For the last few months, I have been working with the wonderful not-for-profit company, Meal Exchange. They are passionate about getting youth involved in the local food movement, working to alleviate hunger across Canada, but always with a local focus. I happen to believe strongly in their cause and, back in December 2011, I looked to get involved with them. Lo and behold, I came across National BBQ Day: an annual, Canada-wide event that encourages people to visit their local farmer’s markets, purchase some great food (steak, burgers, chicken, veggies, fruit…), throw it on the grill and then send in their photos for the chance to win some great prizes! I’m a big proponent of visiting a market instead of a grocery store whenever possible and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love BBQ. Put these two together (with, again, a chance to win some great stuff) and you have a winning combination!
Meal Exchange has been very fortunate to partner with the incredible Chateau des Charmes, a stunning vineyard in Niagara-on-the-Lake. (Proceeds from the sale of each bottle of Generation Seven wine go toward Meal Exchange.) This beautiful spot was the location of this year’s media launch on Sunday, June 3rd.
BBQ-themed food stations were set up for patrons to enjoy with a wide variety of goods to sample. Matt Kantor, chef behind the Secret Pickle Supper Club, presented three options: grilled Moroccan shrimp with chermoula & cilantro; lamb kofta with yogurt; and grilled dates stuffed with chorizo and served with a roasted pequillo sauce. I opted for the first and last and was not disappointed. The bacon-wrapped dates were especially good and, after watching him demonstrate how to make them, I will most certainly be trying these at home.
The Tide and Wine Oyster Company offered up a bevy over seafood treats, much to the delight of the people at the vineyard! Over on the other side, the Napoleon Grill chef Therese de Grace whipped up heaping portions of sticky, rich short ribs and and tempeh tacos with tomatillos, vegan chipotle mayo, pico de gallo and shredded lettuce. All of those plates were quickly – and happily – devoured.
Tim Tufts, the “master home griller,” created a stuffed pork tenderloin glazed with local whiskey and maple syrup, served with marinated and grilled asparagus. It was quite entertaining to watch Tim and his daughter cook and interact with the people there, demonstrating how to butterfly, tenderize and stuff the pork tenderloin. The stuffing contained mushrooms, bell peppers, breadcrumbs and red wine that had been cooked down and placed in the middle of the tenderloin.
Great food, great wine, great people all there for a great cause. Meal Exchange has been instrumental in helping so many across Canada and it was wonderful to see people out to support them. National BBQ Day is going to be a fantastic event – if you haven’t yet, sign up to host or attend a BBQ of your own here!