Last night we attended an event for local food and foodies put on by Nancy Dow, the blogger behind the Deliciously Bitchy moniker. Her low-barrier, no fuss attitude toward food and frivolity is positively one we can get behind.
This “Deliciously Bitchy Night In” was the third time Nancy has organized such an event, a casual get-together that attracts food lovers and local businesses alike. Nancy’s ask to the community was simple: Bring a food dish from a local restaurant or vendor that can be shared with others. It ought not be fussy or expensive; appetizers could be quartered, desserts could be tiny, entrées could be portioned out. Duplicate vendors (and too many desserts) were discouraged.
The event, held at the Mash Paddle Brewery in Brantford, quickly reached capacity. With dishes from dozens of local restaurants and a glimpse inside the local brewery, this was expected – where else could you find such an appetizing, coordinated sampling? Also, many businesses and individuals had donated gifts and services for a prize draw, a feel-good fundraising initiative that raised money for The Brantford Rotary Club and Ethan’s Million Dimes initiative to support juvenile arthritis research.
Last fall we featured Mash Paddle beer at our AREA91 Paris Lectures event, but our keg was delivered so this was our first in-person visit to the brewery. It was exciting to see its inner workings and to hear Teddy share some of its history. The building is a repurposed rope factory (we love to see old buildings reused), but they are running out of space so are adding a second level to accommodate production. Most of their current customers are local, which makes it an attractive hidden gem when hosting out-of-town visitors. In a classic story of risk and entrepreneurship, Teddy shared that their very first batch of beer brewed in the space was a disaster; it is now buried behind the walls. During renovations they found and removed old Playboy magazines from the 1940s stuffed behind the bricks, so Teddy was pleased to give something back to the building.
Mash Paddle has also initiated a strong tradition of design, working with Hamilton design firm Chargefield to create film-like posters for each of their new beer creations. We appreciate the tie between great packaging + stellar illustration and we look forward to digging deeper into Hamilton’s design community for our own inspiration.
This was our first time meeting Nancy in person, though we have been following her blog and social media activity for awhile now. Her approach toward food blogging is refreshingly simple: she shares the food she enjoys. She takes a picture of everything she eats as she’s eating. Nothing is staged, nothing is stylized. She considers it wayfinding for other foodies rather than a lifestyle brand. Although we enjoy beauty and finesse in our own designs and photography, we very much appreciate realism and honesty. In fact without great substance, what’s the point in great style? Digging underneath the layers is where we often have the most fun.
The event did a fantastic job of highlighting the diversity of people improving the food and drinks scene around here. It also demonstrated some holes. For example, one guest had to go all the way to India Village in Ancaster to bring great Indian food. How we miss the curries from our days in London, UK! It was also interesting to see Paris restaurants and vendors well-represented (many from the Wincey Mills), with food from the Raw Carrot, Sugar & Spice Bakery, Jigs & Reels and Carl’s Choice Meats.
At the event we met several other local business leaders working in a similar spirit of collaboration. Avery Kloss, our friend and owner of Shop Brantford, spoke to the crowd about the need to support local businesses. She shared recent news of Toronto councillor Mike Layton’s plans to investigate how regulations on large corporations could preserve the character of varied, small businesses downtown. We also spoke to Teas & Toast about what it takes to keep a small business going, that familiar story of labour, love, balance and perseverance.
Thanks so much to Deliciously Bitchy and to everyone who brought dishes to share for letting us capture a great moment in our local food scene.
Help us develop new content
In the spirit of community, we would love to collaborate further with other bloggers and businesses to develop subject-specific content for Jane & Jury. Our own time for blogging is limited these days, but we know there are others out there doing a great job at rustling up community, planning events like Nancy’s, and otherwise encouraging people to get out and try new things. We hope we can lend a louder voice to those initiatives. If you would like to work with us on developing a local “Top Ten” list, perhaps in your area of expertise, let us know!