Pumpkinpalooza in Barrie

Chappell Farms on Penetanguishene Road, Barrie was the inspired site for this fall family festival. We often think of pumpkins as mere jack-o-lanterns, or perhaps for the adventuresome, those brave and patient souls, willing to untangle the mass of seeds from the inner guts of this rotund gourd for roasting, but with inspired talent, the chefs at Pumpkinpalooza were able to tantalize our taste buds with offerings inspired from this humble veggie. The Pumpkin Bistro was the place to be to try the aforementioned Pumpkin soup, a substantial Vegetarian pumpkin curry, Pumpkin Beef Chili, and perogies, along with more traditional fall fair menu items such as hot dogs and sausages. Presenting the sweet with the savoury, they included shortbreads, cupcakes, and apple cider too.

I found the pumpkin soup delicately seasoned, whereas the pumpkin curry awakened my taste buds with a hefty bite of spice, both were most enjoyable. I nibbled on some buttery rich shortbread cookies, forgoing the “eyeball cupcakes”, and my sweet tooth was satiated.

As I wandered across the site, making my way to the small yellow barn to admire the pumpkin carving contest submissions, I was delighted to overhear a saxophone serenade to pumpkins, competently played by Georgian College culinary student Erica Bos.

Prizes were to be awarded to professional carvers and youngsters.

Pumpkinpalooza was a joint project of members of CCFCC, (Canadian Culinary Federation), with chefs from CCFCC branches in Toronto, Muskoka, Hamilton and North Bay taking part, as members of WACS (World Association of Chefs Societies), a global network of chefs associations, first founded in October 1928, at the Sorbonne in Paris. WACS is a non-political professional organization, dedicated to maintaining and improving the culinary standards of global cuisines.

Concurrent events were occurring October 20 across Canada, and throughout the world. This humanitarian partnership was designed to bring focus on the 2012 theme chosen by WACS of
“How to feed the planet in the future”, to give exposure to the Chef’s trade, and to benefit the community and various charities.

Funds from this event will support; WACS World Chefs without Borders Program, (International Humanitarian Aid), The Leprosy Mission of Canada (providing treatment to impoverished peoples), and the Muskoka and District Junior Chefs Association (supporting culinary educational opportunities for the next generation of local chefs).

If a group of geese is a gaggle and a flock describes a bunch of flying birds, what does one call a gathering of Chefs? Chefs David Jones and Daniel Clements suggested a “brigade” would be apt terminology.

Whatever we may choose to call these professionals in chefs’ whites, I felt they displayed altruism and immense culinary talent at Pumpkinpalooza, creating tasty food and raising funds for
worthy causes. That to me makes a great event!

Mark October 20th on your calendar for next year and make Pumpkinpalooza a tradition for your family.

-Written by: Penelope Morrow

Penelope Morrow is a writer, editor and food aficionado from Barrie; follow her tweets at @penelopejmorrow

Pizzeria Italia in downtown Barrie

The food here is amazing quality, always served at the perfect temperature and fresh from the kitchen. The servers are friendly and make sure you have what exactly what you need. Fresh bread is also served with every entrée so you have something to munch on while you’re waiting, or something to dip into their delicious homemade tomato sauce if you order one of their pastas. For years, one of my favourite items on the menu has been the manicotti, which I would argue is the best in town. Spinach and cheese is rolled into pasta, covered in a rich tomato sauce and plenty of mozzarella cheese with a Parmesan drizzle on top. There’s also cannelloni for meat lovers, which is the same thing just with meat filling.

Pizzeria Italia is evidently known for its delicious, homemade-style pizza. They serve the best Mediterranean pizza I’ve ever had; it’s a great vegetarian option. The sundried tomatoes and chunks of feta cheese are to die for. They also have amazing Caesar salad, which is a great way to start off your meal. Their creamy Caesar dressing isn’t as heavy as some at other restaurants, and the croutons are delicious. I usually avoid them at any other restaurants, but these ones are irresistible. You also have to try Brio to drink; it tastes like Coke and root beer mixed together. It’s always my drink of choice, and this is one of the few restaurants that offers it on the menu.

One of the things that makes this restaurant unique is its long-standing reputation for excellence. The difference is that this business has been passed down through the same family for generations. In a society of fast-food chains, Pizzeria Italia offers something different in both its atmosphere and food quality. The restaurant seats about fifty people, but larger tables are available for parties, business lunches, or large families.

Parking is available along Mulcaster and Dunlop St.

Pizzeria Italia
18 Mulcaster St, Barrie, ON

-Written by: Hannah Guirguis

Hannah Guirguis is a freelance writer from Barrie, Ontario.

Local Foods Mart in Barrie

Chan Ju Park and Julian Daniel, foodies to the core, were tired of driving far afield to purchase the culinary items they ate in their own home, so they decided to open this amazing little market.

With a lifestyle approach to eating and cooking, they have stocked the shelves with their favourites of locally sourced, fresh produce, and products, grown and prepared for the most part, in Simcoe County.

Most items are labelled with their place of origin and how far they have travelled to arrive in Barrie. With exposed brick wall, tin ceiling and wicker baskets for use while you shop, the Local Foods Mart captures the essence of the local corner store of years gone by, only better.

The basics are here; milk, eggs, (including duck and quail), and cheese, but you also will find artisan breads from three local bakeries, organic greens, fresh veggies, Montreal Bagels, Korean Sushi, ice cream, soups, sauces, meat, sweets, coffee and fresh frozen prepared meals from some of the best local chefs; including Marco Ormonde from The North Restaurant, Vince Galati from Gio’s, Chef Patrick Bourachot from Café Chartreuse, Angelo Pidutti from Cravings…and the list goes on.

This is a perfect gem of a grocery store; catering to foodies and downtown residents alike, with wheelchair access, a takeout counter and knowledgeable helpful service.

Gluten free, no problem, I can personally recommend Micah’s brownies.

While perusing the shelves, salivating mightily, I asked Julian to suggest a few items for me to try; Meredith’s Ginger Elixir is heaven in a glass jar, organic ginger, local honey, fresh squeezed lemon or lime is now a fav in my fridge, it comes with recipes attached, and I made the most amazing

Another item Julian insisted I try was Belly Ice-cream, all natural, and “no funky stuff”, made in small batches, so tucked into the funky cloth shopping bag with my purchases was a tub of Buttered Scotch Whisky with Salted Caramel and Smoked almonds, absolutely divine!

Sheldon Creek Dairy Whole milk went home with me too, a memory in a glass bottle of days long past, where the cream surfaces to the top and can be shaken in or scooped off to enjoy separately.
Words alone can not do justice to Local Foods Mart, I think it best for you and your taste buds to go and explore.

Chan Ju and Julian hope to inspire us to buy local fresh foods, to support our farmers, our dairy’s, our grain producers, as shopping local enriches our bodies and our community.

This is real food folks.

Local Foods Mart 123 Dunlop Street East, Barrie www.localfoodsmart.ca 705-812-2469

-Written by: Penelope Morrow

Penelope Morrow is a writer, editor and food aficionado from Barrie; follow her tweets at @penelopejmorrow