Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Taste of the Prairies – Live Cooking Demo and Tasting

This past week I attended the Taste of the Prairies event. It was held in Le Salon of the NAC. My first thought – what a perfect room for this event. When they closed the doors, I looked around and couldn't believe how up-close and personal we were. It was awesome. I kind of felt like we were in each chef's kitchen and that they were cooking specifically for me. Kind of like the feeling I get when I sit at the island at home and watch my husband make dinner. Both chefs Alexander Svenne (from Manitoba) and Dan Walker (from Saskatchewan) were absolutely delightful, bringing us through the steps of their dishes with lots of laughs in between.

First up was Alexander. He's got a restaurant in Winnipeg called Bistro 7 1/4 that I'm totally going to visit my next time there. His pickerel cheek done two ways was delish. One fried, the other cured. Along with it, pickerel mousseline, white fish caviar, red beet borscht and horseradish crème fraîche.

Next, over to Dan of Weczeria Food & Wine in Saskatoon with his Saskatoon raised Wagyu rib eye. This melt-in-your-mouth piece of meat was to-die-for. Especially paired with the yummy caramelized red onion on top. Along with it, roast garlic potato.

Alexander returned to the spotlight with his red wine and rosemary cured elk loin, pickled radish, sweet nicky brown (brown sugar) braised elk shoulder, heavenly artichoke purée, sinful winter beer marinated crispy onion, pickled radish and rye caraway cracker. Wow. This was by far my favourite dish. Actually, both meat dishes were amazing. But this one, well, this one held a special place in my heart. (Sorry, no photo for this one. Rushing over from work left me without my camera so the photos were taken with my iphone, and the shot I had for this did not do it justice at all. The mental image in your head should do just fine!)

Back over to the fish, Dan served up a northern pike roe cake along with bright green peas and fresh pasta. The texture of this was so different. I can't say I've ever had roe as the main ingredient before, it usually takes a supporting role to something else. Nonetheless, it was great.

And finally, chef Michael Blackie ended the evening with a crispy baked hazelnut glutinous rice ball with a tarragon-cheesecake core. A sweet and savoury ball of goodness.

What a fabulous night. My glass never emptied of Pelee Island Pinot Noir, and I even got to chat with Danielle, chef Svenne's wife who is a marvelous woman.


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