It is tomato season! This is a thrilling time at AY, so we decided to kick of the season with a 17 course tomato based dinner in the Appetizingly Yours kitchen. We host these dinners every two weeks, which we like to call the AY Dinner Series; Chef Kaya and the kitchen team create an exciting dining experience that features local foods with provocative pairings that are both playful and interactive. To celebrate this time of year when the local tomatoes are at their best, we decided a tomato theme would only be appropriate; all the decor, and each dish, was based off of tomatoes in some way. We had a lot of fun with this theme restriction, and we found that the ‘limitation’ of the theme sparked innovation throughout AY. Here are a few photos from the dinner, featuring the food, decor, and staff that made it all possible. Feel free to email us if you are interested in hosting a private party in the AY kitchen.
Fermented foods are making a big comeback in modern food culture, and for good reason. Before the invention of refrigeration, fermentation was a method of preserving food to last through difficult times where fresh food was scarce. Today, fermented foods are sought after for their unique flavour and health benefits (fermented foods are probiotic, promoting healthy bacteria grown in the intestinal tract).
‘Lacto-Fermentation’ gets it’s name from the bacteria which does the fermenting: Lactobacillus. This bacteria is found on the surface of all plants, and does an exceptionally good job at transforming carbohydrates in fruit into lactic acid, which is a natural preservative. Sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickles are all examples of the same process. Here at AY, we are currently fermenting some plumbs that were given to us by a local Italian man, who, from time to time, brings us fruits from his home garden. We are fermenting these particular plumbs (pictured) as a test to see what we can do with the final product, and how we can improve future batches.
For three solid weeks in July, the wild black raspberry plants in Ontario produce a high volume of berries ripe for the picking. Guelph is no exception, and there are many urban areas that produce a high amount of these delicious fruits. Our designated gardener Cole spotted a patch of black raspberries (also known as black caps) in a south end trail system and went back the next day to harvest some for the kitchen.
If you want to find some yourself, look for lightly wooded areas with heavy bush growth. The premature berries are red and look much like your typical raspberry, but they turn a deep purple/black once they ripen. A dead giveaway, if you are still unsure, is the leaf shape and colour; serrations on the leaf’s edge,
paired with a nearly white coloured under-leaf, will confirm them as black raspberries. The stems have menacing thorns, so watch out for scratches! You can compare your findings with our black raspberry plant photo on the right.
As with any foraging venture, be sure to harvest responsibly; take only the ripe berries, try not to damage any surrounding plants, and leave some for other foragers.
These berries are delicious as jams or jellies, or as we like them most, fresh off the plant.
Our kitchen staff have been busy developing their green thumbs this season! We tore out the sod and perennials from our 45’x15′ backyard space and turned it into a produce garden that will bring us fresh seasonal vegetables, fruits, berries, herbs and edible flowers for our catering dishes.
Our food philosophy at AY is one that is strongly rooted in environmental sustainability; local and seasonal food from our backyard epitomizes this philosophy. Come by our facilities and check it out, and follow it’s growth here on the AY blog in the future.