Category Archives: Events
Drift Food Truck on Eat St.
Did you miss Drift Food Truck’s appearance on hit Food Network Show Eat St.? Don’t fret, you can watch it over and over again with this handy dandy link at the bottom of the page!
Not surprisingly, Nevin and Kara came off like rock stars, and their food was the star of the show. Check them out Tuesdays through Fridays at 107 st and Jasper ave, and at various events around Edmonton.
Eat St. in Edmonton- Molly’s Eats episode
Last summer, hit Food Network show Eat St. was in town filming 3 of our local food trucks. The first of those episodes aired last Monday, and featured Molly’s Eats and the trucks owner, Susan Chin.
If you didn’t catch the episode the first time around, I’ve included the link to that part of the show below. I was lucky enough to get an invite to the taping, so you’re not going to be able to avoid getting a healthy dose of me in the episode. Don’t worry though… my wife Robyn (the “It’s a monster!” girl) is also in it to keep me in line. Mostly.
Warning: you have to wade through a few commercials before you get to the goods. Enjoy!
Eat Street- Molly’s Eats Video
Swine and Dine at Bistro Saisons
The nice thing about a dining event centred around Alberta Pork, is that, well, it’s a dining event centred around Alberta Pork! Duh.
Given that this event, dubbed Swine and Dine, was being held in my neighbourhood at the brand spanking new restaurant Bistro Saisons, it was a prefect time to check it out.
According to our host, Sharman Hnatiuk, Passion for Pork would like to make Swine and Dine a monthly event, held at a different restaurant each month. Based on what we were treated to for a very reasonable $50 price tag, you’d do well to keep your eyes open for the next event and book it early.
From start to finish, I though the staff did a fantastic job of not only showcasing the delicious Alberta Pork, but themselves also. If this was your first experience at Bistro Saisons, you’d certainly be back to try more. It made me even more sad that we had to cancel our first planned visit here with our friends Twyla and Steve, but lucky for you Twyla is herself a blogger and restaurant reviewer for CBC radio, so you can read all about her experience at Bistro Saisons here.
On the table to start, sat a basket of french bread, with whipped butter. The table chatter immediately turned to gushing over this butter. Salty, garlicy, and so delicious. It’s no wonder everyone liked it so much, as it was laced with truffle and one of my favourite new ingredients, black garlic. Even as we were elbows deep in entrees, more bread and butter was requested at both ends of our table.
Course 1 of the 3 course dinner was kind of a 2 for 1 starter. Heritage greens salad, with lardons, duck eggs, and tomatoes, with an apple- dijon vinaigrette. This was quickly followed by a white bean cassoulet, with braised pork shoulder and crispy pork belly. The salad added a nice acidic contrast to the rich pork and beans, but the greens weren’t exactly bite sized. Hardly worth complaining about, but what the heck… they didn’t give me anything else to nitpick. The Pork Cassoulet was very well done, with the rich fattiness of the Pork seeping into the beans. I’d order that on the regular menu if it were there.
Course 2 consisted of Pork Loin, wrapped in Bacon, topped with a cognac apricot sauce. That was paired with Black Lentils, with caramelized apples and onions, and Honey Lavender Roasted Vegetables. The thing that struck me when this course hit the table, is that the chef actually thought about the meal as a whole, and what will work together. Heavier proteins such as pork really need to be balanced with some acidity to cut the richness of the meal, and the chef did a great job of that. I wish more Edmonton chefs would take the cue, as it seems like many just think that making great food just means adding more fat.
The pork was moist, tasty, and had a great crust on the outside, but for me the star of the show was the Cognac Apricot Sauce. Again, the acidity was there to cut the richness, and it worked perfectly. I would have eaten that sauce with a spoon. The vegetables were roasted until soft, and had just a touch of sweetness from the honey. The black lentils weren’t something I’d had before, but I really enjoyed them. Clearly, I wasn’t the only one, since our large family style bowl (the whole meal was served family style) was empty when I went looking for seconds. I think it was the texture most of all for me that sent me looking for more. With a lot of other soft-textured components on the table, the firmness of the lentils was a welcome contrast.
