Posts Tagged ‘Midsummer herbfest’

You’re invited to the best herb garden in town!

Posted by Debbie

Friday, July 26th, 2013

Calling all gardeners & herb lovers:  spend a day in the country with us at home-grown Midsummer Herbfest this Sunday (July 28).  You will find our own  Accredited Sommelier, Debbie Trenholm, MCing the ever popular Chef Cook-off. You may have caught her on this morning’s CTV Ottawa Morning where she was with one of the ‘competing’ local chefs – Josh Gillard who is the new owner of Ottawa’s Must Wine Bar & Kitchen.

Watch the video of Josh creating this recipe below…in 4 minutes flat!

 What is the Chef Cook-off all about?

It is a fun & friendly competition of 3 local chefs who will whip up dishes before your eyes as you learn about their culinary techniques. Here`s the exotic dishes that Chef Josh Gillard will be creating during his lunchtime presentation.

Photo on set (left to right: Debbie, Jeff Hopper – CTV host, Chef Josh, Laurie (Josh’s wife) & Bruno (Herbfest PR Director)



More about competing Chef #2: Josh Gillard

Executive Chef/Owner of The Galley at The Nepean Sailing Club, is a graduate from the Culinary Arts program at Algonquin College.    Josh grew up with a taste for cooking from a very young age. Josh’s 15 years in the culinary industry have included positions in many acclaimed restaurants in Ottawa. Josh’s specialties include French Cuisine, Italian, Mediterranean and Tapas styles. Josh enjoys creating straight forward dishes using the seasons’ best to using his creative side bringing flavours together that are unforgettable.   Josh invites you to come and share the “nautical vacation hospitality”, relaxed and attentive service, tucked-away on the second floor within the warmth of the Nepean Sailing Club.

His most recent endeavor includes ownership of a wine and small plates establishment, located in the heart of Ottawa’s Byward Market called Must Wine Bar & Kitchen. This quaint little gem is revolutionizing Ottawa’s palate through exciting food and wine pairings, and offering a selection of high-end wines by the glass.  Josh and his culinary team offer small plates of exquisite arrangements of many flavours & textures that are a MUST try! Wine flights and pairings by the glass accompany the many exciting creations you’ll come to enjoy at Must.

At the Chef Cook-off, the crowd will be oohing and  ahhing while Josh makes Elderberry Bison with elderberry infused sambuca reduction,  caramelized apples & burnt scape goat cheese

See you there!

Elderberry sambuca

4cups fresh or frozen elderberries
4oz elderberry syrup or must
750 ml black sambuca

Combine ingredients and store for 30 days, then strain


Elderberry sambuca reduction

2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp elderberry jam or jelly
1/4 small red onion
2 oz elderberry sambuca
6 oz beef stock (or bison)
2 oz 35% cream
salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in a pan, add red onions and jam. Cook for 1 min then add sambuca, light on fire and let it go out on its own.
Add beef or bison stock and reduce to half; then add cream and reduce by another half.  Season with salt & pepper.

Scape pesto goat cheese

1 cup chopped scapes
2 fresh cloves garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup parmesan
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1tsp sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
500g goat cheese (room temp)

In a food processor, combine scapes, garlic and almonds and pulse till fine, then slowly add olive oil.
Thicken by adding parmesan, then sugar to cut back on bitterness. Add salt and pepper to taste and lastly, combine with goat cheese to desired flavor


Caramelized apples

1 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 thinly sliced apples
3 Tbsp brown sugar

Heat butter till melted then add sliced apples and sauté for 1 min on high heat.  Reduce heat and add sugar.
Cook till sugar begins to brown, remove from heat and pan.


Elderberry almond bark

1 cup roasted almonds
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup water

Roast almonds in the oven till lightly browned, then cool almonds and put in a ziplock bag and roughly crush with a mallet.
Melt butter in a pan and add brown sugar and water.
On low heat cook till mixture begins to thicken and add honey and cook for 1 more minute.
Add crushed almonds and remove from heat and mix till fully coated and then pour onto butter sprayed parchment.  Let cool and then break into pieces.
Store layered with parchment in a dry place.


