Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Metro Seasonal Lunch: Discussing Local Purchasing Initiatives with Foodland Ontario

Photo by Jeffrey Wright
Welcome back summer! As much as I love to rejoice as soon as the summer solstice hits, I have to admit that being a pale ginger kid, I actually prefer the weather in the spring and fall, as opposed to the scorching and humid temperatures that we can expect in the summer in Toronto. Though, yes, I do prefer spring and fall, my absolute favourite thing about summer in Toronto is being able to enjoy all of the incredible local produce that we are so lucky to grow here in Ontario. 
"Locally grown produce allows consumers to put a face to their food, granting them the opportunity to find that personal connection with each meal." 
There's no doubt about it, Torontonians are caring more and more about the food they're feeding their families. People want to know where the food is coming from, how it was grown, and who grew it. For most Canadians food is more than just sustenance, it's a way of showing love, giving to others, and telling a story. It's no coincidence that there are three meals in a day, beginning, middle, and end, just like a story. In order to build on the story of each meal, consumers want to be able to make a connection with the food that they're eating. Locally grown produce allows consumers to put a face to their food, granting them the opportunity to find that personal connection with each meal. 
Photo by Daniel St. Germaine
After waiting so many months for our rainbow of Ontario fruits and vegetables to come back into season, it's understandable to want to have a fridge and counter full of locally-grown goodies at all times. Though farmer's markets are definitely "on-trend" right now and seem to be popping up all over the city, it's not always easy to find access to locally grown goods every day for each meal. Yes, most of us have a local market that's easy for us to get to, but most of those farmer's markets only run once a week, which means looking elsewhere for Ontario-grown foods. 
With so many Torontonians demanding access to locally grown foods, grocery stores are beginning to take note. I recently had the opportunity to attend a seasonally-focused lunch hosted by Metro Ontario, celebrating their new local sourcing initiatives in partnership with Foodland Ontario. The event, which was held in the beautiful exposed-brick Burroughs Building, invited attendees to enjoy a three-course seasonally-inspired meal, and learn about the innovative shopping experience that Metro is beginning to create for their consumers. 

Understanding the importance of having that personal connection with the food their customers are purchasing, Metro has taken it upon themselves to improve the shopping experience. By sourcing more of their fresh foods locally, as well as providing visual aids both in store and in their weekly flyer, Metro has made it so simple for customers to not only easily access Ontario-grown foods, but also effortlessly find those local foods with ease in the midst of their busy schedules.
The Meal
The event was a stunning reflection of Metro's new initiative, celebrating the beauty of our bounty here in Ontario. The three-course meal showcased the big bold flavours of Ontario by focusing on simplicity. The lunch began with a Field of Greens Salad, speckled with Ontario sprouted beans (which also reflects this years International Year of Pulses), red beets, pumpkin seeds, and parmesan cheese, tossed in a maple walnut vinaigrette. Though the Ontario Beer-Brined Chicken and Ontario Rainbow Trout looked exquisite, I had selected the Egg Yolk Ravioli for my second course, having always been intrigued by the surprising dish. The extra-large raviolis were lightly tossed in browned butter and pecorino, and topped with pea shoots to allow the subtle flavour of the ricotta and Ontario green pea filling to shine. The rich and creamy texture and flavour of the egg yolk, kept intact inside each ravioli, tied the whole dish together, and added a welcome surprise as the ravioli was cut open and the yolk oozed out. To end the meal, we were presented with a dazzling finale of Goat's Milk Panna Cotta with vibrant strawberry and rhubarb, dehydrated pink peppercorn meringue, and mint.  
More than just a fantastic meal, I was so taken by the gorgeous tablescape that was created exclusively for the event. The large, glass-topped table had individual panels all along its length, which were each filled with a different Ontario vegetable, creating a rainbow of Ontario produce beneath each table setting. The attention to detail in the execution of the decor was truly spectacular and left me feeling inspired!
Being a huge supporter of the impressive wealth of flavour we are so lucky to enjoy in Ontario, this was such an enjoyable event for me to attend. I had so much fun getting to talk to the engaging Metro and Foodland Ontario representatives about the exciting work that they're doing, and revelling in the uniqueness and quality of Ontario cuisine. I'm looking forward to this coming Saturday, where I will be joining the Metro Ontario team once again to watch chef Anthony Rose create a mouth-watering dish, utilizing Ontario produce, on the Metro Master Class stage at Taste Of Toronto! Who else is going to be there? Tweet me: @thisgingerrose so we can connect! 

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Listening To:
Drake - Controlla 

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