At this point, I was already full, but of course the women at the table were a different kind of full. You know, the kind of full that means they’re full enough of dinner, now bring me a 1 pound chunk of decadent chocolate cake please.
So they did.
Seriously, this thing was like the Stonehenge of Chocolate Cake. Usually I’m not a fan of dense chocolate cake, and even less a fan of adding bacon to desserts in general, but this one had such a delicious, crunchy outer coating and mild bacon flavour that I found it quite enjoyable. It was a great, albeit heavy, end to a pretty fantastic meal.
The next Swine and Dine hasn’t been announced yet, but follow along on twitter here, or Sharman’s account here, and you’ll be in the know.
Sorrentinos Annual Garlic Festival
Sorrentinos 22nd Annual Garlic Festival begins April 8th and runs through the 11th. The fundraiser for Sorrentinos Compassion House combines a special garlic themed menu at Sorrentinos restaurants (and Bistecca), with garlic themed events. The flagship event is the Garlic Stomp, which is a night of food, dancing, and fundraising for Compassion House. Check out http://www.sorrentinos.com for tickets.
One of the events was held last week – a garlic cook-off – where home cooks were invited to submit their best garlic-themed recipes. Out of all the submissions, 5 finalists were chosen to prepare their dish for a panel of judges for a chance to win a trip to Gilroy, California to their huge garlic festival. Pretty sweet prize.
Oddly enough, the good folks at Sorrentinos invited me to be one of the judges of the 5 finalists in the garlic cook-off and, shockingly, I jumped at the chance.
The event was being featured on Global Televisions Morning news, so Lorraine Mansbridge was busy interviewing contestants and judges. No pressure, people… it’s just a T.V. camera in your face watching your every move (and bite).
The panel of judges weren’t any less intimidating than the cameras. Edmonton Journal columnists Liane Faulder and Nick Lees, Sorrentinos executive chef Sonny Sung, Mary Bailey from Tomato Food and Drink and, somehow, yours truly.
The dishes included a Garlicy Butternut Squash soup by Jodie Bakker, Garlic Infused Chicken Balls by Laura Connor, A Roasted Garlic Goat’s Cheese & Rosemary Tart from Heidi Noble, and a Roasted Pork Belly with Roasted Garlic Polenta from Sharman Hnatiuk. All those dishes has some high points, but they couldn’t defeat Dino Esposito’s Garlic Eggplant Ravioli, with 3 different sauces. The Garlic Prosecco Cream, Garlic Pesto, and Marinara sauces were a nod to the white, green and red in the Italian flag. Enjoy Gilroy, Dino.
Here’s a few iPhone pictures of the event and food I snapped in between mouthfuls.
An afternoon with Top Chef Masters Champion Chris Cosentino
Nait recently offered a media availability with this years Chef in Residence, recent Top Chef Masters Champion Chris Cosentino. Nait generously included food bloggers in it’s description of media, so I instantly texted my friend Maki, whose own write-up of the event you can find here, and made plans to attend.
The day started with about an hour of observing Chef Cosentino teaching a very lucky class of Nait’s Culinary Arts students. What a fantastic opportunity for these kids to spend a few days learning from one of the best in the business!
The instruction was fast paced, and to the point. I overheard quite a few instances where Cosentino would stop a student in the middle of the task, and ask if they understood why they were doing what they were doing. If they seemed unsure, they were bluntly yet respectfully given instruction, and asked to continue. Although Cosentino mentioned to us later on that he doesn’t really teach students back home, I couldn’t help but think that his style of instruction and strong personality are very well suited to the classroom. Oh well, the students loss is a diner’s gain, I guess.
Some of the students were clearly a little intimidated working so closely with the well known celebrity chef, but they all seemed very eager to soak up every last drop of knowledge they could before Cosentino’s time at NAIT was through.
