Author: theporkgirl

Recap: Long Table Dinner at the Fairmont Macdonald

On Tuesday, August 20, 2019, The Fairmont Hotel Macdonald hosted their annual long-table dinner. This year, the hotel reduced the price to just $69 for a four-course menu which included a glass of wine from their signature collection (enjoyed on the patio with arguably the best view in Edmonton). I wasn’t the only one who thought $69 for a multi-course dinner at the Harvest Room at the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald was a good deal. In response to the demand, The Mac oversold to accommodate 160 people  who were set up across two long tables in the Empire Ballroom. A wonderful thing about the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald is their ability to accommodate just about any allergy and food intolerance you throw at them. In addition to my gluten free needs, our friends also required a lactose free dinner – no problem for Chef Mridul and his culinary team, who served up a lovely summer-inspired menu. FIRST COURSE Scallop aguachile, cucumber, cilantro, tempura prawns, paprika oil SECOND COURSE Meyer lemon ricotta & broccoli gnudi, soya steak, petite …

Cooking in Gascony, France

Life moves pretty slow in Gascony, an area of southwest France where I spent six days last summer immersed in a culinary course. Just how slow life moved was reinforced the day I tried to get back to the Gascony Cookery School’s kitchen before our French instructor Bernard delivered our first course of foie gras for lunch. I had just sat down in the restaurant for lunch with a glass of rosé when I realized I had left a tart in the oven from our morning pastry class. I was hustling back the 150 meters between buildings when our neighbor, who seemed to never be wearing a shirt, but always drinking a bottle of wine, caught sight of me. “Ca va?” he asked, concerned. In my remedial French I responded that yes, I was alright. He brought his arms to his side and swung them back and forth rapidly, laughing as he mocked my urgent speed-walking. I lacked the language skills to say my tart may already be on fire, so I just smiled and …

Recap: Taste Alberta dinner at The Common

I’ve had the opportunity to organize four Swine and Dine collaboration dinners for Alberta Pork alongside The Common’s Chef Jesse Morrison, so when I pitched him the idea of hosting a Taste Alberta – Prairie on the Plate dinner, I knew he would jump at the opportunity to create a menu featuring ingredients from Taste’s commodity partners:  Alberta Chicken, Alberta Pulse Growers Commission, Egg Farmers of Alberta, Alberta Canola, Alberta Turkey, Alberta Milk, and Alberta Pork. On Tuesday, June 25, 2019, The Common hosted over 70 diners for chef Morrison’s first ever Taste Alberta – Prairie on the Plate dinner. Together with his girlfriend Tressa (also known as my favourite local designer – Sessa Wearables), chef Morrison created a menu inspired by great local products, produce, protein and pulses in season. The result was a multi-course menu that had a fresh spring/summer taste that flowed from one course to the next. As seen in his previous Swine and Dine dinners, Chef Morrison shared his love of Alberta pork with a perfectly cooked porchetta main course. But, he also took advantage of …

A Weekend in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory

We recently celebrated our fifth anniversary with an extended weekend in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. For $300 return from Edmonton each we booked round trip flights with Air North, Yukon’s Airline, which allows guests to take two suitcases and still gives out snacks, mini-meals, and drinks for free – it could be one of the best travel deals we score all year. We arrived late on a Thursday night, which gave us three full days to explore before catching a 6 a.m. direct flight back to Edmonton on the following Monday morning. While we easily could have spent more time in the Yukon (allowing us to walk in the footsteps of gold rush hopefuls along the Chillkoot Trail, canoeing up the Yukon River, or living up the Klondike experience in Dawson City), three days in the land of the midnight sun was enough for a taste of the Yukon. Here are some of the activities that kept us busy on our trip: IN AND AROUND WHITEHORSE A CULINARY ADVENTURE We fueled up for a full day …

Winery Spotlight Series at the Edmonton Expo Centre

With his extensive fine-dining culinary experience with Fairmont Hotels & Resorts globally, including Edmonton’s Fairmont Hotel Macdonald, it is no surprise that Chef Jiju Paul launched a Winery Spotlight Dinner series at his new culinary home – the Edmonton Expo Centre. While the venue may spark images of concession food or banquet-plated dinners from the list of sporting, music, or trade show events that frequent the Edmonton Expo Centre, chef Paul is eager share just how memorable a dining experience at the Edmonton Expo Centre can be. When chef Paul invited me to his second dinner in the Winery Spotlight Series, I was overjoyed to learn the evening would feature Spanish wines, especially as The Spanadian would be joining me and he would be able to have a taste of home. Although I know chef Paul is talented, my expectations for the event were not high because I had a preconceived notion about the venue. How good could a wine dinner at the Edmonton Expo Centre really be? Well, I have no problem admitting I was …

