OFRE President’s Message 2015

My wife talks a lot about the journey of life, enjoying the path, and focusing less on the destination.  The path can lead to something new and unexpected if you don’t purely focus on the destination, it can enrich the destination with experiences along the way.  This is something I have been struggling to learn over the years, because without a destination or goal, then there is no logic to a path and you can wandering aimlessly.  I do however believe that the joy of cooking is about the process not just the end product, even though the end goal is usually a great meal.  Discovering the flavours, textures, and their combinations  through experimentation create experiences that enrich the soul, while if we all just follow a recipe we can miss the extraordinary.  A meal I think is always better if there is a story attached.  With the explosion of Edmonton restaurants offering ‘farm to table’ dinners, it’s getting easier to know where ingredients come from and that local doesn’t just taste better because of the freshness, but because of the story.  It allows people to have an experience beyond taste and connect directly with the food.

A question I ask a lot of people now is: do you know where your food comes from?  For the past 5 years I have learned more about where my food has come from and the problems with the industrial agricultural system.  One of the things I have learned is that Apples are the top of the dirty dozen list, which means that there is more pesticides sprayed on apples than any other food.  This makes it even more important that if you are going to be buying organic, the first one that should be purchased is apples.  However, having saying that, why should you have to purchase apples where there is such an abundance right here in the city.  Some of the best tasting apples grown right here.  It may not be a Fuji, a Pink Lady, or a Gala, but have you ever had a Goodland?  I have been picking apples in Edmonton for 5 years and each year I am impressed with the quality…. but I may be biased because picking fruit gives me a different appreciation of the fruit.  I savor the tart apples, the dolgo crab, and cherish the eating apples.  This is not about going on a trip to the grocery store, this is about the adventure and the journey of picking the fruit right off the tree!  I think it tastes better.

It turns out that tart apples and crab apples are essential to making the perfect cider blend. Four years ago I created what I believe was the perfect cider blend.  A combination of sweet, to tart apples.  It was complex with distinct notes, and not muddled with too many varieties.  I may never be able to recreate that exact flavour combination, but each year I try, but am not worried if I ever recreate it, because it’s not all about the taste, it’s the process that I take each year to create the cider. Every year it tastes unique and is memorable to me as that year’s blend.

Through OFRE, I have found amazing friends, and learned the power of giving, and that sometimes the journey is better than the destination.  This year I hope that you will all slow down and enjoy the fruits of your labour this year.  Come and join OFRE, come for the journey, stay for the cider.

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