Edmonton Bloggers and Foodies Unite
I hosted this Foodie Gathering June 30th, 2010 (a huge final hurrah at the last day of this school year)!
When I read about the Miracle Berry and Taste Tripping Parties in the New York Times, my first thought was: “Let’s get with the program!”. I started investigating the berries in January as a new foodie trend for 2010 and came to believe it would not be feasible to buy a miracle berry tree (far too finicky), or order fresh miracle berries (come packed in dry ice and are far too expensive). The most practical option, and the one most seem to choose is the freeze dried berry in tablet form: miracle berry tablets. This berry temporarily alters the sour and bitter taste buds on the tongue, thus changing the tastes of food, temporarily.
It was an adventure. Twenty tablets for $40.00 Canadian dollars. Now, to arrange the party!Â Gathering local like-minded people together to meet and eat and do some Taste Tripping was the idea.
I did try to include everyone in the Edmonton Blogosphere. Caveat: if I missed anyone, it was sincerely not intentional. Out the invitation went, and slowly, oh, so slowly trickled back the responses.
I was overwhelmed. Everyone invited, (except one), responded. I thought that was phenomenal. And, all were so warm and positive, I felt embraced. Before very long, there were well over twenty people coming, then over thirty, then over forty! I ordered more berry tablets! The response had definitely surpassed my expectations! Then one, two, three, four, five, and six couples sadly had to rescinded their acceptance, at some point along the way… so the numbers were again below forty. Still, so exciting!
But, the extra tablets never came. And never came. I was truly worried. The day before the event they arrived. They really are Miracle Berries!
Planning and preparing for a party is always exciting. I get that little tingle in my tummy I used to get when I was much younger getting ready for a date! The punch was out and ready for the final ingredients to be added just before the arrival of the guests. The “tastes” were all out in the dining room and wrapped to keep fresh for the Taste Tripping, later.
Glasses, sparkled; Penny,(my baby sister) curious (I was babysitting her for the day); Beavie, in the wrong place at the wrong time!
Name tags, out; booklet made for guests (recipes of each person’s dish), out.
Labels for each dish, out.
The yard was readied for an outside party, but the wind blustered up and the blue sky clouded over. Change of plans: inside party.
And the guests started to arrive! Kevin Kossowan, from Kevin Kossowan, was first with his Applewood Smoked Mouse Tongue. The plate he is holding is the front part of the tongue; the one below him, right, is the more tender, back and side part of the tongue. I found both to be extremely tender and the applewood smoke imparted a lovely mild smoke flavour that was first, a surprise (even though I had read the name of the dish), and second, an ethereal pleasure. I was delighted with this taste experience and with the opportunity to learn from Kevin about how he prepared the tongue of this bull moose that he felled last fall. He has recently completely redesigned his site and it is definitely one I am reading daily!
Brooke, from Take it and Like it!, brought Prosciutto & Fig Crostini. I got the very last one, and it is as delicious as it looks: salty, sweet, crispy, and creamy. YUM!
Brooke and Courtney (below) co-author Take it and Like it! Courtney, Brooke’s sister-in-law, brought Tzitziki and Pita bread with a beautiful salad made with lettuce and herbs from her garden! She had everything planted long before the snow and all survived, so she has been enjoying a lot of very local, very fresh ingredients at her house! At one point of the evening she quipped: “I am not a cook!” yet, reading her posts and eating her salad had me immediately sparring with her!
Isn’t that a gorgeous salad?
Kelley, from Cookbook Cooks, brought a Summer Chickpea Salad filled with flavour and crunch that was nutritious, delicious and true to her vegetarian roots. I felt so nourished (and loved) eating it!
Mike Ewanus, aka Jean Poutine, from May Contain Nuts (and certainly contains two!) created a crunchy, chewy and yummy Moroccan Quinoa Salad. Quinoa Salad appears to be the Salad of the Summer of 2010. I am seeing it everywhere in the blogosphere and now I know why: quinoa has a lovely texture and a deliciously nutty flavour. I will be making this salad sometime this summer, for sure!
Jessica King, aka King Crabby, co-authors May Contain Nuts with Mike, and brought a Pickled Beet Salad. She and Mike initiated their site as a way of talking to each other about their personal food experiences. After eating Jessica’s beet salad, Alvin, Daniel’s guest, was changed for life: “I have never eaten beets and thought they were terrible all of my life. I tried these tonight, and they were like candy. I just love them! I cannot believe what I have been missing!”. This dish was sparkling with flavour!
