Sunday, October 2, 2011

It's October

The first weekend of October is nearly finished.  For us this weekend always means harvest festivals and a local food fest.  The weather has been cold, rainy, damp, wet, cold, cloudy, cold...  But we ventured out with the kids anyway, hitting up a favourite harvest fest for some games, prizes, cider and beeswax candles.  It was a hurried affair, as little fingers numbed in the cold and little noses turned bright red.  But asking them, the Littles say that they had a good time anyway.

After they tucked in to a welcome supper of veggie chili from the new crock pot, they got to hang out with my middle sister (and the aunt who delivered Little Miss) while hubby and I hit the local food festival.  It's a grand affair, made all the better this year by a return to the wide open space it occupied a couple of years ago (last year it was moved to some local streets, which resulted in a crowded mess of people, with lines from one vendor melding into lines for others, close calls with cigarettes, and a generally unpleasant experience all around).  The space allows for lines to come out from each vendor with no overlap, and provides a large area for picnic tables.  There is a lower level for the beer tent, stage and more seating.  It's really great.  There is also a market area that's supposed to showcase local growers, but honestly it was a disappointment.  There were scant few vendors, and among them was a corporate trailer handing out "natural" deli meat.  It's sad, because a few years ago there were so many vendors, selling produce, cheese, locally made condiments and sauces and so forth...

Given the very cool temps, I was looking forward to trying some soups.  But first, we stopped for an ear each of fire roasted corn, dipped in a crock pot of melted butter, and sprinkled with whatever seasoning one desires. I'm a bit of a purist and prefer salt, but I did try a little garlic powder. Meh.  I like my salt and butter combo best.

Then we split up to get some soup.  Hubby went for our yearly favourite - loaded baked potato soup.  I opted for some wonderful sounding cheddar beer soup, made by a local pub.  I know it was a long, cold day for everyone working there, but when the woman taking the orders went from cheerfully conversing with a friend to taking my order, her demeanor shifted to totally distracted and slightly annoyed.  She nearly forgot to even collect my money.

Speaking of which, I noticed the booth next door had on the bottom of their menu, "Bacon biscuits - 3 for $2, while they last."  Biscuits and soup are a great pairing, so I asked for 3.  The first sign that I should have just walked away came when I noticed the girl taking the money was wearing latex gloves.  Why wear gloves to handle money?  Then she reached into the bin and grabbed the biscuits.  Um, you just took my money and used the same gloved hand to touch my food?  I should have said something.  I don't know why I didn't.  I guess I figured it wouldn't matter.  Clearly they felt that the gloves somehow provided magical protection from any and all transfer of grossness from public money to the food (I've seen this same belief in magic in a local drug-free butcher shop where they handle the raw meat and deli meat with the same gloved hand).  I never did eat the biscuits, as the first tentative bite revealed them to be hockey pucks in disguise.  I got my money back.  I wonder if they tossed the un-nibbled biscuits back into the bin to serve the next unlucky people?

Back to the soup.  Hubby and I met back up and sat down to tuck in.  The cheddar beer soup was... well it was lumpy, with an awful lot of something... thyme perhaps?  No beer flavour at all.  Or cheese, for that matter.  The loaded potato soup I'd been looking forward to was not what I remember having the past few years.  It was actually kind of bland.  We needed to regroup and try something else.

A stop at a booth offering a sampling platter of samosas, gyozas, spring rolls and wings was infinitely better.  Though the wings were cold and fairly inedible, the rest was quite delicious.  I would eat their veggie samosas any day.

We still wanted some meat, though.  So we stopped by a booth run by a local butcher/deli for a chipotle steak sandwich.  A whole steak, pounded thin and marinated in a chipotle marinade was tossed onto the grill, not overcooked at all and put on a bun.  And I need to commend the woman handling the money and the buns.  Not once did she touch the food with her bare hand.  She used tongs and serviettes and did everything in her power to keep something between herself and the food.  I was well pleased to see that.  I was equally pleased that the steak was a tender treat, without the gristle that one might expect in a piece of steak that large that's sold for a mere $5.

Full of savoury goodness, we wandered over to line up for coffee (that was one line that never seemed to get shorter all night).  Though pricey ($2 for a relatively small cup), the warming goodness was much needed.  I popped next door for some freshly made mini-doughnuts.  While there was a gut-churning variety of fried foods available, none appealed to us besides these warm gems (deep fried butter, anyone?)

We took our warm food (and warming hands) to the lower area, where we were pleasantly surprised to hear the strains of music we've enjoyed in years past.  AC/DC, Poison, Guns and Roses, Queen...  Dancing with a warm coffee and warm doughnuts made for a warm body and happy me.

By the time we headed out, the wind had begun to pick up and the temperature dropped further.  It was a good time to leave, with bellies full of some good food, heads full of good music and the knowledge that we'll be back again next year.

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