Elderberry cider vinaigrette

1/4 cup Elderberry must or syrup
2 tbs sugar (more if desired)
1/3cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup strongbow or desired cider
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar1tsp black pepper
Salt to taste if desired

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate, then whisk together (or in a bottle and shake).


Arugula salad


Cut an avocado in half and remove the pit.  Score in centimeter squares using a butter knife, being careful not to puncture the skin.
In a bowl mix baby arugula, elderberry vinaigrette and avocado, using a spoon to skim it from the skin.
Set aside and let arugula take in the flavors.

To Assemble – putting your bison & accompaniments all together as a full meal

Season bison with salt and pepper and sear on all sides in a pan with butter.
With the bison still in the pan, start to make the reduction, add red onions and elderberry jam then add elderberry sambuca and burn off alcohol. Remove bison from the pan and set aside on a pan to purge.
Add stock, reduce then add cream and reduce further. Then remove sauce from heat or leave on ultra low.
In a separate pan start to caramelize the apples.
On a plate take some of the goat cheese and make into 2 thin patties about 3 inches in diameter

To plate everything nicely together…

Start by plating the salad as its served cold. Lay down a bed on each plate of arugula, trying to save the avocado for the top. Crush or chop the almond bark and sprinkle over the salad.
Place bison on the grill or very briefly in the oven, making sure to just reheat and not cook further.
On the other half of the plate, first start with a pool of the reduction, then place the bison in the center.
Then take the caramelized apples and put on top of the bison and the goat cheese patty on top of the apples. With a kitchen torch(or blow torch) char the top of the goat cheese.

Serve immediately with a well paired wine and enjoy!


Never been to Herbfest?

Boasting over 100 vendors and artisans, with back-to-back lectures, the fun Chef Cook-off, live entertainment, and plenty more with lots of time to relax in the sunshine and meander through the beautiful landscaped herbal garden beds.

Don’t miss our Cheese Sommelier, Vanessa Simmons who will be under the big top tent with nibbles of artisan cheeses for her presentation: Summer Cheese Sizzlers – A Tasty Discovery of What’s Hot in Local Artisan Cheese. Don’t miss this fun day out for the whole family!

More about Herbfest at


Archer’s Hard Lemonade

Posted by Debbie

Friday, August 31st, 2012

A favorite summertime event is the Midsummer Herbfest. Each year Savvy Company is involved as the host of the ever popular Chef Cook-off where 3 restaurant chefs battle are put to the task of creating a dish featuring the International Herb of the Year. This year, the Rose, was the special ingredient.

The chefs made simple and elaborate recipes that can be found on Here is a new twist on a lemonade to serve as you unwind on the patio, on the cottage dock or when you fire up the BBQ.


Archer’s Hard Lemonade

Chef Chris Archer
Tennessy Willems – Ottawa’s popular wood oven pizza place

juice of six lemons
2 cups white sugar
3 cups water
1 vanilla bean


  1. Dissolve sugar in water and add to lemon juice.
  2. Split the vanilla bean length wise and scrape out the seeds and add to the lemonade.
  3. Put the empty pod aside.
  4. Whisk in the seeds in the lemonade and strain into pitcher.
  5. Chill until cold.

To make the drink, fill a tall glass with ice and add the following:

1oz Vodka
½ oz Lychee Liqueur
4 oz Lemonade
one half of the scraped vanilla pod to stir with
slice of lemon
half a dozen or so fresh Canadian raspberries
¾ oz rose water
then drizzle ½ oz Chambord into the lemonade


Sizzlin’ for Summer: Cheese Thrill for the Grill

Posted by Vanessa

Friday, July 20th, 2012

Inspired by a favorite seasonal pastime & soaring temperatures, Guernsey Girl, this week’s cheese pick, is one of a handful featured on CBC’s In Town and Out with Michael Bhardwaj, & the perfect cheese companion for summer grilling adventures.  To listen to the interview – Guernsey Girl – In Town and out with Michael Bhardwaj & Vanessa Simmons.

