Townships shine spotlight on local food with regional event

Showcasing locally produced food and drink served in local establishments, Taste the Countryside is back for a second year.

The 10-day event takes place in Waterloo Region’s four townships, and features items that give diners a chance to experience the food from the area’s farmers. It looks to establish the local connections from farm to fork.

Participating food establishments must include at least three locally produced items in their Prix Fixe menus. Depending on the location, customers will be offered $15 or $35 menus from which they can choose their meal.

Starting today (September 23), food lovers will have a chance to win prizes as they dine their way through the countryside – a ballot will be entered for each Taste the Countryside dining experience until October 3.

“What we’re adding this year that’s slightly different from last year is we’re making it even more local by requiring participating businesses to incorporate at least three local ingredients in their menu. So that could be wine, spirits, beer; it could be any sort of produce that’s grown or produced locally – just making it that much more local,” said Jenna Morris,  Woolwich’s economic development and tourism officer.

“We have Woolwich, Wellesley, Wilmot and North Dumfries: All four of the rural townships in the region have joined on and it perfectly aligns with our branding, Taste the Countryside, and we’re hoping that folks across the region can come and explore the food in the townships,” said Morris.

With more restaurants joining on this year than last, Morris and her team are excited to try some of the region’s unique foods on the tasting menus, hoping more people will come out to support local.

“We have St. Jacobs Grill in St. Jacobs. We have Rural Roots Brewery in Elmira. We have Murphy’s Law distillery in Elmira. We have Block Three Brewing. We have EcoCafe. We wanted to include all food establishments, focus on not just restaurants but also our cafés or distilleries and make it more inclusive. We have, I would say, about 20 establishments joining us already for this year,” said, Jasmine Nanda, an economic development and tourism intern.

All the menus are featured at the participating restaurants during the 10 days, and all proceeds go directly to that food establishment. Taste the Countryside is an initiative to support locally produced food and provide farmers with connections to nearby restaurants.

“We have such an amazing list of local producers and local suppliers that we really want to encourage the businesses and the food establishments to talk to more, network more and help them out. As much as the local restaurants struggles, so did our producers because the restaurants were closed, and they weren’t necessarily supplying some of their biggest vendors. We want to build up the collaboration between the food establishments and our local producers, as well as encourage residents from the region and even from beyond to come and try out our awesome restaurants,” said Morris.

You can find more information online.

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