Thursday, June 14, 2012

Over Indulgence

Indulgence, A Canadian Epic of Food and Wine is an annual fundraiser put on by volunteers who are part of the local food and wine community. Ticket sale proceeds go towards supporting the Junior League of Edmonton food-related programs. Top chefs from around Edmonton are paired with Alberta food producers and VQA wineries in order to create food and wine pairings utilizing local ingredients. The cost of the event is covered by participating restaurants, producers, and wineries.

Chef Andrew Cowan (Hundred Bar & Kitchen) and I = Matching Chefs Outfits

This was my first year attending this event, although I had heard many good things from those who attended previous years. This year featured 22 different items to taste and 21 different wineries, although 1 restaurant unfortunately had to pull out last minute due issues with their supplier.

Grilled cheese and tomato soup
Tickets for this event sold out quickly, at only $65 a ticket it was a good deal if you planned on trying to eat and drink almost everything that was offered. Held at the Delta Edmonton South, we arrived 15 minutes before the start of the event to find the hallway outside the ballroom it was being held in was already filled with people.

Once we managed to find and get through to the check in desk, an adventure all of it's own with the masses of people, we each received a booklet that listed all the participating restaurants and their dishes for the evening, the local producer and the product they were featuring, as well as the winery they were paired with that listed all the wines available to try. As well we each received a biodegradable fork, and a wine glass holder plate clip, then were sent to the end of the line  which at this point was located outside of the hotel and snaking into their driveway.
Delectable pork with slaw

Once the doors to the ballroom were flung open, people eagerly moved forward, snagging wine glasses and diving right into the food and wine. Although we had the opportunity to peruse the list of what restaurants were serving what dishes, the program lacked a map of where each station was located. Unable to see through the masses to discern a pattern, we were left wandering from table to table, looking for the sign indicating what they were serving.

Having heard from friends who had attended previously that it's simply impossible to try a dish from every single restaurant, my humans and I opted to share one plate of food from each table we stopped at. It turned out to be a good plan since all the small bites quickly added up to a lot of food, and also because we found a lot of dishes to be mediocre, or not to our liking and weren't interested in more than just taste of each anyways.

Feeb carpaccio! *moofaint*
Although we were unable to try every table due to some dietary restrictions and the fact that we were getting full, here are some of the highlights of the evening from what we did try.  Culina Muttart's presented a braised milk fed Sangudo pork with house made apple kimchi, bacon chips and argula. The pork was very juicy, tender and succulent, which had a nice layer of fat on it.

Lux Steakhouse and Bar had a popcorn and duck arancini with Cheesiry Pecorino, confit duck, blackberry, green pea and radish. The arancini had a nice crispy exterior and immensely gooey and melty cheesy interior. The flavor of the duck on the side however wasn't very evident as the blackberry taste was more prominent.

Lastly Urban Diner served up a Sylvan Star Grizzly Gouda grilled cheese served on aged Gouda sourdough with aromatic tomato soup and Italian-style herbed mac & cheese croutons. The grilled cheese had a crispy bread envelope holding in warm flavorful cheese. The tomato soup however was nothing spectacular.

These restaurants did what I thought was the best job of representing the product they had been paired with in a tasty way, even if the other additions to the plate weren't always successful. The rest of the dishes were fairly forgettable and ranged from items that had very little flavor, to ones that you couldn't cut through with the biodegradable fork provided to us.

Lots of people
I think the least enjoyable part of the evening, aside from a lot of forgettable food was how incredibly crowded it was in there. It felt like Taste of Edmonton only more frantic as there was less room to maneuver around, fewer areas to stop that were out of the way to eat, and definitely no places within the ballroom to sit down, which is a problem if you have a human like mine who has enough trouble standing when well, much less when still recovering from surgery. There were surprisingly few tweets throughout the night from my Twitter friends that I know were in attendance, but perhaps like Moo, they found it difficult to find a place where they could stand out of the way to take photos and type without getting knocked into or pushed aside by voracious patrons looking to get more food and wine.

I didn't mind the cost of the ticket since the money was going to a good cause. Even though I know I wouldn't be getting my money's worth since neither me nor the humans drink much wine. However we didn't enjoy the atmosphere as it was too crowded, too rushed, too frantic, and the food was mostly subpar. If it was perhaps held in a larger venue with more room to get around, and allowed for more places to stop and eat, with some seating, it might have been less stressful for us. Although some of the behavior that night wasn't exactly what we were expecting with people actually being physically pushy - whether it was their personality or a result of the alcohol - I don't have a clue.  It wasn't as epic as I'd hoped and I am so over Indulgence and likely won't return in future years.

More photos at PhotoBucket.


  1. Lovely report and great photos, but I agree that the idea of walking around for hours without any seats is nuts. I've always hated buffets and even really good ones leave me cold. There's a reason peeps eat sitting down... it's so food can be digested!

    I am still in love with Marlow Moo, by the way.

    1. Thanks Chumbles! I agree, walking around with a plate in your hand and expecting one to stand up and eat it is nuts, and uncomfortable. My hooves are not the most coordinated either I have to admit...



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