I am not one much for getting in the car and driving to Toronto. It's a bit of a haul and, frankly, when Montreal, Ottawa and Syracuse are all pretty much the same two hours plus or minus away it get hard to convince the family to go west given the delights to the east, north and south. But once in a while the stars align. Once in a while I have to head to the Big Smoke to take a course for work and that lets me catch up with the beer scene in Canada's biggest city. And I may well pair.
In a couple of weeks, I will be at the fifth annual Brewers Plate at Roy Thompson Hall. It's a fund raiser for a charity, Green Thumbs Growing Kids, which is one I can back. See, even if I am a grouch about "pairing" I am more than a foodie. I am a producer. A mad extremist locovore. Half the bread we eat is our own. For a few years, I have grown vegetables and herbs on our suburban plot trying to get some of the buzz I had in my old farmhouse where I had an acre vegetable garden. Back then, we had 200 wine grapes, 125 strawberry plants, 150 raspberry canes and annually too out 1800 onion, over a ton of spuds, carrots, beets and it goes on and on. One more thing. I made cheese. And we are bringing it back this spring. We bought the books. We have read the websites. We are going to see how much we can now get off a parcel that is more like 100 x 60 feet instead of 600 x 160 feet. Twenty five Cabernet Franc and Viognier grape vines are on their way. Leek, collard, giant blue squash and even cardoon seeds have been ordered. Should be fun watching it take off. And Green Thumbs Growing Kids brings that sort of project to kids in the middle of a concrete jungle:
Starting with the idea of connecting children to their food, we give them the tools to grow, harvest and enjoy food through hands-on learning programs on public school and park lands. Food produced in the school garden during the school year goes into lunch or snack programs - into students' mouths. Summer produce is equally distributed among volunteers and families who participate in the garden work. School-based programs that engage children in their class time are linked to Ontario curriculum, especially the science strands, but also math, language, art, social studies, and obviously healthy eating and healthy physical activity. Our programs are run in each school's garden, or if the weather is not agreeable, in the classroom. Teachers book us for the workshops through an email exchange, and we support the garden learning in our workshops in much the same way as a physical education teacher supports health curriculum or a librarian supports literacy, across the grades.
How does that tie into beer? The Brewers Plate brings Ontario craft brewers together with a gang of chefs showing off what can be done with local food and beer. Do not fear. I will be on guard. While I will not wear a baseball cap I do plan to defend myself against being convinced by a room full of... pairers. Even if it is "...one of the first and foremost locavore celebrity events." But, and it is a big but, put me in a garden of food with a stash full of great beer, a smoking grill and other good homemade produce and - like the proverbial space alien asked to distinguish between North American conservatives and liberals - I have to admit that I might look a heck of a lot of the inner most private crazed dreams of most of the event's attendees. I might even learn a trick or two.
I expect there will be updates as it approaches but one more thing. Is it just me or do others think "locavore" looks a lot like a word for crazed eaters, perhaps a term for hoards of flesh eating zombies making way through a suburb to the screams of its doomed inhabitants? What else could we call it? Loca-chow? Near feed? I'll have to think a bit about it.