Handcrafted in Jordon Station, Niagara, the milk is sourced from one of only a handful of Guernsey cow herds in Canada who call local 145-year old Comfort Family Farm their home.  Upper Canada Cheese Company, known for legendary firm, washed-rind Niagara Gold & soft, surface-ripened Comfort Cream can be credited with my cheesey version of fun in the sun.

Guernsey cows yield richer milk, higher in butterfat & protein than other milks.  More enriched in beta carotene, the cheese’s brilliant yellow color intensifies during summer. Guernsey Girl falls into the “fresh, unripened” cheese category & is considered a grilling cheese styled after Finnish bread cheese Juustoleipa or better known Halloumi.

Sometimes called a “bread cheese”, Guernsey Girl develops a crispy, toasty almost crunchy crust-like coating on the outside with pan frying or grilling & soft, gooey inside, yet remarkably still retains its form.  Caramelized, sweet, smoky & salty flavors combine with fresh milk taste & squeaky texture similar to fresh cheddar curds.  Any way you sear, skewer, slice or stack it – the keys to success are a clean, hot grill (med-high heat),  patting dry the cheese first, a little bit of patience & having extra on hand for your first attempt.  The final result is so worth the effort!

Guernsey Girl is available at Sobeys & select Metro & Loblaws stores.  Other great grillers include Halloumi (many varieties available at most grocery stores, or Middle Eastern Market Al Kalal on Kirkwood), fresh local feta (Clarmell Farms at the Manotick or Kanata Farmers’ Market, or Canreg Station Farm at Ottawa Farmer’s Market), or small soft wheels of goat or sheep’s milk  from Fromagerie Les Folies Bergères at il Negozio Nicastro on Wellington, or the Parkdale Market.  Buy these a little young for the BBQ, give them 2-3 mins on each side & watch them closely as these will melt.

Grilling cheeses are a great protein substitute for vegetarians (the ultimate in “grilled cheese”), served on their own as a side dish, or substituted into a Caprese salad for a change, with fresh tomatoes & basil, olive oil drizzle & balsamic.  They even work as dessert with fresh grilled pineapple, peaches, or plums, macerated berries & topped with a heaping scoop of Pascale’s goat cheese ice cream.

Catch more hot cheeses with Vanessa at upcoming HerbFest on July 29th, 2012 during her demo Summer Sizzlers – A Tasty Discovery of What’s Hot in Local Artisan Cheese from 9:30am – 10:30am & July 31 where artisan cheeses join grill favorites such as shrimp on the barbie as Savvy Company goes downunder during “Let’s go to Australia”, a fun evening featuring favorite summertime Australian wines.

Cheese: Guernsey Girl
Producer: Upper Canada Cheese Company
Interesting Fact: Guernsey Girl’s resistance to melting is due to a higher level of acidity and more closely knit protein network with tighter bonds that are harder to break when exposed to heat.

Enjoy! – Vanessa


A fun day in the country – Chefs Cook-off at Midsummer HerbFest

Posted by Debbie

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

The annual Midsummer Herbfest, an Ottawa Valley tradition returns for its sixteenth year. It is a fun one-day must-attend event for those interested in herbs, gardening, cooking and living a healthy lifestyle. Held on the grounds of The Herb Garden, a privately owned AGRI-tourist destination in an idyllic rural setting that provides for a unique rural ambience.

For the 8th year in a row, we are proud to be involved in the ever popular Chef Cookoff. As MC & Sommelier, I will present the dishes, offer wine & food pairing tips, as well as Ontario wines that will match perfectly with the chefs’ creations.