Recap: Taste Alberta Prairie on the Plate at Cafe Linnea

Earlier this month, Cafe Linnea played host to Taste Alberta‘s most recent Prairie on the Plate dinner. Many are surprised to learn that Cafe Linnea is open for dinners, as the restaurant first became known as a all day breakfast and brunch spot when in opened in 2016. Well, I am eager to help spread the word that chef Kelsey Johnson and her culinary team are serving up a fantastic dinner menu at Cafe Linnea. In addition to the regular dinner menu available Wednesday to Saturday nights, guests can experience a two or three course chef’s choice menu for $35 and $45 respectively. Including an amuse bouche to start the meal, I think it is one of the best dinner deals going in Edmonton. Since the restaurant opened, chef Kelsey has used local ingredients in ways inspired by her French and Scandinavian heritage to create a menu that is unique to Cafe Linnea. Her focus on Alberta grown, Alberta raised, and Alberta produced products made Cafe Linnea a perfect fit for a Prairie on the Plate …

Recap: Prairie on the Plate at Under the High Wheel

Well, the 2019 Taste Alberta Prairie on the Plate kicked off at Under the High Wheel with a flavour-packed Asian infusion on Thursday night. In advance of Lunar New Year, Chef Doreen Prei shared a four-course Asian-inspired menu featuring feature ingredients from Taste Alberta‘s commodity partners: Alberta Turkey, Alberta Chicken, Alberta Canola, Egg Farmers of Alberta, Alberta Milk, Alberta Pulse Growers Commission, and Alberta Pork. A new addition to the Under the High Wheel culinary team, chef Prei has been tasked with shaking up the dinner menu. She was eager to create a Prairie on the Plate menu to help spread the word that the brunch/lunch favourite in Old Strathcona is also open for dinner, but also because Under the High Wheel has always been a local-ingredient focused restaurant; hosting a Taste Alberta dinner was a natural fit. Our evening started with a welcome cocktail – made with ginger and basil syrup, gin, and topped with sparkling wine – followed by a welcome from Chef Prei and an explanation of our first dish of the …

Chef Corbin Tomaszeski on growing up on a farm, knowing where his food comes from, and inspiring people to cook and eat together

At this year’s Christmas in November at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, celebrity chef Corbin Tomaszeski was all about teaching others to have fun in the kitchen. His culinary sessions included everything from sabering champagne bottles to having his kitchen helpers on stage (like my friend Abe) gobble like a turkey every time he said “turkey” while sharing his recipe for spiced turkey sliders. Beyond the giggles and entertainment in his Taste Alberta sponsored cooking demos and fireside chats, chef Corbin had a message to share about ingredients, cooking food, and eating a meal. It was a simple concept, and one that Corbin experienced throughout his childhood growing up on a farm in Alberta. Through his first-ever cookbook – In Good Company: Easy Recipes for Everyday Gatherings – Corbin hopes to inspire others to share homemade food together with friends and family. I sat down with Corbin during Christmas in November at the Fairmont JPL to learn more about his farming roots and what motivated him to write his first cookbook. What was your introduction to food …

A weekend in Los Angeles – 10 things to do without a car

When Westjet posted a seat sale a few weeks before The Spaniard’s birthday, I took advantage of a deal I saw on the direct flight from Edmonton and booked us a three-night trip to the city of angels. I knew I wanted to take him to an NBA game, but after that I wasn’t sure what we would get up to. Everyone I spoke with said we would have to rent a car, but we weren’t excited by the prospect of sitting in traffic, trying to find parking, or paying for parking (especially with the Canadian $ making our American trips more expensive). So – I took a look at where the LA metro and bus system could take us, and we decided to plan our trip around that. From the airport we took the free shuttle to the LAX metro stop  where we were able to take the metro conveniently for around the same time it would have been for an uber or the FlyBus in high traffic times. Google didn’t give us the …

Get Creative at a Cory Christopher Fresh Floral Workshop

For the past few years, Cory Christopher has inspired me into attempting holiday decor designs at home after attending his Do-It-Yourself (DIY) decor sessions at Christmas in November at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. Cory, who is like a Christmas elf with a green thumb, manages to whip through about 15 projects in the 75 minute class using an assortment of fresh florals, second-hand books, and home accessories from everywhere from the storage closet to the dollar store and Canadian tire. It is exhausting and inspiring all at the same time.   View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Cory Christopher (@corychristopher) on Oct 2, 2018 at 9:11pm PDT If you follow Cory’s Instagram account, it is hard not to be inspired by the beautiful floral bouquets, succulent displays, and wedding theme photos he and his team create around the province of Alberta. Thankfully, Cory offers a chance to recreate his bouquets through his hands-on fresh floral workshops at his studio in Edmonton and at his family farm north of St. Albert. …