Edmonton food

Branching Out: The Workshop Eatery

December 21, 2015

It's always interesting to see what happens when a chef from a local restaurant chain branches off to start their own venture. A well-known Edmonton chef recently did just that, and you know who I'm talking about: Chef Paul Shufelt!

Workshop Eatery - 2003 91 Street SW - Edmonton AB

After ten years as Executive Chef for the Century Hospitality Group, Chef Paul Shufelt decided it was time to start up a restaurant of his own. The Workshop Eatery officially opened a couple weeks ago in The Mosaic Centre, Canada's largest net-zero commercial building. Choosing to open up in a sustainable building definitely poses its challenges, but supporting local producers, sustainability, and using seasonal produce are concepts important to Chef Paul.

So what does this all mean for The Workshop Eatery? For starters, the restaurant will grow a variety of herbs and vegetables in the outdoor planter boxes when the weather permits. The rooftop is also home to honeybees, and the honey is collected and utilized in the dishes on the menu. The idea is to use ingredients at their peak for best flavour, and they can also be preserved as pickles and jams for use throughout the year. In the seasons where ingredients cannot be grown or are unavailable, they will be sourced from producers in the local area. Having a home in an environmentally conscious building has definitely shaped the concept for this restaurant!

The Workshop Eatery is located in the far south neighborhood of Summerside, which can be a fair drive for many in Edmonton. But once you enter the building you're greeted by an open space and living wall, which shows how unique and beautiful the Mosaic Centre really is. As for the restaurant, you're greeted into a space that is warm, rustic and inviting. I love the open concept and the visibility of the kitchen - there's nothing to hide!

Throughout the different seasons, the menu will consist of roughly 20 staple dishes and a different feature each day. What makes the menu seasonal will be the different accompaniments and sides to a main dish. If you're ever wondering what's on the menu on a particular day, just check the website! It's amazing that they will be updating their online menu daily!

We started off our meal with a couple of appetizers, first up was the Arancini ($12). The arancini at Workshop changes daily, and the "New York Deli" arancini with deli meats, a balsamic tomato smear, and Nefiss Lazizz Olive Oil was the feature for the day. These fried risotto balls had a golden, crisp exterior, and broke open to reveal a creamy mix of risotto, green peas, and small morsels of meat. I personally prefer my arancini to be rich and cheesy, so these arancini didn't quite deliver for me.

Next up came the Chicken Liver Parfait ($11) served in a small mason jar with crostinis made from Bon Ton Bakery's Cranberry Raisin Nut Bread. The liver was whipped with a mousse-like texture and topped with a port and Saskatoon berry jam. It was a perfect balance between sweet and savoury, and I loved the different textures that the crostini added to the mixture.

Our last starter for the meal was the Duck Carpaccio ($17) featuring Moosewood Acres cured duck breast, pickled shiitakes, carrots, daikon, a soy reduction and blood orange vinaigrette. I really enjoyed the fragrant orange paired with the duck, and the tang of the vinaigrette, but found that the dish was much too salty. Typically a carpaccio dish features meat that is extremely thinly sliced or pounded thin, but the duck in this carpaccio was thickly sliced. The thick slice combined with the soy reduction was quite salty, so with some adjustments to the cut and seasoning, I would really enjoy this dish!

Just like the arancini, The Workshop Eatery has a feature dish each evening. On the night of our visit Tangle Ridge Lamb Chops were being served with a butternut squash, corn and bacon hash. The lamb chops were moist and tender, and looked beautiful against the brightly coloured hash. The hash itself was naturally sweet but lacking in smokiness which we expected from the bacon. As it turns out, we didn't find much bacon in the hash either, so that could have accounted for the discrepancy.

For myself I ordered the Duck Duck Couscous (how fun is that to say?!) ($32) which featured beautifully seared Moosewood Acres duck breast on a bed of warm couscous with raisins, almonds, pickled cherries and vanilla parsnip puree. The duck was cooked to a perfect medium, and the lightly sweet couscous was a great companion to the duck. The parsnip puree was also a delightful addition to the dish, and complemented both components on the plate. Although I love lamb, the duck was definitely the winner for me and I would happily order it again.

When it came down to the desserts, I was torn between two options. The panna cotta at The Workshop Eatery is made with the rooftop honey and would have been my first choice, but I couldn't resist the Croissant Bread Pudding ($9). The flaky croissant pieces are paired with white chocolate and cranberry, giving this dessert some tart notes to balance the sweet. Topped with a generous scoop of Pinocchio's cinnamon ice cream, this was a comforting dessert that I would eat again.

Taken as a whole, we had a great dinner at The Workshop Eatery: our dishes were good and the service was attentive. If there's one thing I love about The Workshop Eatery, it's their commitment to sustainability and supporting local producers. Their decision to move into the Mosaic Centre means that the drive to their restaurant is long and far for many patrons, but the principles of the building align with the values of the restaurant. It's great to see so many local farmers mentioned throughout the menu, and I think it will be interesting to see how things shift once the growing season in Edmonton comes around.