Of course fans will already know that chef Cosentino is very well known for his affinity for cooking offal. Although it was finished when we came in, I could overhear that one of the dishes they prepared that day was beef heart tartare. The chef stressed on more than one occasion how important it is to use the things that others waste. Cosentino considers it a chefs responsibility to do this, and you have to admire his conviction and respect for the animal that is obviously a foundation of his cooking style.
After class, there was a brief opportunity to ask a few questions. I didn’t want to ask the obligatory questions about the 2 feet of snow we got during his stay, or about T.V. shows. Instead, I focused on food. Specifically, where he ate while he was in good ol’ Edmonton.
He mentioned 3 spots that left an impression in particular.
First off he mentioned Tres Carnales. He commented that he was really impressed with their legit, authentic Mexican street food. High praise, considering the vast selection of quality Mexican food on his doorstep at home in San Francisco.
Secondly, highly acclaimed Corso 32 elicited some high praise from the celebrated chef. Apparently the crew at Corso 32 stuffed their guest full of darn near everything on the menu!
The other restaurant to garner some accolades was Three Boars. No surprise there, given their well publicized use of off cuts.
I was intrigued about where he got his dining suggestions, since those would have been the same 3 spots I would have recommended for him, personally. Does a world famous celebrity chef sit at home on his couch the night before a trip, munching cheetos and surfing Urbanspoon reviews? Or does he just take the advice of locals in the know when he arrives?
It turns out that there is indeed a pattern to how he selects the spots to try out when in a new city. He always seeks out a good Italian restaurant for starters. His own food is heavily Italian influenced, and so he likes to keep abreast of what other Italian restaurants are doing. Hence his dinner at Corso 32. He also likes to seek out restaurants that are using offal, so that explains his appearance at Three Boars. And as it happens, Tres Carnales was just around the corner from the hotel. Lucked out on that one!
My final question revolved around what he sees as the next big food destination. I suggested that to me, Philadelphia is a very underrated food destination. A sly grin swept across Cosentino’s face as he said that Philly has been cranking out fantastic food for a long time, but the difference is that they don’t tell anybody. He says that his prediction is an explosion of southern cuisine, and mentioned particularly relatively unknown dining destinations Nashville and Charleston. I can’t wait to find out if he’s right about that.
Keep scrolling to check out a few more pictures of the day.
Chris Cosentino is Chef/ Owner of San Francisco restaurant Incanto, and Salted Meat Merchant Boccalone.
Downtown Dining Week
The culinary world seems full to the brim nowadays with $75, &100, and even $125 per person special events or dinners. That’s why I like events like Downtown Dining Week 2013, which begins on Friday, March 15 and runs for 10 days, ending on the 24th. 30 downtown restaurants are enticing you to give them a try by offering special 2 course lunches for $15.00, and 3 course dinners at $25, or $50. Great deal.
Last night I had the opportunity to go to the Launch Party at the Art Gallery of Alberta, where of course there was plenty of samples to be had from a few of the participating restaurants. There were some interesting dishes to try, but I had 2 definite favourites.
My favourite of the night was from Zinc, the gallery’s own restuarant, who was offering Pan Seared Pork Medallion, served atop Yam Macaire, with a cinnamon maple demi glace and shaved black truffle. If you like sweet and savory together, and I do, you’ll love this. This dish is part of the 3 course dinner they’re offering for $50.
My second favourite was the Corn Fritters, with bacon butter and peach jam. On the $50, 3 course special at Hundred Bar and Kitchen, this will be served as an accompaniment with chicken. Crispy and salty, we all went back to grab another before we left. So good.
If you want to see some pictures from the event check out a couple friends of mine, Maki and Andrea, who showed me up by bringing their fancy cameras….
But that’s fine by me; they may have gotten more pictures, but I drank more champagne.
Also, you can check out all the menus at the Downtown Business Associations website, here.
The Culinary Arts Cookoff
This coming Saturday, March 16th, marks the return of The Culinary Arts Cookoff to benefit Mount Royal School’s Arts Core Programming.
