St. Norbert Farmers Market, usually abuzz with Saturday morning shoppers eager to get the best of what Manitoba farmers and artisans have to offer, was decidedly more laid back and elegant this past Thursday evening for Farmers’ Feast, Food Matters Manitoba’s annual fundraising event.
The space felt a bit magical; it was softly lit with chandeliers and white Christmas lights, the tables were lined with white linens, and the lovely sounds of Grace Hrabi floated out to greet you as you walked in, or mingled with you as you made your way through the crowds, eyeing each restaurant’s offerings.
Each one of the dozen or so restaurants offered up delicious fare, but for me, there were a few dishes that were really special. The Tallest Poppy’s chicken and waffles are always delicious, but they added peach compote – a little spicy and a little sweet – that really set them off. Peasant Cookery worked some form of magic on bread that turned it into something that made me feel even sorrier for people who choose to eat Paleo. Seriously. I didn’t know bread and tomatoes could taste like that – sweet, salty, slightly vinegary and with a touch of that deep-fried deliciousness without being greasy – but it did and I thank whoever was responsible for it. Along the same lines of culinary alchemy, Yujiro’s offering of a mussel in the half shell, doused in a rich, slightly spicy mayo-based sauce was incredibly delicious. I looked around the space, and people had two or three empty shells on their plate, and rightly so, because they were next level delicious.
My friend and I foolishly waited till we had finished our dinner to have our dessert, which we totally shouldn’t have, because we missed out on a few things. What we did have – a chocolate from Contance Popp, a honey tart from Chew, an apple and honey popsicle from Pop Cart and an individual tub of ice cream from Cornell Creame (I had that for breakfast the next day, because ice cream is totally a breakfast food) – were a tasty way to end an indulgent night.
Wine and beer were available for $5 a glass, and there were wines to sample from Kenaston Wine Market. I only wish the people offering the wine for sample had engaged with us more. I may be totally off base, but I’d like the person pouring my sample to tell me what hints of fruit and undertones of wood I should be looking for.
Farmers Feast is a fundraiser like no other. It’s a gala without the formality, and with everything that makes Manitoba so great: a cool fall evening, an unconventional location, great food prepared by great chefs and awesome people, both friends and strangers, to share the experience with.