Given that The Workshop Eatery is an advocate for supporting local, the prices on the menu reflect the higher cost of the ingredients, as appetizers range from $9-$17 and main dishes run $24-34. It's not going to be the neighborhood restaurant you visit for dinner everyday, but it is a nice option for celebrations and get-togethers for those living in the immediate area. With lunch options and brunch on the weekend, I'm sure The Workshop Eatery is a welcome addition to Summerside.

The Workshop Eatery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

*Disclosure: I was invited to try The Workshop Eatery as media to sample the new menu. Views expressed in this post are solely mine. This post is 100% my opinion, and as always, my priority is to you, the reader, to present an unbiased, thorough review.

Edmonton food

Hello St. Albert: XIX Nineteen

December 13, 2015

Edmonton is a growing city and the suburbs have been a popular place for couples to move and start their families. Dining options are typically restricted to chain restaurants and fast food establishments, but if there's one local restaurant that has proven that fine dining can thrive in the suburbs, it's XIX Nineteen.

XIX Nineteen - #104, 150 Bellerose Drive - St. Albert AB

XIX Nineteen is a popular destination for diners in the Terwillegar/Windermere area of Edmonton, and for good reason: the food and service are always top notch. After three successful years in Edmonton, Nineteen has expanded to a second location at the Shops at Boudreau in St. Albert.

The restaurant space in St. Albert is similar to the location in Terwillegar, where a brightly lit (and incredibly clean!) open kitchen allows diners to watch the kitchen team expertly prepare plates for service. Modern accents complete the decor, giving the restaurant a chic, upscale feel.

So how does St. Albert differ from Terwillegar? Aside from a slightly different menu, diners are in the hands of Head Chef Rino Lam, a graduate of the NAIT Culinary Arts program and certified Red Seal Chef with over 15 years of culinary experience. I had an opportunity to preview the menu, and I was excited to see what Chef Rino had in store for us.

The evening kicked off with the Irving's Farm Pork Belly "Fung Bun" ($14), where citrus soy-glazed pressed pork belly, pickled red onions, cucumber and green onions are folded into a Chinese-style, soft steamed bun. The acidity from the onions cut the fattiness of the pork belly nicely, and the sweet and salty balance in this dish was perfect. I really wish more restaurants would serve buns!

The Garlic Quebec Duck Wings ($15, lounge menu only) can be done two ways: with spicy honey garlic sauce or fried garlic, shallot, scallion, and chili flakes. Our wings were done with the latter, and they were delicious! The crispy coating gave way to fragrant confit duck wings with a kick of heat.

An individual portion of Nineteen's Spicy Miso Albacore Tuna Tartare ($17) came next, dressed with avocado, tomato, deep fried garlic, shaved radish and a spicy miso dressing. The tuna was fresh and well seasoned, but I think what I loved the most was the beautiful pops of colour on the plate!

When it came time for the mains, a delicate Miso Marinated Sablefish with wild mushrooms and rapini made it's way to the table. The buttery fish was cooked perfectly and would be fantastic for anyone looking for a lighter main dish. Unfortunately it isn't currently on the menu, but I hope it makes it there!

Everyone was in for a treat when the Alberta AAA Beef Tenderloin ($38) hit the table. Sous vide and seared to a beautiful medium rare, the premium cut of beef was served with a vibrant beet risotto, Quebec goat cheese crusted zucchini, walnuts, and baby arugula.

We were absolutely spoiled when it came to desserts as four different offerings were placed on the table. First up was an apple pie complete with a deliciously crispy, flaky crust and a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream. The pie wasn't overly sweet and would be a great finish to a meal!

Next up came a warm brown butter cake, again with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. This is for those that love digging into a slice of cake while it's still warm! The cake is warm, moist, and tasted great combined with the ice cream and caramel sauce.

Since it doesn't quite feel like "real winter" yet, Nineteen's dessert menu features a light pumpkin cheesecake dusted with graham crumb. The pumpkin is subtle, but what I liked about this cheesecake was the lighter texture. Without the density, it ends up being a cheesecake that isn't too rich after a heavy meal.

Last but not least came the Pizookie (below) - Nineteen's pizza cookie! Served straight from the oven in a sizzling hot skillet, this is everything that a chocolate chip cookie should be! Warm (read: hot!) from the oven, gooey, chocolatey, and served with ice cream. It's a sinfully rich dessert that is definitely worth all the calories.


It's great to see local restaurants succeed and it's awesome that Nineteen has been able to open up a second location. I can't even count how many times I've heard people complain that Nineteen is too out of the way for them to visit, so hopefully this new spot in St. Albert can entice some Edmontonians to finally have their first taste of their Asian-inspired Canadian cuisine. The menu is definitely on the pricier end of things, so while Nineteen isn't a restaurant to visit everyday, it's a great spot for celebrations and special date nights. For those looking for something more budget friendly, Nineteen's lounge offers happy hour specials from 3-6 PM daily, so you can try cocktails and appetizers at a fraction of the cost.

This location in St. Albert also hosts brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 9AM - 2PM. Even though the Terwillegar location is a 5 minute drive from my house, I'm definitely interested in making the drive to check out their brunch offerings! A big thank you to Chef Andrew Fung, Chef Rino Lam, and the team at XIX Nineteen for the great food and service, and congratulations on opening your second location!

