Art lovers enjoy the Paul Morin Gallery, and Hannah’s is a popular men’s and women’s clothing store that offers moderately upscale classic and casual clothing. To meet some of the merchants, we headed inside one of the stores: “What’s Cookin’” provides ready-to-go meals, event catering, special savouries and high-quality kitchen wares. Beth, one of the employees, showed us some of the ready-made meals that locals and tourists like to pick up. Owner Jo Fillery opened the store 11 years ago, but she was actually at the Alton Mill, setting up for Cuisine-Art, the food and art festival that I was going to visit this afternoon.
Fresh food is being prepared at What’s Cookin’
Shelley and I continued our walk on the street and passed by Bistro Rivière whose patio looked very inviting. Steens Dairy Bar is one of the last family-owned dairies in the area and invites visitors with healthy breakfasts, lunches, dinners and their own freshly made ice cream. The village organizes all sorts of special events, such as the Annual Quilt Festival, the Annual Erin Rawhide Rodeo, Erin Fest – a special event with a sidewalk sale and concerts, the Annual Erin Studio Tour, the hugely popular Erin Fall Fair, the annual Window Wonderland and Tree Lighting Event and, of course, the Erin Santa Claus Parade. Erin attracts many visitors from far and wide for its shopping, its special events, its country charm and its recreational offerings such as golf, horseback riding, bicycling and hiking on the Bruce Trail.
Around mid-day I said goodbye to Shelley and headed back to the Alton Mill for a special event: “Cuisine-Art” is an innovative festival that celebrates art and fine food. Several stands were already set up in the open-air Annex building, all manned by local merchants and farmers who produce locally grown food. This was a chance to learn more about the innovative food products that are created by producers from the surrounding region.
Jo Fillery and her tasty samples
After having visited her store in Erin, the first person I ran into was Jo Fillery, owner of “What’s Cookin”. She gave me a taste of some of the delicacies she had brought: samples of preserves, various jellies, jams and nut mixes. She also told me about some of the workshops that she runs and showed me a photo of a wine and cheese workshop. Jo is a strong believer in the 100 Mile Diet – a local foods movement that encourages people to consume locally produced food. It tastes better, is healthier and benefits the environment.
Chef Roberto Fracchioni shows off his patatas bravas
I had heard that there were cooking demonstrations going on, so I headed to the Waterfall Courtyard inside the Alton Mill to see if there were any live cooking shows going on. I just caught the tail end of a presentation by Roberto Fracchioni, Executive Chef at the Millcroft Inn. He is a real character and was in his element, entertaining the audience. I had already met Roberto yesterday and taken a tour of his kitchen. It was a pity I had just missed his presentation, but I still managed to snag a small plate of “patatas bravas”, crisp spiced potatoes with Romescu sauce. He was preparing to rush off to another cooking demonstration at 2 pm at the Millcroft Inn.
Jordan Grant, who together with his brother Jeremy, restored the Alton Mill
Then I connected with Jordan Grant, one of the co-owners of the Alton Mill, whose brother Jeremy had given me a tour of this heritage complex yesterday. Jordan introduced me to several artists who rent studios here at the Alton Mill. During our studio tour we met artist Susan Mccrae, whose paintings combine tissue paper with collage elements while her colleague Deborah Trow loves to create abstract paintings with bold colours. Dawn Friesen showed us some of her soap stone carvings and explained that there are different kind of soap stones with totally different properties that originate in places like Brazil and China.
Some of the talented artists at the Alton Mill