Last evening Sherry, Andrew, and I partook of a foodie special event put on by the KW Chamber of Commerce — the 100-Mile Feast hosted by chef Michael Stadtländer. (Thank goodness for free tickets, which Sherry won from work.)

Stadtländer has been doing the fresh/natural/local thing for decades, well before it became the latest trend, and Eigensinn Farm, the working farm, restaurant, and cooking school he runs with his wife, Nobuyo, has been a world-class example of this for 16 years. (Apparently it’s been awarded 9th best restaurant in the world, and people make reservations a year in advance.)

The Stadtländers will shortly be opening a new restaurant — Heisei — in the village of Singhampton, for which they are building pretty much everything (tables, chairs, decor). It will seat about 30, I believe, and will replace their entertaining at the Farm, which will remain largely a school. (At any given time several apprentices live on site.)

He talked a bit before dinner, and between courses, about his various projects and passions, and the food somewhat, of course (though I gather he was more inspiration and brand name for the dinner, as opposed to having done the heavy lifting).

He’s got a number of interesting plans that will combine tourism, food, and culture in the area, from a pumpkin regatta this fall, to dinners with tables hosted by luminaries in art, music, science, etc., the idea being roundtable discussions while folks eat. Apparently they’ll also have dim sum. 🙂

Anyway, the menu (this is a basic overview, since I don’t remember the exact details of every course):

  • Amuse bouche of rabbit with apple butter, paired with ice wine.
  • Sunchoke bisque.
  • Pickerel on beetroot risotto with a smoked fish skin crisp, paired with Riesling.
  • Palate cleanser of frozen minced cucumber, carrot, and cabernet sauvignon (layered).
  • Pork belly, short ribs, and beef tenderloin with wild leek, golden beetroot, and fiddlehead, paired with Meritage.
  • Salad with field greens, flaxseed cracker thingy, prosciutto, and Niagara Gold cheese.
  • Honey cheesecake (made with chevre or some other fairly strong soft cheese) with honey, jam, and caramelized apple chips (with maple syrup), paired with another ice wine.

To try and remain faithful to the 100-mile idea, coffee wasn’t “served”, per se, but you could go out to the foyer and get it yourself and bring it back in to your table. A bit silly, but there you go.

The food was delicious, and I didn’t dislike anything we were served, though the cheesecake was not traditional in flavour, and I noticed that about half of the people didn’t eat it, or ate only part of it. However, they were more focused on getting the food out in a timely manner, so the wines, except for the first one, which was on the table when we got there, were always late. Like, “I’m already done eating” late. So either you ate without the pairing, or you sat and waited for it to arrive while your food cooled.

The other thing that pissed me off was the attendees. Stadtländer spoke between courses about the food and some of his projects, etc., and people talked through it. Like, loud enough at times that it was hard to hear him — and he was holding a microphone and only two tables away from us. Unbelievably rude, especially given that everyone was ostensibly there because of him. And even worse when the noise level actually went down after he finished speaking. A lot of those people may have been KW “society”, but they have a lot to learn about manners. Asshats.

All in all, a lovely evening, and now I am left terribly curious about the farm, the new restaurant, and some of the events being planned. Might have to go for a short road trip east next time I’m up at Mom and Dad’s and check out the groovy metropolis of Singhampton. 🙂

2 Comments on 100-Mile Feast

  1. It sounds like it was an interesting evening. I have been thinking about local eating for a while, because of its increasing popularity and also because I was raised on market-bought foods mostly and continue to bias towards them in my adulthood.

    Your description triggered an idle thought: I wonder how effective this tactic of playing to the elite is. To me convincing the elite to eat locally is almost trivial. Local eating often means small farms with high-quality food which tends towards the expensive (though certainly not always) and of course manual preparation which both are things that the middle class tends not to do.

    The elite do it because they have the luxury of being able to pay extra for the quality, and the poor tend to eat locally because they don't have the luxury of paying for premade foods and imported foods, but the largest swath of food eaters (I think, and I am being completely speculative) don't bother with it. Finding the time and energy to take the 2.5 kids to the market on Saturday after working a full week and dealing with the crowds and irritation isn't for everyone (and probably isn't for most!) and unlike my situation many people can't buzz off and hit the market on one of the weekday days if they so choose, or muster up the cash to pay up-front for a CSA share.

  2. It sounds like it was an interesting evening. I have been thinking about local eating for a while, because of its increasing popularity and also because I was raised on market-bought foods mostly and continue to bias towards them in my adulthood.

    Your description triggered an idle thought: I wonder how effective this tactic of playing to the elite is. To me convincing the elite to eat locally is almost trivial. Local eating often means small farms with high-quality food which tends towards the expensive (though certainly not always) and of course manual preparation which both are things that the middle class tends not to do.

    The elite do it because they have the luxury of being able to pay extra for the quality, and the poor tend to eat locally because they don't have the luxury of paying for premade foods and imported foods, but the largest swath of food eaters (I think, and I am being completely speculative) don't bother with it. Finding the time and energy to take the 2.5 kids to the market on Saturday after working a full week and dealing with the crowds and irritation isn't for everyone (and probably isn't for most!) and unlike my situation many people can't buzz off and hit the market on one of the weekday days if they so choose, or muster up the cash to pay up-front for a CSA share.

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