The Stop puts on a monthly dinner, called Food For Change, held under the glass of their greenhouse at the Wychwood Barns. Recently relaunched to include a theme for each meal, I attended last night’s “Harvest! Focus on world crops.” Surrounded by the smell of earth and herb, I spent a lovely evening chatting with fellow diners as the rain on the roof drummed overhead.

After wanting to attend for many a moon, Candy was finally able to make October’s Food For Change. So – twist my rubber arm – I took her up on the offer when she sent a note out to see who was interested in joining her. Now, I was familiar with The Stop, having dined in support of their cause over the years and attended their deliciously fun Night Market back in June, but I’d never actually been to their bricks & mortar location.

It began to spit as I arrived at Wychwood Barns. Making a dash to the entrace – with a couple of stops for photos, of course – I shook the rain off my jacket and spotted Candy. We quickly secured our glasses of wine and munched on some freshly fried taro chips while catching up. Appetizers cirulated: a duck pastrami sandwich with cheese and house-made ketchup and a chicken rillette crostini. It wasn’t long before we made our way to the greenhouse to be seated and begin dinner.

Of course, our natural instinct in seat selection was to find the spots with the most optimal lighting. And so it ended up that to my left was Jens, owner of Frogpond Farms, and to my right, Jean, a man whom I wished to have chatted with more simply because he tried to make baba ghanoush three times. And then there was John, just so we could have yet another person to add the phonetic match-up. Everyone else’s names have been forgotten. Across the way was the Flying Monkeys rep where I gave him a hard time about how, as a non-IPA lover, I enjoyed the Boneshaker. And yet not the Smashbomb. Even funnier was when his companion agreed with me.

Woven throughout our discourse, were the dishes of the night. We started with the warm smoked trout with mixed Asian greens from Southern Horizons Farm, charred green onions, pickled shitake mushrooms, rye crumbs, and miso cream. A nice starter; light and tasty with a good crunch from the rye. The trout was a lovely pink and silky.

Roasted beans with a poached egg and Thunder Oak gouda. Hard to go wrong with this combination.

Whole roasted pork leg with tomatillo salsa, pickled red onions, and crema fresca. The pork was tasty when eaten with the salsa. And on the right, marinated and roasted eggplant with red indian carrots, fresh cheese, and mustard emulsion. The cheese was soft and creamy, mellowing and mingling the flavours.

Crispy banana bread with peanut butter ice cream and coconut Anglais. Hearty with crunchy candied sugar nuggets. Wanted more ice cream though!

There’s clearly a drive and a message with these dinners, but it’s not the focus. I dined and imbibed with fellow food enthusiasts of all levels – a really nice and relaxed evening. If you’re the kind of person who likes to meet new people and talk about food, consider attending one of these dinners. The next meal on November 15th is focused on oceans with Stratus wines.