Summer in Ontario is a beautiful thing. There is a house down the street from my parent's house that sells sweet corn every summer from their family farm. All they do is set up a table at the end of their driveway with the corn, a simple sign and a tin for the money. And during corn season, it sits there every day unattended. We are a friendly Canadian bunch or perhaps it's that trusting small town mentality. For years, we got our fresh corn this way and for years without incident, they left it outside along with the money simply wanting to share their bounty with the neighbourhood.
Then I would bring the corn inside and my Mom would send me to sit on the back porch and peel the husks. She would then drop the cobs into a huge, stock pot of boiling water and I would wait patiently for it to cook and be placed on the table. With the steam rising and my hands tipping it back and forth to escape the heat, I would drench it in butter and bite down on each row of the bright yellow beads.
Now that I'm living in the city there is a different type of street food transaction: food trucks. Food trucks aren't quite so trusting as a corn stall in rural Ontario, so you have to actually order and pay them directly. I appreciate both for being an alternative to grocery stores or restaurants. I can simply walk down the street and find something interesting, fresh and local to eat. The other day I walked down to Ottawa Streat Gourmet in downtown Ottawa for a mix and match lunch of fresh gourmet proteins and salads with bread. I chose the hard-boiled egg, crispy prosciutto, pickled beans, orzo kale chorizo salad and mixed grain salad. At $11, this is a substantial and healthy lunch choice. And crispy prosciutto! Any salad is made better with bacon. I have never seen such an innovative and refreshing gourmet lunch option from a food truck before.
Photo: Amaize Sweet Corn
Is there anything more true to summer than seasonal vegetables, browsing food markets and exploring the city through sweat and sunglasses? I like to support local when I can, but I am always open to new products and suggestions. It is neat when I get products from all over shipped to my door to review, such as this package of special sweet corn. When the FedEx guy shows up at my house and I have to sign off on a box of corn, I sigh and think, "You know you're a food blogger when..."
Amaize sweet corn is a rare variety of sweet non-GMO white corn. It is grown in limited supply in the United States and has a sweet flavour and crunchy texture. Creators George Crookham and Bruce Hobdey of Crookham have been testing and pinpointing the perfect balance of corn texture and taste for more than 22 years. Their company is the largest and oldest multi-generational family corn breeding company in the United States. In Canada, Amaize sweet corn is available at Loblaws and Park Produce stores or you can order seeds online to grow your own.
When it comes to barbecuing corn, I prefer the foil method. If you don't wrap them in foil then I suggest pre-boiling or microwaving the corn before putting them on the grill. I find cooking the corn straight on the grill doesn't quite cook it enough--unless you like really crunchy corn. My suggestion is a nice pre-cook in foil, then unwrap it and cook directly on the grill for the last few minutes. Those crispy, charred grill marks are still a necessity for anything grilled. You can also keep the corn inside the husks instead of using foil.
The toppings are straight up your choice. How's this for being a serious taste tester? I made two of the corn with olive oil, salt and pepper and the other two with butter and herbs. I preferred the olive oil combination, as the butter with the sweetness of the corn was a little too sweet for me. For American corn at this time of year, I would say this corn had a nice flavour to it that wasn't too overpowering. It didn't have quite the bite of moisture of Ontario corn that drips down your mouth as you eat it and gleams a gorgeous mosaic of white and yellow. I would say it was a pretty "amaize-ing" and substantial cob of corn. You know what they say about everything being bigger in America...
Here's a fun fact according to Wikipedia: Apparently corn is always made up of an even number of rows of kernels because they always grow in pairs. Just like you always need two hands to eat corn or two corn picks. As well as it being my first time grilling corn on the BBQ, I also tried making tofu on the BBQ. Using these tips, I pressed the tofu for about 30 minutes, cut it into slices and then marinated it in BBQ sauce for a few hours. I placed it on the grill and it survived! I had nightmare visions of saucy tofu crumbles getting everywhere. This was a magical, simple way of cooking tofu. Grill marks really make everything taste better; another reason why I love summer cooking.
Sometimes it's nice to let someone else cook in the heat. We had dinner at the newly opened Salt Dining and Lounge in Ottawa's Little Italy neighbourhood. I love this city already. We've only been here a few weeks and I am already overwhelmed with food options, including food trucks. Salt has a sophisticated and relaxed atmosphere that almost makes you feel like you're sitting in a designer furniture warehouse. It's still getting it's bearings, so the vibe wasn't quite the promised lounge bar feel. The menu consists of small plates and large plates presumably for sharing. We started with an exquisite cheese board of local cheeses, crostini, candied nuts, fruit and even a yoghurt dipping sauce. It was enough cheese that the two of us were almost full after the first course.
Disclosure: I received a sample of Amaize Sweet Corn for review purposes. The opinions expressed are completely my own based on my own experiences.