Thursday, August 29, 2013

#FoodPornFriday - Shepherds Pie, Burger and Shake at Route 42

This weeks #FoodPornFriday post comes early as it's a long weekend for me. It's my Friday today. This shot was taken at Route 42 Diner. Here you see my Shepherds Pie and Chocolate Shake with my wife's Yellow Burger in the background. You can also see their love of putting potato chip crumbs on everything. Check out my full review.

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Sunday, August 25, 2013

We spent the day at Art By The River

There are a lot of cool events that go down every year in Essex County. Things like Art in the Park, Eat Your City restaurant week and the Tecumseh Corn Fest. There are so many of these events every summer that I never manage to make it out to all of them. Heck I don't even make it to half of them. Art by the River is one that I do try to attend every year and one that I just got back from.

Art by the River is held each year in the town of Amherstburg Ontario. Amherstburg is a historical town that's living up the heritage thing while still trying to be modern and relevant. It's a War of 1812 heritage community and the site of Fort Malden is the location for Art by the River as well as a slew of other annual festivities. This art and craft show is very similar to the big Art in the Park festival held in Windsor, but slightly smaller. Due to this smaller size I've always found it to be more personal, plus the prices seem to be more reasonable.

We got up early this morning and packed up the kids and headed out to Romas Pizza for breakfast. Romas is in the town of LaSalle and it's about half way to Amherstburg. Not only was it directly along our route, they also serve a great breakfast but on weekends only. I'm a big fan of their meat-lovers omelet.  They also have an awesome Gyro Pizza I recommend anyone in the area to try at least once, though not for breakfast (they don't start serving Pizza until lunch).

After breakfast we finished the rest of the trip and spent some time driving around the small town of Amherstburg looking for a CIBC bank so we could get some cash. This ended up being fortuitous since the ATM at Art by the River was down when we got there. We drove around for quite a bit and were really surprised by the changes in the town. The old Sherwood mall was completely gone replaced by the typical Canadian big box lot. There was a Walmart, Sobey's, Mark's Work Warehouse and more. This is all stuff that is new to the area. Stuff that previously people would have to drive to LaSalle, Essex or Windsor to get. It seemed odd to me as up until just recently Amherstburg really hasn't changed much at all.

After our quick driving tour (there's only one CIBC in the entire town, it's in the old downtown, the last place we checked, of course) we spent a good 10 minute sharking for a parking spot. That's the one thing about all of these local events, there's never enough parking. We eventually found a good spot, headed in and paid our $10 at the door. It's $5 each for the adults and free for kids under 12.

I was really impressed with the show this year. It seemed like they added a few more booths than last year without making the place seem crowded. There was the usual mix of crafty stuff like painted ceramics, fine art, paintings, photography and everything in between. For some reason glasswork seemed very popular this year, with lots of beads and some really awesome glass creations. I really wanted to buy a particular glass snail for my girls but I know it probably wouldn't have lasted 5 minutes in their hands. I was also very tempted by a wooden dragon puzzle. My wife lusted after some sun hats and ended up picking up a nice one for my oldest daughter. In the end we did end up buying some of the glasswork but only a small, much less breakable acorn.

Along with lots of cool and impressive arts and crafts there were also a wide variety of live shows. There were no less than four performance areas at which there was always at least a musician playing. One larger stage hosted more in depth shows including some historical reenactment by the Essex County Historical Society I think I heard the cannons go off twice in the four or so hours we were at the event. Actually you could find reinactors walking around throughout the show looking far too hot in the 1800s garb. My kids especially love to sit and listen to the live music, which I was  thankful for as it gave a nice break from the crowds and the heat.

Art by the River also has a small kids section. There you have face painting, a clown on duty and a painting area where kids get to paint at an easel and take home their art. I swear I remember there being a lot more for kids to do last year including a local dance company giving free lessons and trying to sell parents on sending their kids to the school. I'm not sure why they weren't here this year. My kids were happy enough just to get to paint and didn't seem to miss anything from previous years though.

The other thing you can find at shows like this is food. Now these events always have a food tent where you can get stuff to eat. This particular one had the typical hot dogs and burgers and overpriced pop and water. That's not really what I'm talking about here. What I'm talking about are the booths that are selling cool food products. We picked up a liter of pure Canadian Maple Syrup from Uncle Richard's Maple, some gourmet nuts from C'est Bon and the best Kettle Corn I've ever had from Poppers in Harrow (I would link to their website but it seems to be broken and just plays a rather funky Popcorn song but nothing else). I don't think my kids would let me leave any of these local events without buying at least one large bag of Kettle Corn.

In addition to stuff I bought there were also booths selling a variety of dips and sauces. The Wicked Gourmet was there this year selling their great products (most of these are now available at Remark Farms so I usually don't buy from them at festivals). There was a guy that was very excitedly trying to get people to try his hummus and at least two booths selling spices. I was surprised we didn't see The Bean Ladies this year, they were always regulars at this event and Art by the Park. Most of the booths with food items also offered samples which had my kids yanking us this way and that so they could try everything.

