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Living the 100-mile diet… At least for one meal

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The “One Book, One Community” choice for Waterloo region this year is “The 100-Mile Diet”, an account of a BC couple’s attempt to restrict their diet only to food produced with 100 miles of their home, for one year. In that spirit was the Region of Waterloo Chef Association President’s Dinner, in celebration of Earth Day. By combining with Foodlink Waterloo Region, they wanted to show that even in April, when local produce options are limited at best, a fine meal was possible.

The evening began with a “Champagne reception”, featuring a nice, Inniskillin sparkling wine. Jean and I debated how “environmental” our presence at this event was — certainly it supported the producers and the idea; on the other hand, we did drive there.

Issue unresolved, we found that seating was in tables at eight, so we randomly selected one that had two spots available. While at first it looked like everyone was only going to talk to those they already, a gentleman from Wellesley suggested we all introduce each other, and things got rolling.

It was an interesting group. One couple owned Lyndon Fish Hatcheries — and also happened to have 10 children. The main focus of their business is growing fish to feed other fish hatcheries, but they do a small sideline in smoked arctic char. More on that later. They were there with another couple. He worked for Laidlaw and was frequently consulting his Blackberry; apparently he frequently had to fly out to various offices on short notice. But he wasn’t the type you’re probably picture now from that description — much more down to earth.

The Wellesley couple owned a small food shop there. She was noticeably younger than him, with a thick Ukranian accent, but they’d actually met in New York City. Apparently he decided on the first day that they’d end up married, and proceeded to woo. She expressed perfect satisfaction with life in Wellesley, despite spending her teenage years in Manhattan.

So amid the lively conversation, we got some pretty nice food. First course (earth) was a nice celeriac and potato soup. Second course (water) proved the highlight — the smoked char on greens and tomatoes (greenhouse, if you’re wondering about that one), with a side of brie. Great fish! And we had it first hand that it had all been smoked the night before. Third course (air) featured pheasant and chicken, then there was a lovely sorbet of apple and chardonnay from the Breadalbane Inn (which I think we need to try). Fourth course (land) was black angus filet mignon, potatoes, and green beans (definitely a surprise this time of year). Dessert was a nice trio of tiny crepes with apple butter, delicious double brie ice cream, and equally delicious maple syrup tart.

Despite a few moans and groans, everyone at the table seemed to manage to eat everything. Oh, and there were also wine pairings: a nice white meritage from Jackson-Triggs, a good pinot from Inniskillin, and a bigger red — Cabernet? — to go with the beef.

The evening ended with an auction for a personal chef’s dinner (we dropped out after the first price point) and some door prizes, one of which we won! Dinner for four at Conestega College. All in all a good evening out, whether or not the earth thanks us for it.

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