Wheat flour, winning food, and Will Ferrell come together...
Of course, as a baker Ana Pascal knows that blossoming flowers are nothing compared to baking flours. The 2006 movie was well ahead of its time, exhaling the virtues of diverse flour and food before words like locavore or farm-to-table had even entered our vocabulary. And the southwestern Ontario county of Chatham-Kent has its very own Harold Crick.
CK-Table likes to describe themselves as the "to" in the farm-to-table movement in southwestern Ontario. They advocate for sustainable, secure food and work tirelessly to promote local farmers and debunk myths about local food. And for Paul Spence, flour is at the heart of this equation.
Paul is just as interested in lost plant varieties as he is in lost farm tools. Paul and his neighbour, Mark Bos of Bos Homestead, are currently coddling a small patch of White Sonora and Turkey Red wheat, determined to discover which heirloom grain will thrive best in Chatham-Kent's mild micro-climate and prized, rich farming soil. Mark and Paul's best asset in this venture might just be their sense of humor as they battle weeds and the disbelief of others in a region where cash crop farming is the raison d'etre.
I witnessed this first hand myself, when eating breakfast at a popular restaurant which didn't have a single local food on the menu - and during the height of berry season at that. Fortunately Chef Joel at the Chilled Cork restaurant was willing to work with C-K Table to create a custom, one-night-only menu based on the ingredients produced by C-K Table farmers.
Next up was an heirloom tomato salad in a stone ground flour tart (you know how much I adore heirloom tomatoes!) followed by a stone ground flour biscuit with sausage gravy.
Ravialo is like a kind of giant ravioli which contains an egg yolk n the center. When the Ravialo cooks, the egg yolk gently poaches inside the pasta. When you cut into the cooked product, the yummy, runny, golden yolk oozes out in a gloriously messy and decadent display. The pasta dough for the Ravialo was also made with the local flour. This was by far my favourite use of the flour and I had no idea a stone ground flour could be so delicate and delicious.
My main hope now is that the local residents of Chatham-Kent have the opportunity to experience their local food the way I did. I would love to see more restaurants celebrating local produce and more farms embracing heirloom products. I hope C-K Table succeeds in their mission to put local food on every table and every menu and that local food evolves from being a trend to what it was always intended to be - part of a secure, sustainable, environmentally sound, and absolutely delicious component of community development.
Readers, I'd love to hear from you! What culinary trends do you think are here to stay?
If you enjoyed this article, you'll also like:
What I Learned About Eating Local in West Lorne
How London Goes Local at the Covent Garden Market
The Sexiest Slow Food in Prince Edward County
My visit to Chatham-Kent was facilitated by C-K Table. All research, writing, and opinions remain my own.