From the Ontario Food Terminal, Executive Chef Lorenzo Loseto reports that the best Ontario produce of the year has been available to us in the last two weeks.  He says this is because of the warm daytime weather, followed by cool nights without frost in Ontario. As a result, there are wonderful summer vegetables available like beans, field tomatoes, field peppers and even strawberries, although they are the last of this year’s berry offerings.

The Chef noted that his pea supplier and artichoke supplier are now the only Ontario producers of these products at the Terminal and he worries about will happen if they give up. His regular apple supplier is an orchard owned by two brothers, and they are winding down. Together they have only one son who will not be taking over the business. The brothers have been selling apples at the Terminal all their lives. For the last two years they have been trying to sell their orchard and have received no offers. They are now starting to bulldoze their trees so that grain growers will be able to use their lands. It would seem that their work is too hard to attract new growers.

The Chef notes that there is only one mushroom grower at the Terminal who competes against Asian and East Indian importers who seem to be cornering the market.

Fall produce has arrived. Apples have started but some varieties like fuji, matsu and golden delicious have not yet appeared. Pears and many different kinds of squash have arrived. The Chef mentioned that he prefers the bosc and anjou pears. There are lots of potatoes, and all the herbs are still on offer. What the Chef liked best from Ontario was romanesco, Italian chicory, artichokes which you may be able to get at Fiesta Farms, and concord grapes. Field cucumbers are done for the year.

Romanesco Head

Romanesco Head

On the import side of the Terminal, Chef Loseto noted that there is a lemon shortage tripling the price for lemons, although he has not yet noticed the price rise in the supermarkets he visits. He bought Italian chestnuts to try in new dishes. He does not use chestnut flour because he finds it is too bitter. But if he makes it himself it seems to work. Also, he roasts and purées them. They are then incorporated into a variety of foods including chocolate tart and spaetzle.

Persimmons and pomegranates have arrived from California. Surprisingly, the Chef lauded the melons and watermelons for the US. They are now in season which takes place about one month after the Ontario season. With the cooler weather he says they are particularly good this year, although he acknowledges that most people regard them as summer fare and ironically stop eating them now.

The Chef has begun to serve game at George and is using Ontario venison. By the end of the month he will be switching to braised meats like short ribs. Squabs are being offered. The Chef is working on perfecting an Alberta wagyu carpaccio beef dish which is rolled with a Singapore slaw inside. He tried a new lamb supplier from Olliffe and thought it was wonderful. The question, as Olliffe acknowledges, is whether the quality and taste of this lamb will be consistent.

The Copper River salmon, Gaspe turbot and swordfish season is over and we are turning to Pacific halibut, BC Dungeness crab and bass from the US. We are now able to buy the Oceanwise certified laughing bird shrimp from Belize which we like a lot. You can buy it at Diana Seafood.

We are starting to offer a Quebec produced unpasteurized Jersey de Fyord cheddar cheese. This and other superb Quebec cheeses are so good that it makes us question whether we should risk sacrificing this industry to achieve the common market agreement with the Europeans. But we are not so sympathetic to the plight of the price enhancing Canadian dairy farmers and egg cartel if imports are allowed in duty free.

The dessert menus are being rewritten to incorporate this season’s pears, pumpkins and apples.

Wild BC chanterelles and pine mushrooms are still going strong. This New York Times article gives the recipe for a mushroom stew which looks good. Basically you use mostly domestic mushrooms to save costs but add wild mushrooms for taste at the end. Have not tried it yet.

Follow: Le Patron @lepatronecc3 for ruminations on local seasonal food markets as well as speculation on broader global food issues

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