Monday, March 5, 2012
This year they changed the venue from Winchester to the new Municipal Complex in Kemptville, Ontario. I had heard the event had outgrown the old location, but I'm not entirely sure the new one was any bigger. There were nice looking round tables throughout the room, instead of the long ones placed end to end, but this and the newly added musical entertainment made talking a lot more difficult.
What happens at the Soupfest is that many of area restaurants set up a table to offer samples of their soup. There was a wide range of flavours and no two soups even slightly alike. We get an ample taste of them all, in little bowls that reminded me of Dixie Cups. When we are finished the taste test we vote on the ones we liked the best. There are celebrity judges present too, and they do their own tasting and voting. This year there were 5 judges including Chef Stephen Haner, an instructor at the University of Guelph, Wayne Cavanaugh, the token media guy from Jack FM Radio, and the ever popular Chef Michael Dunn, who used to be the chef to Queen Elizabeth.
All in all, there were 16 restaurants represented, so 16 different flavour sensations. Not all of them were something I'd care to try again. One of those was the over all winner. It was a Thai soup, so I guess I'm not into Thai flavours, or perhaps my palette is just not sophisticated enough to appreciate something that got both the People's Choice Award and the Judges Best Soup Award. I'm not the only one that couldn't understand how that one became a winner though, so it's good to know I'm not alone with this opinion. An offering of Stinging Nettle soup was given in a much smaller container, which made it all much more scary. Having encountered stinging nettles in the wild, I couldn't get myself to taste that one.
I really liked a rich and creamy offering that I thought was a celery soup. It turned out to be called Pepper Pot soup, for some reason. That came from the Bridgeview Restaurant in Prescott. Another one that I was almost afraid to taste was a Roasted Red Pepper soup from the McIntosh Country Inn in Morrisburg. They added a bit of pesto to the top to make it look good. I was surprised to discover I loved the soup, but didn't like the pesto and had to scoop it off. I've got a jar of pesto in my cupboard that I've been wondering what to do with. Now I know. I'll give it away. Then there was the Apple Cheddar soup from the Yellow Canoe in Merrickville. Oh, hey, I liked that almost as much as the Curried Sweet Potato one they entered two years ago! I'm thinking that's definitely the place to go for a good soup.
A balloon man was on hand to make some nice creations for the children, but since it was mainly an adult gathering, he happily made things for the adults too. He was a big hit with everyone young at heart. Another new feature this year was the dessert auction. Even if you didn't bid on one of those, you could buy a slice of something for just $2. That's a great way to finish off a meal of assorted soups. I don't think I'll ever tire of going to this event. It's just a great adventure.