Good Grains Make for a Great Night!
On Wednesday, August 17, FarmFolk CityFolk and the Italian Cultural Centre were pleased to host our Good Grains Event – an evening of local food with pizza and beer. This event was a chance to highlight local grains and their journey from the field into locally-made products. From beer to spirits to pizza dough and beyond, local grains can be found in many value-added products here in BC.
Our feature grain grower for the evening was Cedar Isle Farm – located in Agassiz. Farm owner Jim Grieshaber-Otto was not able to attend the event as the farm had experienced a last-minute combine breakdown, but in his place was Yoshi Sugiyama, who works with Jim at Cedar Isle. Yoshi came with a great display from Cedar Isle including several types of grain and flours, and a hand mill for those brave enough to mill their own flour! While the hand mill is often popular with the kids, many adults took a chance to try their hand at this traditional grain milling technique.
But grains were not the only local food highlighted at this event. Because while the grains are essential for a good pizza crust (and beer and vodka!) – those pizzas need toppings!
In planning the event we tried to consider how we could get each of the ingredients from local growers and processors. Costanza Testino at the ICC had lots of good ideas and contacts to get us moving along. For sauce we needed tomatoes which we sourced from Klippers Organics and SOLEFOOD Street Farms. I was able to pick up tomatoes from the Klippers at the Trout Lake Market in East Vancouver while I went directly to SOLEFOOD’s urban production site on Pacific Boulevard to get tomatoes from them. As much as I am used to buying local food for myself, it sure was a treat to be able to source ingredients to feed 100 people at a time!
In the end we got a selection of heirloom and roma tomatoes for the sauce which the kitchen crew at ICC cooked up in the days before the event.
The mushrooms for the pizza came from Specialty Mushroom Growers Co-op in Aldergrove, which I also picked up at the East Van Farmers Market. Sausages were made on site at ICC as part of a sausage-making workshop. Arugula and basil came from Fresh Roots Urban Farm. Cheese came from Natural Pastures Cheese Company on Vancouver Island. And microgreens for the salad came from the one and only Vancouver Food Pedalers Cooperative.
The staff at the ICC did a great job of setting things up to create a great mood for the event. I felt bad showing up in my shorts and t-shirt with such a wonderful dispaly! Shauna MacKinnon from FarmFolk CityFolk made some great signs to highlight the growers and their ingredients, while the Food Pedalers provided decorative trays of wheatgrass for display.
Once guests started to arrive the pizza making was in full swing immediately. I was at the ICC community outdoor oven preparing pizzas with ICC Community Engagement Coordinator, Roberto Saletti who was doing the baking. Katie, our wonderful volunteer topped the pizzas with fresh ingredients and cut them when they came out of the oven. It was fun being the cook, but all we could see from where we were was a long line up of hungry folks waiting for pizza! Roberto cooked the pizzas in true Italian style, scooping them up from the prep table and sliding them into the oven. From there he never takes his eyes off them as he watches and turns them so they do not burn. It takes only 3 minutes to cook a pizza in this oven, so getting distracted can easily lead to a very crispy pizza.
But the night was not all about the pizza – because pizza dough is not the only place the grains end up in Vancouver’s food system. Or should I say, food and drink system?
Odd Society Distillery was on site and seemed to be quite popular throughout the night. I have not yet determined whether it was because of the miniature still on display; the engaging conversation about local grains and distillation; or, perhaps, the copious amount of free samples being shared with the guests. Whatever the case, everyone seemed to leave the display with a smile and a bit of warmth…
Another popular spot, despite this picture, was with Luppolo Brewing – Vancouver’s newest microbrewery. They also had a great demonstration display, showing the many steps in the brewing process. Of course it was their other display, demonstrating the pouring of the beer from the keg to the cup, that was the most popular and where everyone was when this picture was taken! Luppolo are just in the process of building their brewery on Venables Street near the Landyachtz building (local skateboards anyone?) and hope to be open very soon! Watch for the latest of Vancouver’s microbreweries to hit the scene…
It was a great group of folks that made it to the event and I was very pleased to see a number of familiar faces from the neighbourhood. It is interesting the wide range of folks you can entice to an event with something as simple as pizza and beer. And on a beautiful summer night like we had it made it easy to come out with friends and family, spend some time outside and enjoy the food, the drink, and good company!