Author: theporkgirl

9 Reasons Bhutan is worth the price of admission

In 2019 I booked a trip to Bhutan last minute, on a whim, or as some might describe as an impulse purchase. To be perfectly honest, it was a response to a meltdown over a disappointing birthday. I entered my 30s by celebrating my 30th birthday in Rio de Janeiro during Carnival. I realized a little too late that I wanted something memorable to mark 39 – my last year before the big 4-0. So, six weeks after my birthday, I found myself with a problem that many people would love to have. I learned that I had too many vacation days that I couldn’t carry forward and I had to come up with a plan to use them. And then I found a way to burn through some vacation… a discounted G Adventures 10-day Wonders of Bhutan trip leaving in less than a month. Bhutan is not exactly easy to visit, nor is it economical.  Known as the last Shangi-La, I didn’t see my first images of the small land-locked country in between India and China …

10 Things I Learned From Chefs Anna & Michael Olson at Jasper CIN

Christmas in November (CIN) at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge (JPL) celebrated 31 years last month, and chefs Anna and Michael Olson have been there for 15 of them. As a contributor to Alberta Pork’s Passion for Pork initiative, I’ve had the privilege of attending Jasper CIN for the past seven years. I, very excitedly, get to introduce chefs Anna and Michael Olson’s culinary sessions, which have most recently been sponsored by Alberta Pork. During the 10 day event I watch their sessions daily, and while I watch them teach the same recipes on repeat, I always manage to learn something new. Between Michael’s dad jokes and Anna explaining how the holidays are all about winning, the dynamic duo always share noteworthy culinary tips and tricks that have impacted how I spend time in the kitchen. Here are ten things I’ve learned from chefs Anna and Michael Olson at Christmas in November at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge:   1. HOW TO COOK PORK BELLY PERFECT EVERY TIME The most influential recipe that Michael Olson …

A Weekend Guide to St Louis, Missouri

For the past few years we have traveled south of the border to celebrate The Spanadian’s October 16th birthday by taking in a basketball game on the NBA’s season opening weekend. This year, the league started later, so he offered up the opportunity to check out a hockey game (for me) instead. Using a search from Edmonton on the weekend we wanted to travel, he found return flights to St Louis for $420 (Canadian). When asked if I wanted to go to St Louis I replied, “sure.” I didn’t know much about St Louis, but the prospect of watching the defending Stanley Cup Champions, the St Louis Blues, and checking out a new city sounded good to me. After a bit of research, we found more than enough things to keep us entertained. We had an absolutely amazing weekend filled with great food, fun activities, a dose of history, and a view from the top of the tallest man-made monument in the United States. From the time we left our Air BnB to start exploring …

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 …