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Lions' fare – Filling up on sliders, brews and blues (4 photos)

Fonthill Lions annual event helps entire region

They deliciously slide into your mouth, five distinctively different gourmet delights, battling meat to meat and bun to bun for the top prize carefully grilled by the Top Slider Master.

This culinary attraction and fundraiser, billed as the Sliders, Brews and Blues is only complete after adding a few splashes of beer, and a dash of rock’n roll-soul by the Rhythm Hounds. The third annual Sliderfest, organized by the Fonthill Lions Club in Pelham Saturday had about 100 people milling about piquing their taste buds for the best slider combination.  

Country Corner Market from Welland, which boasts the risqué slogan: “The Little Sausage That Grew,” grilled up many succulent sausage sliders, smothered in a sweet peppery relish. Toffolo Catering, which is housed out of the Meridian Community Centre in Fonthill, added an Italian touch with a breaded chicken parmesan slider, seasoned to perfection. The Righteous Monger from Fonthill offered a farm-raised corn beef brisket that was layered with a mustard seed sauce and greens. A root-beer glazed sirloin topped with ice cream coleslaw on a brioche bun was a sweet offering by The Butcher and Banker Pub from Fonthill. Cracker Jack’s from Thorold also had one of the most creative sliders with an Asian delicacy made up of honey hoisin pulled beef, miso cream sauce and fresh cilantro on a Chinese steamed bun. They served it up with sriracha sauce.

Abbey Solomon, the corporate chef for Cracker Jacks, which is a part of the 43rd North Restaurant Group, said he wanted to create “something different, something out of the box,” adding, “Most people just prepare a beef brisket.”  

Solomon, who is part Japanese, thought the delicacy, which is both “sweet and spicy with a slight bit of acidity” due to the sriracha sauce, would hit the spot for those who crave Asian fare. He said the food was very healthy, and that they would be serving sliders at Cracker Jack’s in Thorold all this week, following the slider festival. Fern Colavecchia, owner of Cracker Jack’s, said he has several catering trucks off-site, and is booked up until the end of summer. This is their second Sliderfest event.

Colavecchia said they tried out a few different recipes and decided on the Asian fare this year.

Observing some curious participants eyeing the description on the slate menu board, and a little hesitant to try the bun, Solomon asked, “Are you open-minded?” Judging by their reaction, they were pleasantly surprised. Currently, when asked about different types of sliders, Solomon said vegan and gluten-free foods are becoming more popular, although none were included in that competition, he noted.  

While there were also no dessert sliders, he said he enjoyed a waffle, ice-cream slider that is being served at the Canadian National Exhibition this year. When asked, what is the secret ingredient to all good sliders? His reply was, “Love.” 

A few hours later, the trophy winner for the competition was announced as the Butcher and Banker Pub from Fonthill with Kenny Fraser as chef. Second place went to the Righteous Monger with Chef Mark Hand, who likes to serve up recipes that pairs well with craft beers. Deciding on the winner was close this year, but the event is intended to be “fun,” and “a people’s choice award,” with no money involved in winning, said Marylou Hilliard, Director of the Fonthill Lions Club and Chair of the Event.  

“It’s like the Masterchef, where there is a blue team and a red team,” and it’s not a professional competition, she noted.  

More importantly, the Sliderfest event is a fundraiser for the Fonthill Lions Club and its many community programs, which includes funding foodbanks, pediatric cancer, vision, hearing, the environment and diabetes worldwide, said Hilliard.

Locally, the money often goes to Pelham Cares, and this year some of the money is being allocated to the Raise The Arches program, to restore the arches at the entrance of Pelham Town Hall. The artistic monolith was a landmark that had deteriorated, and was finally torn down after a windstorm, last year. There is a model of the new arch design at the Meridian Community Centre and people can donate online to the Rotary Club’s project, said Hilliard.