TASTE! A Celebration of Regional Cuisine (Featured Advertorial)

Prince Edward County regional chefs, winemakers and growers invite you to their TASTE! celebration, a day-long feast of sample-sized gourmet food and wine.

Prince Edward County is an island just south of Belleville. It’s only minutes from Highway 401, but cross one of its three bridges and you enter another world. It’s a laid-back world of country roads, pretty villages and heritage farmhouses. Of friendly old Main Streets and exciting new vineyards, wineries and restaurants. These days 10th generation farmers share this lovely island with chefs, winemakers, artists, creative freelancers and other refugees from the city who are making The County their home.

Visitors come year round to kick back here, but Autumn is a favourite time for foodies. Farmers’ roadside stands are laden with fresh produce, and restaurants make great use of the bounty of the County, creating dishes filled with fresh local flavours. Best of all, in September TASTE! a celebration of regional cuisine takes place in Picton.

TASTE! started in 2002 to showcase Prince Edward County’s regional producers and winemakers and the exciting culinary scene developing here. In eight years, that scene has grown enormously, and so has TASTE! Now big white tents set up in the gardens of the historic Crystal Palace turn the event into a gourmet village for one delicious day with fine food stands, wine tasting booths, live music, strolling picnickers and chefs vying to offer the most unforgettable dish of the day. Portions are sample-sized, so you can do what we all dream of: try a little bit of everything.

TASTE! is one of Ontario’s Top 100 Festivals, and now sensibly limits ticket sales to ensure everyone has room to really enjoy. This year there are 24 diverse food booths, including the talented (and handsome) Jamie Kennedy who has a home and farm in the County where he grows produce for his Toronto restaurant.

A passionate supporter of local food, he has taken part in TASTE! every year. He’s just one of many top chefs who will tempt you with their creations, and there are 18 beverage booths pouring local wines, cider, beers and non-alcoholic beverages.

If this is your first time at TASTE! you’re in for a treat. Here’s how it works. Admission tickets are $25 and include entry, parking, a souvenir tasting glass, a handful of complimentary tasting tickets to get you started and free seats at seminars and demonstrations (such as barrel-making with Pete Bradford, owner of one of Canada’s four traditional cooperages). Live music plays all day. You can purchase additional tasting tickets at $1 each. Vendors charge from one to four tickets for good sized samples of apps, mains, desserts and beverages. Take your time and savour the flavours of harvest time.

TASTE! is still a one-day event (limited to 19 years and over), but this year exciting off-site events are happening all over the County for five days around it. Take Heritage Cooking Classes at the Waring House and From the Farm Cookery Schools or in the kitchen of the restored Macaulay House. Enjoy. sommelier-led wine tours with Billy Munnelly (of Billy’s Best Bottles fame) or Debbie Trenholm of Savvy Company. Watch glassblower Mel Wilder create a wine glass, or get out in the vineyard and lend a hand harvesting grapes, followed by a great harvest party. Need a ride? Hop on a special TASTE! bus at Union Station that will bring you to the show, do a quick tour of wineries then take you back the same day. There is a smorgasbord of things to enjoy in the County year round, and especially during this glorious autumn week. For the full event itinerary and details of participants, entertainment, special packages and more, visit www.tastecelebration.ca or call 1.866.845.6644
–Jan Davies