The Canadian Artisan Tasting Fair 2013

The inaugural Canadian Artisan Tasting Fair took place at Wychwood Barns on Sunday, December 1st featuring an abundance of local vendors pedaling everything from cheese to cutting boards.  It was no surprise that 80% of the show was cheese focused since the founder is none other than Leslieville Cheese Market’s Michael Simpson.  If you haven’t tried their grilled cheese sandwiches – you ought to!

It was a manageable show in terms of size and crowd and as with any food/drink related show I discovered a few new favorites.

Nickel Brook Brewery’s Old Kentucky Bastard

kentucky bastardOne of my go-to summer beers is Nickel Brook’s Green Apple Pilsner and I think I’ve now found my go-to winter beer.  The Old Kentucky Bastard is an imperial stout aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels.  The beer is a variation of the brewery’s Bolshevik Bastard Imperial Stout and will be hitting LCBO shelves this month at $11.95 in the 750mL format.  Chocolate and coffee lovers will fall in love with this beer.  It is described as follows:

The rich chocolate, coffee and dark fruit flavours from our Imperial Stout are married together with the vanilla, oak and warming alcohol from bourbon barrels.  Together as one,the result is an incredible blend of aroma and taste.

EPI Breads

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This Davisville bakery is dedicated to baking all-natural products.  As stated on their Facebook page:

Using quality ingredients and natural starters, we leaven, shape and bake our breads in a slow artisan process. We add no shortening, eggs or dairy products, and no fats or oils, except as naturally occur in the olive oil, cheese and nuts.

Whatever it is that these ladies put in their breads/pastries – they are delicious.  I have become addicted to their buttery croissants and their multigrain loaf which makes for a filling French toast at brunch.  And if my love of carbs doesn’t convince you how good their product is, David Lee uses their buns for his Nota Bene burger.  I like the fact that I can find miche here as you don’t see a lot of bakeries making this ancient style of bread.

Sanagan’s Meat Locker

IMG_1463 (480x640)I don’t think I’ve had anything from Sanagan’s that I don’t like but the chicken liver mousse blew my socks off!  They served it topped with an ice wine jelly and I think this will be a staple at my next dinner party!  You can get it at their Kensington Market retail location; it comes in terrine format but you won’t have any problems slathering it over freshly toasted baguette.   Just make sure you buy enough!

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Honorable mentions go out to my all-time go-to drug chocolate dealer Laura Slack Chocolates.  If you want quality chocolates you need look no further.  The Pumpkin Chai truffles are irresistible.  You can find her chocolates at McEwan’s.

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I was definitely all cheesed-out by the time I went home as the Leslieville Cheese Market had a huge “cheese buffet” there.  I snapped a lot of photos of new cheeses but nothing tops my tried-and-true favorite – the Toscano from Monforte Dairy.   If you haven’t tried it before, pair it with fresh figs, prosciutto and some Ontario black walnuts in honey from Stassis Preserves – I guarantee dinner guests will be talking about it all night long!

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I can’t wait until next year!  Follow @tastingfair on Twitter to keep up-to-date – I wouldn’t want to miss the announcement of their 2014 dates!

*UPDATE 13/OCT/2014 – The Canadian Artisan Tasting Fair returns November 30, 2014 at Wychwood Barns.  Click here to buy your tickets*
*Thanks to the Canadian Artisan Tasting Fair for having me as their media guest.  Admission only to the show was complimentary.  Opinions are my own*