Monday, May 31, 2010

A FRESH idea

It has been just over 4 months now since I started this blog. It is incredible how much can happen in such a short time. I have met some really amazing people, both in my home city and across the world, thanks to the miracle of the web. As well, thanks to this site I have had a chance to participate in and write about a number of wonderful events, like the hospital benefit dinner. I have volunteered at the Toronto chapter of SlowFood, I have become a contributor at Foodwhirl and I have had an interview at Look and Taste. All pretty amazing for just 4 months time.

But now, I have something to tell you about that I find incredibly exciting. A while ago, quite by accident I stumbled upon the website for a movie called FRESH. It is a documentary, produced and directed by Ana Joanes, which examines the cost of our industrial food system and offers a practical alternative for how we grow, buy and eat our food. Some of the main characters featured in the film are urban farmer and activist, Will Allen, sustainable farmer and entrepreneur, Joel Salatin (made famous by Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma) and supermarket owner, David Ball, who challenges the Wal-Mart dominated economy.

I was very excited by the subject matter as it is something near and dear to my heart. As the mother of two young girls I am concerned about where and how our food originates and the consequences our current food system is having on our health and the environment. I also believe people are losing a sense of where their food comes from and I am very determined to ensure my children do not lose that connection.

So I sent an inquiry through the website asking if they planned to release the movie in Toronto. Much to my surprise, Ana Joanes responded to my e-mail. She said she would be delighted to include Toronto as part of their theatrical release, if I was willing to organize the event.

Needless to say, I said yes. I have spent the last two months organizing the event, which will include panel discussions, workshops and farm to table dinners. I am so thrilled to be part of bringing this film to Toronto.

The movie is only being distributed through community driven, grass-root initiative like this, which I think is very empowering for the communities involved. The intention is to raise awareness of local food resources and to inspire people to action. To quote from Ana's letter on her website: "FRESH is more than a movie, it’s a gateway to action. Our aim is to help grow FRESH food, ideas, and become active participants in an exciting, vibrant, and fast-growing movement".

You can find out about community screenings in your area through the FRESH website.

And now, because I always include a recipe in my posts, I want to show a simple and quick use for asparagus. What could be fresher than local asparagus, one of the first crops of the season.

This is a recipe for an Asparagus and Gruyere tart.  It is really just fresh asparagus arranged over puff pastry with a bit of dijon and gruyere.  It is ready in a half and hour and it is so simple and delcious.  You can eat it either as a side or as a main with a tossed salad.  I was thinking you could also change it up a bit and add an egg on top or a bit of proscuitto.

Asparagus and Gruyere Tart
adapted from Canadian Living Magazine

1 bunch asparagus, washed and trimmed

1pkg all butter puff pastry, thawed
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup shredded Gruyère cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1/2 tsp pepper
1 egg
1 tbsp water

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Set aside. Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees with the rack at the centre position.
Steam the prepared asparagus until tender-crisp about 2-3 minutes. Place immediately in an ice water bath to stop the cooking process and then pat dry.
Unroll the pastry sheet onto prepared pan. Spread evenly with mustard, leaving a 1-inch border. Arrange asparagus, side by side on mustard and sprinkle with cheeses and pepper.
In small bowl, beat egg and water and lightly brush the mixture over pastry border. Bake until puffed and golden and cheese is bubbly about 18 minutes. This dish is good warm or cold.

Next post: Spicy Hot Chocolate


  1. I love puff pastry. This looks so light and airy - delicious. Yummy for lunch.

  2. Oh my, that tart looks incredible! I want to try that for sure!

    Delightful Bitefuls

  3. I am very much enjoying your blog. I introduced asparagus to my hubby a year or two ago -- would you believe he avoided most anything green for most of his 60 years? --now he looks forward to asparagus season, they are not quite here yet,Fraser Valley in BC ) but soon so I will hold onto your recipe til I see them at our local farmers market...

  4. I love asparagus tarts....this looks really pretty!


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