Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Bon Appetit

Wow! I can't believe, being the food lover that I am, that this is my first year attending Bon Appetit. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, well then you'd better read-on, and then quickly mark a reminder in your calendar for next year, as this event sells out super fast – and for good reason.

It was my dream night – beer, wine, lots of yummy finger foods and great company. Add the fact that my participation in this food fest was supporting the operational needs of local charities in our beautiful Nation's Capital, and well, there's nothing else that tops it. Many of our top chefs and wineries came together and put on a magnificent feast for the eyes, palate and tummy. You would think that producing hundreds, if not thousands of bite-sized goodies would take away from the quality, but these guys seriously put their heart and soul into every single magical creation they offered. And it didn't go unnoticed. The Urban Element, Scone Witch and Red Apron, Beau's Brewery, HogsBack and Mill Street, Canvas Restaurant and so many more, over 100! It was insane. The sad part is, I didn't even make it to half of them. But what I did get was worth it. Sinful lobster poutine from Petit Bill's, comforting and spicy lobster chili with cumin and crème fraîche from Lago, and Bryson Farms organic potato scallion crisps with Kerr Farms Ancho Beef Brisket – OH MY GOD. And believe it or not, that's just the beginning.

This event is the perfect showcase for something being done right. I feared I'd be spending my evening in a lengthy line-up, only to get to the counter to be told they had none left. That did not happen. And although there was some waiting, it didn't last long at all. In fact, it was just long enough to get a few sips of wine in before indulging in the next bite. Perfection. They even had the waste under control, tons of volunteers ensuring that every biodegradable plate, reusable wine glass and plastic fork was properly disposed of. And I must make an additional mention of these perfect plates, as they held your wine glass beautifully, allowing your other hand to roam free and reach for as much food as possible. Yes, I may have pigged out just a little, but have a look at these delicious morsels and you'll understand why.

First a drink. Joseph's Estate Wines Riesling from Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Thai Salmon Sausages – Denis' Gourmet Sausages.

Smoked salmon with creamy whipped dill and capers from the Pelican Fishery and Grill.

Another Riesling, this time from Strewn in the Niagara Peninsula.

Lemon tart cupcakes.

One of my favourites, smoked scallops from the Wakefield Mill.

Mmmmm mushroom cups from a Culinary Conspiracy. They also served an amazing paté.

Another favourite, panfried pork and shitake dumplings with ginger and coriander served with a spicy red pepper chili glaze on Napa chiffonade and spring onion from Les Fougères.

Ok, I'm at the point where I'm going to say everything was my favourite. Lobster salad with pineapple and cilantro from Savana Café.

The lovely folks at the Village Café offered some sweet potato, apple and smoked paprika soup, espresso bourbon pulled pork on savory foccacia with garlic aioli and crab cakes with peach-chili jam. Yes, I had all three.

Trumpour's Mill rosé from Prince Edward County.

Lighthall Tomme cheese from Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Co.

Rosehall Run Chardonnay was perfect with the cheese.

This delightful little bite almost got turned down because I was about ready to explode at this point. But seeing my husband's reaction after eating his, I smiled at the gentleman from the Mixing Bowl and snatched one. It was worth it – a light spring asparagus, leek and ricotta cheese soufflé with oven dried tomato and chive.

Ok, one more stop, the Candy Store. For some lemony chocolate goodness.

I'm still full 24 hours later. What a fantastic evening. The Aberdeen Pavillion with it's perfectly open space and beautiful natural light just screems “good times”. I will definitely be back next year! Tickets are $75 each and worth every penny.


Carolyn said...

A delightful read and I'm now super hungry!!! I will be sure to forward this on to our Participants. Thank you Rachelle!

Margaux said...

I was there working at the Red Apron - did you try our grilled cheese sandwiches? I got to walk around a bit later and was totally overwhelmed, but what a food paradise, eh?

Rachelle said...

It was totally a food paradise!! I too was a bit overwhelmed and didn't make it to the Red Apron booth! I read afterwards that you guys were there, so I was sad I didn't. I was at the point I was so full I had to stop.

My lesson for next year though, map out the booths you really want to visit, then if you have room, wander around!!