Community Food local products

Local Food, Local Stories

This year marks the third annual #LoveLocalMB tasting event. The event came about when Peter Fehr of Gourmet Inspirations was looking for a way to promote local food producers. Originally it was going to be a wine and cheese type evening. Then Peter connected with Bessie Hatzitrifanos of Bessie’s Best Food, and shortly thereafter the idea for the #LoveLocalMB sampling event was born.

Local food favourite, Perfect Perogies
Chili Pepper gives these perogies a bit of bite.

Each year the event has grown. It’s moved around over the first three years. This year the event is being held at the CanadInns at Polo Park. The hope is that the event has found itself a permanent home. Tickets for the dinner are still available. Not only that, but at $15.00 for advance purchase, they are a steal. Finally, part of the proceeds go to Food Matters Manitoba

Local Food Preview

I can confidently say that they are steal, because this morning I got a sneak peak at just a few of the local participants. Along with Gourmet Inspirations and Bessie’s Bests, there were representatives from Perfect Pierogies, Rigby Orchards, and Canadian Birch. I’m going to concentrate on the last three in this post. The whole list is here. I’m also going to follow up with a post on specific products later.

Local foods Rigby Orchards
Local foods go well when paired with local wines such as these wines from Rigby Orchards.

Perfect Pierogies started out in Garson Manitoba. There are four owners including Lawrence Porhownik who represented them this morning. Like many local businesses Perfect Pierogies focuses on using local ingredients as much as possible. In addition to your traditional pierogies, Perfect Pierogies has expanded into flavours such as Spinach and Feta, and Chili Pepper.
One more thing that makes Perfect Pierogies story interesting is that in addition to using local ingredients, they also repurposed space in a local building for their operations. Perfect Pierogies currently runs out of the basement of Garson Elementary. It’s always good when buildings can find ways to more fully use their space.
Grant Rigby of Rigby Orchards has been a farmer all of his life. Yet his has been an interesting journey. He has farmed livestock on small and large scale. He has experimented with a variety of grains. He has studied agriculture in pursuit of graduate education and degree,(you can check out some of his work here), and has now moved into organic farming and the production of various wines.
Many of the wines Rigby produces are non-grape based, but he also produces a very nice dry Rosé. He also produces his own Mead. Rigby wines are carried at Manitoba Liquour Marts. However, because they are not all grape based, they don’t always get stocked with the rest of the wine. Make sure to ask if you don’t see them in the Wine section.

Local foods birch syrup
Local birch syrup makes a great topping for many local foods.

Canadian Birch produces a variety of products based around birch syrup. Birch syrup is very interesting on it’s own. It has a much stronger flavour and sweetness than Maple syrup does. This makes it very adaptable. For example, the Canadian Birch BBQ sauce is not overly thick. Yet, it is packed with flavour. Also, the syrup is much better able to infuse the meat.
Producing this syrup is a real labour of love. One reason being is that it takes much more work to tap birch trees as opposed to maple. For every litre of Maple sap, you’ll likely only get 1/3 of a litre of Birch sap. Rory and Glenda Hart are the owners of Canadian Birch. Rory spends most of his time out in the bush with the trees. They currently have 1,250-1,300 trees. They hope to grow to 2,000. Glenda’s main role is taking the sap and turning it into the variety of Birch products they produce. Each product is versatile in it’s own way.
As I said at the top, this was just a hint of the products available for sampling and purchase at #LoveLocalMB. It’s also just a hint of the stories. If you come out Saturday you’ll taste much more local food,  and hear many more stories. You’ll also have a chance to connect with others in the local food world. You may even get a chance to talk to me(really, I’m enthralling).

By Donald McKenzie

Anglican priest, and food blogger. This blog is focused on Food. It will feature reviews of places to eat books, and the odd recipe. I also write about what it means to gather together around food.