, but I knew exactly where I was going first – the Laura Slack  booth. I was lucky enough to sample two different truffles: a  pure dark chocolate and a pure milk chocolate.  These hand painted truffles are exquisite in both style and taste.  The creamy ganache centres literally melted in my mouth.  I picked up a box of her signature skull truffles which are simply brilliant (“Mom’s of Diet Anarchy”, anyone?).   Well those chocolates were definitely amazing, but a tad small for my liking, so I still needed something of greater substance.  How about – DONUTS!  I bee lined over to Ashley’s booth of Glory Hole Donuts.  I was SO excited to see entire donuts from this exhibitor instead of a small tiny sample which is often the norm at these types of affairs.  Now I had heard plenty about these donuts from the press and my brother who had raved about their maple bacon donut, so I was truly anxious to try these treats.  My choice was the cinnamon sugar.  Perhaps I picked an unlucky hole, but mine was a bit dry and for my taste a definite drink dunker.   Though I was somewhat disappointed with my selection, the little boy next to me was more than content with his round treat.

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Ordered one last glass of  beer (we had to use our tickets with admission somewhere) and our tummies were topped up.  We had met some remarkably talented artisans, but sadly the show was starting to wrap up.  I dashed around the booths a final time to determine if there were any more purchases I needed to make.  I left hubby happily sipping his “Hogtown” brew and off I went.  I purchased some Fois Gras – an excellent holiday entertaining specialty – from Cote De Boeuf Gallery . I also picked up three pear almond tarts from the Dough Bakeshop for later at home (I admit they didn’t last the car ride and were AMAZING!)

Cote De Bouef

Cote De Boeuf

Dough Bakery

Dough Bakeshop

This was the first Artisan Tasting Fair and the show’s organizers deserve to be congratulated on hosting what hopefully becomes an annual GTA event.  There was plenty to see and taste and I suspect the show will grow (like attending guests) even more down the road. I know me and hubby left the show thoroughly content and we will look forward to doing it again in 2014.

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