On the trip home we stopped at a couple of the fruit and vegetable stands along the highway. All through Essex county you can find these along any of the major county roads, each of them selling a selection of local produce and often some home made crafts or sweets. My wife grabbed some local onion and peppers as well as some fresh picked strawberries. Pretty much any trip we take out in the County includes a stop like this on the way home.

A good meal, a nice drive down by the lake, a tour of a historic town, great art, great performances and some great food. I can't ask for much more on a warm Summer Sunday.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

#FoodPornFriday Flautas from El Patron

This week I've got another appetizer from El Patron. This time it's their Flautas. I fell in love with Flautas at a local place called El Dorado that is sadly now closed. These are the best Flautas I've had since then.

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Thursday, August 15, 2013

#FoodPornFriday Chorizo and Queso from El Patron for Eat Your City

This week is Eat Your City here in Windsor. This is a week long culinary event celebrating local restaurants that is put on by Windsor Eats. Twenty Seven local restaurants are participating this summer. Unfortunately there's lots going on this week and tonight was the only night my wife and I were able to make it out. After dropping off the games for The Great Canadian Board Game Blitz at the Green Bean Cafe, we headed over to El Patron for some Mexican. Today's #FoodPornFriday picture is their amazing Chorizo and Queso appetizer.

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My daughter has good taste in cheese

At Remark Farms, a locally owned grocer, they have a huge cheese section (and an amazing deli). As part of these cheese section they always have samples.

My kids of course love this. Not our last trip but the trip before, my oldest was with me and we tried some Muenster cheese as a sample. It was rather good so I bought a small brick. What I didn't know is that when we got home my daughter went on and on to Mom about how her and Dad picked out special cheese for us to share. Okay that wasn't the initial plan, but I'm cool with this. I love the fact she's willing to try new things. So we shared the cheese.

This week she asked if we could try the samples again. I had a feeling I knew what was coming. We tried a bunch of different cheeses and she really took a liking to Kerrygold Dubliner. So I checked with the master of the money and she okay'd a purchase of a small brick. I also got a pack of sliced Muenster to put on sandwiches for lunch this week.

Right now my daughter and I are sharing this as a small snack before I get neck deep in board game packing for The Great Canadian Board Game Blitz. Man this is a great cheese. It's very hard, almost like Parmesan but with a taste more like old cheddar. My daughter has good taste in cheese.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Took a break this morning and hit the Downtown Windsor Farmers' Market

Lately I've been really busy preparing for The Great Canadian Board Game Blitz which I'm hosting next weekend on the 17th. That would be why you haven't been seeing the usual weekly updates and #FoodPorn Friday posts. I took a break from prep work this morning to take the family down to the Downtown Windsor Farmers' Market.

This open air market is put on by the Windsor Downtown Residents Association. The market opens every year on June 1 and runs every Saturday from 9am until 1pm, until Thanksgiving weekend in October.

This year the market moved from it's location at the old Greyhound Bus terminal, to Charles Clark Square. Most locals know the Square as a great place to ice skate during the winter. The new venue is about three times as large, has more access to power and is in a more scenic part of town.

There's a  huge variety of vendors at the market each week. Interestingly it's not always the same people either. There are a few staples but other booths change week to week.

There's plenty of fresh grown local produce, as expected. Grown Right Here is a big sponsor for these weekly events. Today saw lots and lots of different types of tomatoes and peppers. We were hoping zucchini was ready but it seem that will be next week or the week after.

Besides everything being farm fresh most of the prices are better than what you see at the local super market. Along with the produce there are usually a couple vendors there selling fresh fish and meats. This week there was a vendor selling some amazing sausage, Robbie's Gourmet Sausage Company, they handed out a couple samples that has us buying some of their Canadian breakfast sausage and Chorizo to bring home.

In addition to a variety of meats and produce you will find a variety of vendors selling various treats. There's candied nuts, pies, fresh bread and fruit loaves, smoothies, cookies and more. What's cool to see is the number of gluten free and diabetic safe options.

For people buying these treats there's a few different seating areas set up around the square so you can enjoy the food you bought or just take a load off for a bit.

There's also a wide variety of non-food items for sale. Local artists are always there showing off their wares. This week I saw soaps, henna tattoos, earrings, a couple different painters and even one person doing geeky and sporty stained glass. A small stage area is also set up and musical guests provide entertainment throughout the day.

In typical Windsor fashion everyone is extremely friendly and more than willing to chat. All of the vendors love talking about their products and it's always great to get cooking tips right from the source.

If you are ever looking for something to do on a Saturday morning this summer or early fall, I do suggest you check out the Downtown Windsor Farmers' market. You never know exactly what you will find but I can pretty much guarantee you will find something you will like.