Windsor is a generous city. Whether through donations or volunteering time, The City of Roses likes to show others that it cares. Helping others is almost effortless when it is part of an exciting fundraiser. While many charities decide to try and lure participants with a formal dinner or golf tournament, Family Respite Services has decided to try something a bit more innovative. For the last 8 years, Family Respite has been holding their annual “Walk on Erie”. This event involves having groups of people rotate from place to place on Erie Street in Windsor, while sampling some of each restaurant’s best dishes.

Family Respite’s goal is to enrich the quality of life for families of children with special needs, while seeking the fullest participation of those children in the community around them. They serve children from 0 to 18 years throughout Essex County that may have special physical, behavioural, or developmental needs. There are over 800 children involved in various programs that include in-home workers, staffed homes, Weekend with Friends program, Helping Hands program, and the Our Time program. Money made from fundraisers goes to support these programs.

On June 18, St. Angela Merici Church Hall was the site that started off 2007’s “Walk on Erie” for everyone. Each participant was asked to meet there so four groups could be organized and sent off to their prospective restaurants. The participating venues were all on Erie Street and included WindsorEats members Mancuso’s, Tutto, and others, with each crowd visiting three of these places. The bar was set fairly high right from the start of the event. St. Angela’s set out crispy arancini (fried rice balls), bruschetta, and grilled vegetables for antipasto. Though people may have tried to pace themselves, indulging in this tasty food was just too hard to resist.

Though there were about two hundred people, the restaurants provided an intimate setting for each group. The crowd was lively as they packed into Noi, which was the first restaurant. An earthy “porchetta” was served, which is pork stuffed with figs, walnuts and apple. Creamy mushroom risotto was a lovely accompaniment to this dish. Walking from one resto to another was a great way to stretch and make room for the next few courses. Panko crusted whitefish was on the menu for Nico. They also included a summery feta, cucumber and tomato salad and luscious grilled steak skewers. Though many were feeling full, everyone dug into the traditional fare that was served by the final restaurant of the night. Tutto included grilled zucchini, penne with a rose meat sauce, and homemade meatballs on their menu. Seasonal fruit, pastries and coffee were available for those who weren’t stuffed to the gills already when they returned to the hall. Prizes were given out and participants were able to compare meals and discuss how satisfying the evening had been.

On August 25 there will be a scavenger hunt/car rally called Robert’s Ride to support Family Respite. This is just another creative way to get the community involved because, as executive director Cathy Shanahan states, “This is a community effort”.

Danielle Piche

Danielle’s earliest memories include going to the Windsor Market and buying cheese curds and giant chocolate chip cookies with her family. Her interest in food writing was sparked after taking a course with Carol Ferguson at George Brown College in Toronto. She expresses her interest in all things culinary by keeping up her blog “Maple Syrup & Poutine” and regularly participating in a cooking club with friends.