Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Sip 'n Savour at The Taste of Edmonton 2013

Smoked Jerky with Apple Puree
I have attend Taste of Edmonton for many years, but the last few years have bemoaned the fact that most of the food vendors have served the same item year after year. The point of the event is to allow restaurants to showcase what they have to the Edmonton public who might never have stepped a foot inside their restaurants, and hopefully garner them some new customers. For the customers, it allows us to try a myriad of different food and see if there are restaurants that we like, but had never visited previously. However, it seems as though most restaurants have shied away from changing their menu year after year, and have opted to stick with items they know were popular in the past and sold well. As a result, I've found the past few years that I've attended fairly boring, eating the same items over and over again.

In order to add a new dimension to the Taste of Edmonton, they've tried different events held in conjunction, hoping to woo back those who perhaps feel the same monotony I do. So this year, they came up with a new event called Sip 'n Savour, which offers educational workshops led by Chefs and subject matter experts, on topics ranging from making butter led by @BigAddie, to curing bacon taught by the @shovelandfork crew, who regularly hold workshops on butchering, foraging, and other food-centric sessions. In addition, the Sip 'n Savour tent plays host to themed nightly pop up tastings.

Alberta Sturgeon
We had the pleasure of being invited to the Yelp Edmonton Elite event, which was being held at the Sip 'n Savour tent during their Indigenous Cuisine pop up tasting. The participating chefs were each given a black box filled with a myriad of Aboriginal ingredients, put together by Chef Shane Chartrand of Von's Steakhouse & Oyster Bar. In speaking with Chef Chartrand that evening, he revealed that whenever he gets a chance to do an event, he loves to cook cree cuisine, as it's a far cry from the cooking he does daily at work. Chef Chartrand wanted to ensure that he didn't limit the other chefs ability to be creative, and instead of simply limiting them to Cree staples - which is what he grew up with, and admits that every protein would have wound up being bison - he opted instead to cast a wider net and provide them with a variety of aboriginal ingredients. However, it was still limited to items that could be hunted, fished or foraged for such as bison, sturgeon, rabbit, apples, beets - in other words, no butter. Although the ingredients themselves were aboriginal, the finished dishes need not be, the chefs merely had to be inspired by and utilize them.

Bison Brisket
The results included a smoked jerky in apple puree, to rabbit on a type of biscuit base and topped with corn, Alberta sturgeon atop pickled potatoes and topped with fresh tomatoes and lastly a very tender bison brisket with crispy potato chips. Overall, I commend all of the chefs that participated, particularly the poor second year NAIT apprentice who wound up with the mystery box containing the jerky, as Chef Chartrand admitted that it was a very difficult ingredient to work with considering it's texture, dryness and saltiness.

So if you have time to check things out, hop on over to the Taste of Edmonton website and check out Sip 'n Savour. There are still some neat pop up tastings they have going on the rest of the week, as well as workshops - which I believe you need to buy tickets for in order to attend. I hope they keep the Sip 'n Savour event for next year and come up with a whole slew of new workshops and themed pop up tastings to do. The only suggestion for improvement I would have for the Taste of Edmonton is to try to offer some workshops in the evenings as well. Although I'm sure they were scheduled during the day so that they wouldn't interfere with the pop up tastings in the evenings, I'm sure there are plenty of people who would be interested in attending a workshop, but are unable to as they work during the weekdays. Although there are workshops on the weekends as well, I know there were and still are several being held on weekdays that I'll be unable to attend.

Thanks to @yelpedmonton for inviting me to this moovealous Yelp Elite event, twas a fun time! Also thanks to Chef Shane Chartrand for taking the time to talk to me about the Aboriginal Cuisine pop up tasting, it was a very interesting and informative chat!

Taste of Edmonton
July 18-27, 2013
Twitter: @TasteOfEdm

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