Throwing down the gauntlet, he states that the Waterloo region has plenty of food that rivals any cuisine anywhere, anytime.
There are many other examples, but here are just a handful of world-class meals, whether made by restaurants or food manufacturers. I’m here. Others are flying under the radar.
One of the best ways to start the day is with a fresh, warm bagel with cream cheese. New York, no offense, but a Montreal-style bagel wins his taste head-to-head.
A Montreal-style bagel might have a honeyed sweetness that pairs perfectly with wood-fired bread. His Woodfire Bagels and City Café in Kitchener (the latter, by the way, opens this Labor Day Monday) have lovely flavors and rival his famous St-Viateur Bagel in Montreal.
According to City Café founder John Bergen, the recipe is simple, but the result is delicious.
“It’s low in salt and has sugar and rye flour to retain moisture,” Bergen said. Bake in a wood-burning oven.”
For another pastry, Kitchener-based Bosanski Brek has been making Eastern European filo pastries in Kitchener since the early 2000s. A popular morning, noon and evening snack, burek (or borek) may have originally been a Turkish creation.
Bosanski burek is born from a husband and wife team and their Bosnian Serbian heritage. Coiled phyllo flatbreads are available plain, with potatoes or meat, or with spinach and cheese. They can be found at Eurocan Foods, Italo Foods, Glogowski Euro Food, and Ammar’s Market.
The area has a number of Middle Eastern restaurants serving Lebanese, Turkish and Syrian cuisine.
Grabbing hummus or baba ganouji as an appetizer from the Amers Market or Arabesque is extremely satisfying.
From smoked salmon patties to pita chips
Heading to Canada’s east coast, T & J Seafoods’ Smoked Salmon Pate is a popular spread, but it can fly a little under the radar.
Invented 15 years ago by T&J founder Brian Jardine, this recipe begins with Atlantic salmon smoked for 17 hours before seasoning, blending and packaging.
(They aren’t dips, but if you’re adventurous, try T&J’s “Digby chicks” smoked herring. The excellent saltiness and smoke make it a perfect accompaniment to a refreshing beer.)
To scoop up these dips and patties, grab some Arabesque crunchy and delicious pita chips, or mix a bag of corn tortillas and culinary spheres from Taco Farm.
Tortilla chips are made through a three-day process that starts with a dough of masa, water, and salt, then cranks up the tortillas in the restaurant’s large machine. Tortillas are aged for a day to remove moisture (an important step) before being cut, fried, salted and bagged.
These chips are available at many local stores, including Central Fresh Market and Kitchen Kuttings, in over 100 cities across Canada. The chip is also available in the US, thanks to a partnership with local company Faire. It puts them in a class of their own.
A recent delicious discovery for me is Cremala Baquita, a thick, rich sour cream made by Local Dairies of Ingersoll, a business that began in Kitchener in the 1960s.
With three weekly deliveries of milk, Dairy adds healthy bacterial cultures to pasteurized cream, letting time and microbes do the work.
After 12 hours, a latin-style crema is packaged with added salt for a rich, distinctive taste. Even cheesemakers are amazed at the change.
Sajeev Singh of Local Dairy said:
When it comes to sweets, Aura-La Pastries & Provisions’ fine chocolates and Four All Ice Cream’s ice cream are top-notch by any standard.
This month we move to fall. Historically, it was time for people to preserve meat. This includes what is known as a “summer sausage in a cotton bag.”
Prior to refrigeration, in many countries around the world, in cool climates during the fall and winter, animals were processed and all small pieces, including minced meat, became known as “summer sausages”. It was cured by hanging so that it could be eaten later. That spring and summer.
Elmira’s Kitchen Kuttings uses an old German recipe to make summer sausages (made by Wallenstein’s AF Weber), says co-owner Lydia Weber.
“The beef or beef and pork combination is mixed with spices, pressed, bagged and smoked for about a week,” Weber said. “Then it takes another two weeks to heal.”
The fermentation process gives the sausage a tangy flavor and also prevents the growth of bad bacteria. (Incidentally, each batch of Kitchen Kuttings’ Summer His sausages is tested by the health department.)
But what’s really remarkable about summer sausages is that they don’t need to be refrigerated as long as they’re stored in a dry place and kept out of plastic.
“If you prefer, you can wrap it in brown paper and store it in the refrigerator,” says Lydia Weber.
Here in the Waterloo region, you’ll find plenty of top quality food, including world-class summer sausages steeped in world history.