Allan Suddaby, from Button Soup, is a force to be reckoned with. This is one hard core foodie. I learn so much when I read his posts! He made a Goose Confit Ravioli with Celery Leaves and a Rhubarb Vinaigrette. The confit was deadly delicious and the ravioli cooked to perfection. The celery leaves were gorgeous on it, and added the perfect herby match. He was worried about this test trial of his rhubarb vinaigrette. Nothing to worry about except that he erred on the side of caution. Kick it up a few decibels, Allan! This dish is conceptually brilliant and with a bit more tang in the vinaigrette (maybe more of a compote) this would be an over-the-moon hit. Without it, it was scrumptious!
You have met LeQuan before in my posts! She took me to Chinatown for an amazing tour and I dedicated a post to her, too. She is from LuvtoEat and writes about her very active life with her family and two little children as they live and eat together. I have learned so much from her about Vietnamese and Chinese cooking. She brought Fermented Tofu with Water Spinach that I found very tasty! I could not see any tofu (it melted into the sauce), nor determine any tofu flavour. I don’t know the flavour of fermented tofu. I was expecting a strong flavour of some sort, but this dish was bright and fresh and surprisingly hearty!
Mel Priestley, from Cellar Door, is not known for her prowess in the kitchen. She writes about wines and though I am not a wine drinker, I find myself reading her as she is an exceptional writer and I enjoy her work. She brought Tabbouleh Salad and I was surprised to find that she can make a mean Tabbouleh! Most young people don’t cook. Melissa is definitely a foodie, too.
And here is the shy and unassuming Lea, from XOX Lea Lea, with her Brochettes de Kefta! What a blast she was when we did this. I met her at the last Foodie Meetup and was immediately charmed by her bubbly exuberance and joie de vivre! She has chosen not to enable comments on her website so you won’t find the comment button. Her keftas were paired with tzitziki and pita and I found the tzitziki a perfect foil for the little meatball popping with unexpected hits of complex flavour.
Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, guest were getting to know one another and arranging their food. I thought we would all be fighting for position with our cameras, as this was primarily a blogging event, but very few of us ha them out. Lea’s husband was drinking a beer I hadn’t seen around town before (which is not really a surprise as I have never even tasted beer). He loves the brew from this local brewery. Vanja had purchased a couple of cases from Alley Cat for testing and tasting as he had recently met Neil at the Summer Solstice and that finally motivated him to give it a try.
Colleen, from How to Cook a Wolf, and The Oven, brought Chicken Tajine with Tomatoes Olives and Chickpeas as well as some homemade flat bread. Deadly delish! And what a lovely tajine dish! You may recognize both Vince and Colleen as the hosts of Slow Food Edmonton‘s Summer Solstice dinner cooked in their outdoor wood fired oven. These two are a well-oiled machine in the kitchen and with outdoor wood-fired oven cooking. Bread is one of their many specialties. Vanja and I have never had such delectable artisan bread!
Bianca Osbourne, from What’s For Dinner?, brought her warm Pesto Potato Salad and it was a mighty tasty dish! I adore warm potato salads and her pesto dressing was a refreshing change to the usual potato salad fixings!
Maria Iacobelli, manager of the City Market, brought Sloppy Joe Bison Sliders which were Vanja’s favourite. Sloppy Joe’s are traditionally a bit sweet, and hers were no exception. The chewy Ciabatta buns were the perfect complement to her yummy concoction. Isn’t her presentation cute? She is just finishing it. Maria was the gal who baked the Red Fife wheat flour bread with me in the Spring!
Chris, from Eating is the Hard Part, kept me very curious about what he was going to bring. He is holding a very hot pot (!!!) and brought Puerco Pibil (also CochinitaÂ Pibil) which is a spicy citrus dish that packs a punch of incredible and completely “new to me” flavour. Loved the dish. I can’t eat meat, but the sauce was all over my rice in a second.
Daniel (@DanPrime) brought Portuguese-Style Chicken and Rice which was a delicately flavoured cream based dish that was very comforting. You may recognize Dan from our day of sous vide cooking together!
The guests were getting very hungry and with the final main to arrive, all avidly delved in to this incredible feast: a potluck is a prairie tradition.
It was sunny, but still cold, though that did not daunt some guests from sitting outside. Love the stockings? City Market has them!
Thankfully Bianca joined Kelley as she perched on the chair by herself at the onset. Though, that didn’t hamper her enjoying the dishes! Kevin brought a wine he made to pair with his moose tongue. I grow the same Saskatoons: I have four varieties! The wine was the best berry or fruit wine I have tasted. Truly. I didn’t tell Kevin that, and should have. I was preoccupied with pairing it with the tongue and appreciating the quintessential Canadian Foodie experience: Applewood Smoked Moose Tongue paired with house made Thiessen-Northline Saskatoon berry wine. WOW!
My plate (below) was full, and only filled with half of the offerings! Each absolutely incredible. I had said to keep it simple in the invite, as I was intimidated cooking for this crowd! But, each brought their heart on a plate.
