Pack a patriotic picnic
Our fleeting Canadian summers provide motivation to get outside for a meal while we can, so pack up some of the best of the season and your region, add a blanket, knife and corkscrew, and find a patch of grass. Julie Van Rosendaal and photographer Hamin Lee ask three chefs known for their sense of place to create the perfect picnic basket for their part of the country
Executive chef, Langdon Hall Country House Hotel & Spa in Cambridge, Ont.
At Langdon Hall, a Relais and Châteaux property, chef Jason Bangerter finds inspiration just by looking out the window to the kitchen garden. Having trained at George Brown College and cooked in kitchens across Europe, Bangerter's return to the terroir he grew up in, and his relationships with local growers and producers, makes the fine-dining experience at Langdon Hall more approachable than pretentious – and uniquely Ontarian. "I'd probably fill a container with clean foraged and garden vegetables from the property of Langdon Hall," Bangerter says. "And head to the Niagara escarpment or outside my hometown of Milton. Those are pretty magical spots – my wife and kids, our husky and I, hike and bike at both."
Bangerter's picks are the Niagara Escarpment by the falls at Hilton Falls, on the rocks at Rattlesnake Point or a lavender field down Highway 25, outside Milton.
In Jason's basket
- A nice chunk of Ontario cheddar or Upper Canada Cheese Country Niagara Gold cheese
- Niagara prosciutto, or a pot of Murray’s Farm Heritage chicken liver parfait
- Apples from Chudleigh’s Farm
- Fresh baguette or some other fancy loaves from Blackbird Baking Co.
- Fresh strawberries from Springridge Farm
- A container of foraged and garden vegetables from Langdon Hall, peppery watercress from the stream, crunchy radishes, carrots and pole beans
- A jar of some kind of pickles, ramps, beets, navet (turnip) or cucumbers
- Half bottles of Tawse Spark sparkling wine (it makes a nice six pack)
- Jug of Orange Snail Brewers Iron Pig pale ale
Chef and co-owner of Joy Road Catering in the Okanagan Valley, B.C.
Joy Road Catering specializes in cuisine du terroir, or food of the earth, and excels at alfresco dining, hosting regular vineyard dinners at wineries as well as God's Mountain Estate villa. The company is also sought-after for weddings, exquisite picnics and barbecues, allowing guests to enjoy meals sourced from their stunning surroundings. "We've tailored our workplace to embrace the great outdoors," says chef Dana Ewart, Joy Road's co-owner (with chef Cam Smith). "It's who Cam and I have always been, wherever we have lived. In Montreal, we spent our weekends foraging for wild mushrooms in different parts of Quebec; in Toronto, we would flee the city to collect wild ramps. Here, the grapes grow outside, the winemaking for a large part happens outside, all of our food grows outside – why not enjoy your meal out of doors, too?"
Ewart offers these suggestions for an outdoor lunch locale: "Walk up Munsen Mountain for a view of Okanagan Lake, the mountains and vineyards, meander through the vineyards and orchards on the old Kettle Valley Railway Trail out to the old trestle, or sit in the Penticton Art Gallery's Japanese garden."
In Dana's basket
- Anything from the Penticton Farmers’ Market, open Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. (go early if you want to snag some of her galettes)
- Seasonal Okanagan fruit, her top choices are nectarines and raspberries
- A bunch of baby rainbow carrots or heirloom French breakfast radishes
- Cheese from Upper Bench Estate Winery and Creamery, the King Cole blue is delicious with local pears and market honeycomb
- Terrine, rillette or cured sausage, or chorizo would be delicious with Okanagan apples
- Summerland’s Dominion Cider, Naramata Cider’s Cider Maker’s Select, local brews from Cannery Brewing Co, or a rosé or Viognier from TH Wines
Chef and co-owner of RGE RD in Edmonton
Chef Blair Lebsack of Edmonton's RGE RD (an abbreviation of the north-south survey roads that map out rural Western Canada) is driven by the flavours of the prairies. The bricks-and-mortar restaurant began as a series of roving farm dinners that still have a huge following, and at events you'll often find Lebsack working on makeshift prep tables and cooking in handmade cob ovens out in open farm fields, connecting people at the table with the source of their meals. "This is where we encourage people to get to know their local butchers, bakers, pastry makers, farmers and restaurants," Lebsack says. "I love outdoor dining. It makes for a great meal, but more than that it builds a wonderful memory. Location and company all lend to the experience."
Lebsack recommends the old Royal Alberta Museum grounds overlooking the Edmonton river valley.
In Blair's basket
- Four Whistle Farm duck rillette
- Brassica mustard
- Gold Forest Grains mountain bread with sour cherry compote
- Heritage tomatoes with homemade ricotta, first-press canola oil, sea salt and sprouted wheat berries
- Smoked pork loin with corn and red chili relish, arugula and scarlet frills salad
- Canelé (small french pastry with caramelized crust and soft custard middle)
- Blindman Brewing Kettle Sour from Lacombe, Alta.
Styling by Odessa Paloma Parker. Makeup and hair by Sheri Stroh for Make Up For Ever/Moroccanoil/Plutino Group. Prop styling by Rodney Smith/Judy Inc. Food styling by LeeAnne Wright/Judy Inc. Model: Brooke Harris from Elmer Olsen Model Management. Shot on location at Landon Hall Country House Hotel & Spa, Cambridge, Ont.
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