The popular Chef Cook-off, boasting three esteemed local chefs:
Cesare Santaguida, owner & chef at Vittoria Trattoria (located in the Byward Market as well as Riverside

Neil Mather, Executive Chef at Graffiti’s located in the Holiday Inn Kanata

Brian Vallipuram, Executive Chef at Grill 41 located in Lord Elgin Hotel

Each year, the chefs are challenged to create any recipe including the Herbfest’s themed herb – this year it is horse radish & showcase their talent by doing a cooking demo under the big top tent before 100s of people. Here is a sneak preview of the recipes. Try them before Herbfest, or join us to see the chefs in action on July 24 – see you there!  More about Midsummer Herbfest at

Horseradish & raisin risotto | pan seared Bison tenderlion

Chef Cesare Santaguida, Vittoria Trattoria

Serves: 4 persons

Beet Risotto
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 shallots (finely chopped)
2 tablespoons fresh horseradish (grated)
2 tablespoons Miso paste
1 cup Arborio rice
½ cup white wine
4 cups chicken stock
½ cup raisins
Parmigiano Reggiano

In a large sauce pan, heat olive oil and half of the butter over medium heat. Cook shallots for about 3 minutes until translucent, stirring occasionally. Add Arborio rice and continue stirring for another minute. Add wine horseradish and Miso paste stir for 2 minutes, or until wine has evaporated. Pour in 1 cup of the chicken stock and let reduce. Slowly add one ladle of chicken stock and stir until evaporated. Repeat this step until the risotto is al dente (16 to 20 minutes). Use remaining chicken stock to finish the cooking process. Remove from heat and mix in the remaining butter, raisins and parmigiano cheese.

Bison Tenderloin
1 ½ to 2 pounds Bison (or beef) tenderloin
2 teaspoons grape seed oil
salt and pepper to taste

In a saucepan on high heat, add 2 teaspoons of grape seed oil. Once the oil is hot, place meat in pan. Sear for 3 to 4 min per side.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Plating Directions
Place about ½ cup of risotto on plate, Place 1 piece of tenderloin

Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.

Fitzroy Beef Tenderloin with salsify & bean salad in horseradish dressing

Chef Neil Mather, Graffiti’s

2x 3oz medallion of local beef tenderloin pan seared medallions med rare to medium

1 slice white bread cubed without crust
1/2 cup cream
grated horseradish root
ground clove
salt & pepper

bring ingredients to the boil & blend

1 shaved salsify
2 oz green beans blanched & sliced
1oz sesame oil
1 pinch sesame seeds
salt & pepper to taste
grated horseradish root

toss ingredients together

Plating: Plate salad with medallions of beef & horseradish sauce. Garnish with infused chive oil & tarragon sprig

Roulade of Salmon & Scallop with Tomato Horseradish Cream Sauce

Chef Brian Vallipura, Grill 41

8 ozs salmon
2 U-10 scallops
2 plum tomatoes – diced
2 tablespoon fresh horse radish – grated
½ onion (medium size) – diced
1 spoon pickled ginger
¼ cup oil
2 tablespoons garlic
1 cup 35% cream
75 ml rice vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Mixture of fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme & parsley chopped)

Slice salmon into four thin pieces and marinate with fresh herbs (thyme and rosemary), a teaspoon of garlic and a teaspoon of oil. Place scallops in the middle of salmon and roll into two rosettes and set aside (to hold together, use bamboo skewers).

– In a small sauce pan preheat and add three teaspoon of oil. Sautee onion, garlic and diced

tomatoes and stir while cooking for approximately 5 mins.

– Add vinegar, cream, and ginger, cover and simmer for 10 minutes on low heat. Remove from

heat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add fresh horseradish.

In a non-stick frying pan, heat pan and add remaining oil. Fry bottom side of salmon rosette for about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and finish in the oven at 375 for 7-8 minutes. If no oven available, cover the frying pan with a dome cover and add a teaspoon of butter, a touch of water (to prevent from drying and sticking) simmer for 7 minutes.

Plating: Pour sauce on a warm plate. Place salmon rosette in the middle and serve. ENJOY!