On Friday August 28th, we took a trip out to Niagara on the Lake to take advantage of a beautiful summer day while enjoying gourmet street food by Chef Adam Hynam-Smith, hosted by everyone’s favourite Suresh Doss, food truck event organizer extraordinaire.
We learned about how local canola oil farmers contribute to the tasty food we may take for granted as city dwellers.
I joined a group of media for the canola oil street food tour including 3rd generation farmer Will Bergmann with a farm near Winnipeg, Manitoba. On our private coach ride to NOTL, he showed us a great video highlight reel he made (recorded with a drone!) of farm life from season to season.
It’s interesting that Canada is the largest exporter of canola oil. In fact, the name “canola oil” is derived from the phrase “Canadian oil”. Interesting!
Then Suresh Doss (of Spotlight City events and contributor to Post City) discussed how he’s seen Niagara on the Lake grow from a wine tour region to also maturing as a food region. Being one of the de facto organizers of food trucks in Toronto, Hamilton and more, he had big praise to give to Adam Hynam-Smith of El Gastronomo Vagabundo. Suresh tells us that Adam is one of the few food truck chefs who have unwavered from his original concept of big, bold flavours – for example, customers may find his food too spicy but that doesn’t deter him from continuing to deliver in the spicy department. That’s ok with me as I am a fan of spicy food.
To finish out our bus ride there, we played some ice breaker games where we ended up learning fun and interesting things about each person there. Then before we knew it we were in Niagara-on-the-Lake for the gorgeous Oast House Brewery to a be greeted with a well laid-out outdoor picnic.
Then Adam Hynam-Smith greeted us and introduced the tasty foods we were about to eat.
Each item in the 6 course menu was cooked with canola oil including a fresh peach and melon gazpacho paired with a seasonal Summer Peach from Oast House Brewers. The whole line-up of items:
- Peach and Melon Gazpacho
- Korean BBQ Chicken Wings
- Confit Pepper and Peach Salad
- Cod Taco with Smoked Pineapple Hot Sauce
- 2-Bean Tostada with Guacamole
- Pickled Prawn and Lychee
In the Peach and Melon Gazpacho, the freshness of the fruits (especially the Konnichiwa peach) paired with the peach really came through in the
Those bold flavours that Suresh talked about came in a variety of amazing ways from Chef Adam Hynam-Smith including chicken wings with generous amounts of Korean bbq sauce cooked with canola oil.
And the fish tacos are where it all began for El Gastronomo Vagabundo, says, Suresh. In fact, he’s seen it copied by other Toronto food vendors (not naming any names). This original was definitely a highlight.
One surprising hit was the pickled prawn and lychee. Adam Hynam-Smith says he loves lychee and hey, so do I. It goes great with many foods including pickled prawn. Imagine seeing that refreshing choice on a food truck menu next to your hot dog stand!
Then we went inside for a tour of the bustling Oast House Brewery and as well as the event space upstairs.
Back to the dining area, inside Oast House Brewers, Adam gave us a live demonstration on how to make peach confit.
After the demonstration, everyone got a take-home jar of Canola Oil Peach Confit.
Then it was back outside to the picnic table for hands on workshop of how the grade of canola seeds are tested. This involves pressing canola seeds aka “Canola Crush” using a simple plastic tray that perfectly contains a canola seed in each hole. Then we use masking tape on the other side to get the seeds out, all nice and evenly spaced. Then comes the most fun part: using a tiny roller to crush the seeds. This allows us to test a sample of canola seeds for their canola oil yield. Neat!
Then as another bonus, Adam Hynam-Smith signed his cookbook for us. Thanks, Adam!
Then with our bellies still full, Suresh we insisted we make a quick stop at The Pie Plate, a cozy family operated pie shop with fresh seasonal ingredients like peach in their peach pecan pie.
Next we made it to Ravine Vineyard, a relatively new and beautiful, scenic destination with a bustling restaurant and open patio equipped with an outdoor pizza oven.
It is impressive that despite the winery’s young age, they won a Lieutenant Governor’s Award in 2014.
Overall it was a thoroughly amazing way to spend a sunny day learning about canola oil while having a direct connection with the Canadian farmers who grow it while enjoying tasty food, wine, weather with friendly people at the ever-picturesque Niagara-On-The-Lake.
What’s great about this Canadian export is that it is versatile, has a boiling point as high as 242 C or 468 F, so you can use it on the barbecue and it can take the heat.
Canola oil boasts being a good source of vitamins E and K and is packed with omega 3 fats. And omega 3 fats are an anti-inflammatory that can help protect against heart attacks and strokes. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given it a qualified health claim:
“Limited and not conclusive scientific evidence suggests that eating about 1 ½ tablespoons (19 grams) of canola oil daily may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease due to the unsaturated fat content in canola oil. To achieve this possible benefit, canola oil is to replace a similar amount of saturated fat and not increase the total number of calories you eat in a day. One serving of this product contains [x] grams of canola oil.” [via fda.gov]
Not only does it have health benefits but it also tastes great with a neutral and light flavour.
There are 43,000 family farmers that grow canola oil on the Canadian Prairies including for export to places like Japan.
CanolaEatWell.com is a joint partnership between Alberta Canola and Manitoba Canola Growers.
Photos by Nick Lee