Were you missing Miss BrÃ»lÃ©e? Sherene from The BrÃ»lÃ©e Blog brought Pandan Agar Agar and developed the recipe herself! She wanted to bring an experience for us to taste and eat that most would not have had and this was truly a new and unique experience for me. The agar agar was used perfectly as the jelled consistency was tender. The coconut flavour was so yummy and there was a surprise as when I ate it, it was actually somehow juicy! This was a gorgeous lovely dessert and palate cleanser preceding our Taste Tripping experience. You may remember meeting Sherene with her little Bebe at City Market’s Opening Day!
NOTE: In your recipe book (if you attended) the sugar for this recipe should read 2/3 of a cup.
Time for the Taste Tripping part of the party!!! Take the tablet, move it around all over your tongue until it dissolves. Do not chew it. Do not swallow it. The effects will last anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours. You can even start with 1/2 a tablet. That’s what I did. I admit, I was a bit afraid about a reaction. It tasted a bit like a Sweet Tart candy: sour and sweet all at once. It was quite hard, so did take awhile to dissolve on my tongue. Maria, my regular model (have you noticed this, in past posts?) is demonstrating this.
LeQuan has her plate filled with items to taste and a taste of Guiness in her hand. I provided almost all of the tastes suggested by the seller on the website. I found another article that said that Guiness tasted like a milkshake when using a miracle berry. Nope. I have never tasted Guiness before, but I have definitely had a milkshake. This was just yucky. I didn’t get to talk to LeQuan about her thoughts on the tasting experience. I am sure she will chime in here and let you know about her experience with the flavours on her plate. I don’t think her husband ventured into the Taste Tripping realm. A few attendees did not, actually. There were over thirty in attendance, and twenty pills gone. (All that worry about extra pills arriving was for naught!)
Colleen is embracing the experience and slapping a good bit of Sriracha onto her plate while Maria contemplates her choices.
Vince is a little hesitant. He is not the only one, as I said earlier. There were either several who shared, or some who didn’t participate. The lemon was a hit as it tasted like lemon drop candies.
It did take a minute or two for the effects of the tablet to kick in. My expectation was that the flavours would be altered or changed, for some reason. I was expecting a greater difference in the tastings than I experienced at first, but once I got into the rhythm of the tasting I was able to really enjoy the effects of this little miracle berry and the power of the tastes on my tongue. The lime was still tart the first time I tasted it, and then, it has like a lovely limeade: still a little tart but with a wonderful sweet undertone. I only did half a pill and am not sure if that was why there was still some sour there. Nothing else had any sour in it at all.
Once on person mentioned how delicious the lemon was, everyone was eating lemon slices like they were candy!
Vince did delve in, too, and appeared to have the same expectations I had. The strawberries were like candy, too. The most delectable strawberries on earth! The sour cream tasted like heaven with a very sweet base. I didn’t like the sweetness brought to the grape tomatoes. But there was no doubt their flavour was altered considerably. The acidity in the olives was exaggerated, and the heat in the tiny fragment of garlic I tasted burned my tongue! The pineapple was incredible and the rhubarb slices tasted like they had been soaked in a sugar syrup. It is my hope that some of the guest will add their personal experiences to the comments section, as I definitely did not get to talk to everyone about their impression and would really like to hear.
Time for dessert after the effects of the berry had worn off. Three dessert people had cancelled, so I whipped up a pavlova: one of my favourite desserts. It is great for a crowd. The meringue was made with Sunworks Farm’s eggs, and the cream was from Vital Greens farms. The raspberries were not local, but were fresh and lovely. I couldn’t find any local (or BC) berries or fruit within my time line.
Maria is again demonstrating how to eat the Pavlova! (I will blog this recipe shortly.)
And Brooke is being a great sport as I gave her a monstrous piece and she is letting me take her photo!
I had a lovely time meeting my local blogging friends! The Taste Tripping was – well, just fun! Vanja enjoyed the evening and met some very nice people (his words).
I don’t think many noticed, but Beavie was there, all evening, perched by the window, taking it all in…. and was not to be left out when the berries and cream where brought into the room. He was a busy little Beavie that evening! Too cautious to participate in the Taste Tripping as he was worried that his sour attitude might be sweetened up a bit too much!
And the day after, it was a pleasure to clean the dishes thinking about the warmth of the friendship shared the evening prior. So much to learn from so many people with so much to offer… and I was so impressed to see so many young people really into cooking and understanding the importance of cooking healthy, wholesome, fresh and local food. Edmonton Foodies – YOU ROCK!
If anyone wants a copy of all of the recipes here, just e-mail me and I can send a copy of the booklet to you that I offered to all who attended.