Last year’s inaugural event, which raised over $14,000, featured local restaurants and chefs squaring off in an all out battle for Mac & Cheese supremacy! The Hardware Grill scored the knockout blow with a super creamy Lobster Mac and Cheese, although my personal favourite was the homestyle version from The Marc.
This year, 8 local restaurants will compete to win your love with a different homey classic….. Sliders!
The competition promises to be fierce, especially when you consider the lineup of competitors. Perennial Best Restaurant in Edmonton nominee The Marc is a returning competitor, but will face stiff competition from a host of talent including Edmonton’s Alley Burger purveyor Chef Andrew Cowan from Hundred Bar and Kitchen, The Manor Casual Bistro– whose High Street Social Club events are hugely popular, 124st. newcomer and Best New Restaurant winner The Makk, and more!
Prices are very family friendly at $2/ slider, and there is plenty of family oriented fun planned. The judging will be done by a panel of experts, but the general public gets to vote for their favourite too. Plus, if you’re there early you can have the chance to win the coveted 4th spot at the judges table.
It was a great time last year, and I expect this year to be no different. And hey, with Breakfast Television’s Ryan Jespersen hosting, it’s sure to be fun. See you all there!
Mount Royal School
11313 55 st.
Stress and Stage-fright: A Recipe for Success
For weeks I’ve been stressing about competing in the Food Bloggers Cook-off as part of A Taste of Edmonton.
I had agreed to compete against 2 other fierce competitors, Teresa, and Michelle, in a timed competition on-stage in front of an audience under instructions to create our best “food truck entree”.
I’ve never cooked for anyone but friends and family in my own kitchen, and I’m terrified of public speaking! What the heck was I thinking?
Nerves be damned, I put in some hours of planning and testing and here’s what I came up with.
Not Your Mama’s Meatloaf and Mash
This is my spin on the classic meatloaf and mashed potatoes. My mini- meatloafs are made with home ground beef and italian sausage, studded with gorgonzola cheese. and wrapped in bacon.
How could that not be delicious?
I put my spin on the classic mashed potatoes by mixing them with yams, butter, and cream cheese to create a super creamy mash that has way more flavour than the old style version. I topped them with some crispy fried onions and a few pea shoots.
1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork
2 tsp italian seasoning (grind 1/2 tsp each of fennel seed, basil, salt, and pepper)
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup of crumbled gorgonzola (or more)
8 slices of bacon- cut in half
Mix ingredients (except bacon) and form into mini-loaves using an ice cream scoop to portion (makes approx. 15 loaves).
Wrap each mini-loaf with a piece of bacon.
Pan fry each loaf on medium heat to crisp the bacon (on all 4 sides) and load onto a sheet pan.
Finish in the oven at 350 degrees. 15-20 min.
6 medium potatoes
1/2 a medium yam
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup cream cheese
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
half and half cream
Boil potatoes and yams until fork tender.
Mash with remaining ingredients and add cream to reach your desired consistency.
Re-season to taste.
1/4 red onion
Slice red onions and lightly coat with flour.
Deep fry until crispy (approx. 5 minutes).
Season with salt before serving.
Assemble mashed potatoes on serving plate and lay mini- meatloaves on the side.
Top the potatoes with crispy onions and a few pea shoots.
The 3 judges from the competition, Chef Shane Chartrand of Murietta’s, Chef Lindsay Porter of 4th and Vine, and Chef Dave Omar of Zinc were impressed enough with each of our dishes that they each pledged to put one of our dishes on their appetizer menu at their restaurants. Stay tuned for that!
After tasting each dish and a few minutes of deliberation the judges came to a decision. There was a tie for second between Teresa’s Feisty Chicken bowl and Michelle’s Chicken Biryani, and my dish edged them out for the win.
The final result was as close as can be, with only 1 point separating us. I have to say, Teresa and Michelle produced some beautiful looking and tasting dishes, and I feel a bit fortunate to have won.
But I’ll take it!