Sometimes I get email invites to events and the universe tells me to make sure I go (even though I have deadlines and lots of house things to take care of). I have never been to the Annual Wild Leek & Maple Syrup Festival at Eigensinn Farm by Chef Stadtlander but when I was invited by Sapsucker Maple Tree Filtered Water to attend this year’s festival, I was instantly intrigued. My friend Roxanne of Bonjour Bliss Blog also joined me, so I knew this was going to be a fun girl’s day out.
This is the perfect Spring event, in my opinion. Chef Stadtlander describes his event best: “Winter is over, Maple sap has run, and the Wild Leek has sprung. Come join us and our chef friends for our annual Maple Syrup and Wild Leek Festival.” I was so in for this!
This was the list of chefs in attendance (can you say All-star line-up?): Hiro Yoshida – Hiro sushi, Steffan Howard – Palais Royale, John Higgins – George Brown, Paul Harber – Ravine, Chris Sanderson – Wilder and Rose, Adam Colquhoun – Oyster Boy, Paul Böhmer – Böhmer, Anthony Walsh – Oliver & Bonacini, Kevin McKenna – South Pond Farms, Michael Hunter – Antler, Leona Nyman – Azzurra, Scotty the Butcher – Grey County Meats, Anthony Rose – Rose & Sons Co., and of course Michael Stadtländer of Eigensinn farm.
This event was a bring your own glass, plates, cutlery and BYOB. I love this idea! Roxanne brought us some fancy looking plastic wine goblets and we shared a bottle of wine. Everyone commented on our chic cups – they were definitely a conversation piece!
I kept checking the forecast before the event and also receiving messages to this effect “Rain or Shine, Dress according to the weather, outdoor shoes recommended!!!” The chances of rain were high but I honestly wasn’t at all worried about it.
Roxanne and I arrived at Eigensinn Farm and parked on the side of the road, as instructed. It was raining and there was a lot of mud happening. As we entered the main driveway of the farm, I immediately noticed and questioned all of the broken shell pieces all over the place. Something that I am used to seeing near beaches, but on a farm? They were great because they helped with our footing in the muddy conditions. We later found out that Adam Colquhoun of Oyster Boy, who has the cutest little cabin that he rents out on the grounds, donates all of his oyster shells to the farm for this very reason!
The trek up to the main festival area was pretty interesting. It was an uphill mud climb where we passed a coop full of cock-a-doodling roosters, lots of oyster shells, and a crazy amount of glass bottles….hundreds of them! I knew immediately that a lot of great times were had at this farm!
Our first stop was Oyster boy’s grilled oysters topped with kimchi and wild leeks as well as a variety served with wild leek pesto. They were amazing – I love oysters and this was a great first stop at the festival. We had a few amazing varieties of pork belly as well; on a bun with grainy mustard and wild leeks as well as on a piece of focaccia, pork belly, almonds, and wild leeks with a crazy good sauce.
Chef Hunter brought some amazing venison that was roasted to perfection and we finished with Chai tea from Whole World Trade, served in vintage tea cups. There were a few desserts to choose from. I went for apple slab cake and I paired it with freshly brewed coffee made by the Merchants of Green Coffee. Watching the coffee being prepared was pretty interesting – especially for a coffee lover like myself. The beans were roasted right over the fire, then they were ground and brewed. I don’t think it gets any fresher than that!
I mentioned that Sapsucker had invited us to this event, so we had the pleasure of enjoying the naturally pure maple tree filtered water with the food. One of the founders, Charlene, greeted us and told us all about her and partner Nancy’s story. Charlene and Nancy are old friends and they had this idea to produce their Sapsucker water and just went for the idea. They purchased the 50 acre Beaver Valley Maple farm (neighbouring Eigensinn Farm) and have been working for the past three years on getting their passion project out into the world. Charlene already had four children by the time they decided to start their business – and this just instantly impressed me. Nothing inspires me more than hearing stories of mothers who don’t make any excuses and hustle hard for what they want. I can’t wait to visit Beaver Valley soon, their Sapsucker headquarters, to see these two amazing mammas in action!
Some things that I love about Sapsucker water is that it is sustainably harvested from mature maple trees. I learned that a maple tree can produce sap from maturity to 100 years of age, or more, provided the forest it lives in is cared for. Sapsucker also has no additives or preservatives and is non-GMO and organic certified. Sapsucker is served as a water alternative at restaurants and has its own unique nutrients, is rich in minerals and antioxidants, and has a hint of sweetness. You can even cook with this nutrient-rich water! I also love that it comes in an environmentally-friendly tetra-pack.
Spending the day with Roxanne was literally the most fun. We spent the whole day laughing about the crazy mud and weather, enjoying great food and meeting so many new great friends. Thank you Charlene of Sapsucker for inviting us (and for giving Roxanne and I a ride in your pick-up back up the muddy trail to Roxanne’s truck!)
We met so many fun new friends. Everyone was having the best time, even though the weather was not great at all. We met the head honcho of Chapman’s Ice Cream Company too – it was really cool to meet him!! My cheeks hurt from laughing so much and I couldn’t get the smell of bonfire out of my clothes or hair for weeks (not that I minded – I actually love this smell). Make sure to mark your calendars for next year’s event (April-ish) because this is an event you don’t want to miss!
*Some photos provided by Ronan Bryson for Sapsucker.
Growing up my father would often do a family barbecue night in the backyard using his charcoal grill. The barbecue would be