XIX Nineteen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

*Disclosure: I was invited to XIX Nineteen in St. Albert to sample the new menu. Views expressed in this post are solely mine. This post is 100% my opinion, and as always, my priority is to you, the reader, to present an unbiased, thorough review.


Striving for Authenticity: Alberta Hotel Bar + Kitchen

December 08, 2015

When Tavern 1903 in the old Alberta Hotel suddenly shut down this year, Edmonton's food scene lost a great restaurant. As the space lay empty, everyone wondered what it would be converted into.

Alberta Hotel Bar + Kitchen - 9802 Jasper Avenue - Edmonton AB

When it was announced that Chef Spencer Thompson of Toast Fine Catering would be opening his first restaurant in the space previously occupied by Tavern 1903, I was pretty excited. Toast Fine Catering is a permanent vendor in the Old Strathcona Farmers Market that serves up breakfast and brunch options for market-goer's every Saturday morning. I've never had a bad breakfast there, so I was looking forward to seeing what Chef Spencer had up his sleeves.

The Alberta Hotel Bar + Kitchen had a three week soft opening prior to their grand opening on November 19th. I booked a group dinner with my friends for my birthday this year and we were all looking forward to trying out the entire menu. For our group of 15 people, I was surprised upon arrival to find that we had been split into four separate tables. Normally this wouldn't be an issue, but with one dedicated server to our group (she was lovely!) the service was very disjointed. As the first table was receiving their food, the fourth table hadn't even made their order yet, so instead of being served as a group, we were served as four separate tables that weren't dining together. Just something to take note of if you're planning on making a reservation for more than 6 people.

Strange Brew ($12.75)

Now onto the food. The Alberta Hotel Bar + Kitchen promises diners an authentic experience - honest, transparent, and uncomplicated. The menu features many local producers - likely due to the relationships that Chef Spencer has developed over the years with vendors at the farmers market. The offerings are fairly concise and include options for diners with vegetarian or gluten free diets. General Manager Brandon Baker (previously of Three Boars) is the mind behind the cocktail menu which has a handful of cocktails he crafted himself.

My table started the evening with a couple appetizers, and first up was the Warm Mushroom & Lobster Salad ($18). The salad was presented beautifully with pea shoots, crimini mushrooms, a hefty chunk of lobster, a poached egg, and shaved Italian truffle. The components were fresh and the mushrooms flavourful, but the salad itself wasn't too exciting.

Next up came the Beef Carpaccio ($17) sliced paper thin and finished with a drizzle of cold pressed canola oil, pea shoots, and shaved pecorino. It was nice to see the kitchen using pea shoots rather than arugula (as many do in this dish), since it brought on a different dimension of flavour. Unfortunately the dish itself was underseasoned, and a bit of salt and pepper could have gone a long way.

The Steamed Manila Clams ($16) arrived in a heaping pile, served in a light broth with heirloom tomatoes, garlic, lemon and crostinis. The clams were fresh, and the light, savoury broth highlighted their natural sweetness. The dish had great value given the portion size, and was perfect for sharing among the table.

We also had an order of the Bone Marrow Agnolotti ($16) cooked in brown butter and served with wild mushrooms, celery root puree, and shaved pecorino. Agnolotti are delicate pockets of pasta, and those that arrived at our table had burst open, with their contents spread widely across the dish. While the dish didn't quite have the best presentation, it was the most flavourful and my favourite of the four appetizers we had ordered.

When it comes to the main dishes the menu has five different options, where one is a vegetarian pasta and the remainder feature local proteins. My boyfriend opted for the Manitoba Pickerel ($24) with scallops, clams, zucchini, fennel, and potatoes cooked in a gin and tomato broth. The fish was fresh and cooked nicely, and the flavours didn't overpower the fish itself.

Another dish at our table was the Pembina Pork Cheeks ($24) cooked with wild mushrooms and served on a bed of buttermilk polenta with arugula, tomato jam and pecorino. The pork was fall-apart tender and the polenta was light and creamy. It was a great dish with balanced flavours.

For myself I had the Duck Breast ($28), because any time there's duck involved, it's mine! Two beautiful pieces of duck breast sat atop a carrot puree with brussels sprouts and roasted pears. Unfortunately mine had been overcooked, but the kitchen had no problem replacing it. The second plate's duck was beautiful - medium rare, and seared off with a nice crisp skin. The duck was delicious, but even better was the roasted brussels sprouts. They were flavourful, not over cooked, and I could not stop eating them. This was definitely the star of the night for me, and I wouldn't hesitate to order it again.

Pastry Chef Kai Wong has brought together a great selection of desserts. Of the five options, there was one calling my name - namely, the Alberta Hotel Banana S'mores ($12). Chocolate ganache, graham crumbs, bruleed banana, whipped marshmallow, and a scoop of housemade banana ice cream were presented beautifully in a deconstructed manner on the plate. Deconstructed plating can be hit or miss, but this dessert was fantastic. Eaten together or separately, every component was delicious, but I was partial to the ice cream.

Cheesecake ($10)

While there were some hits and misses throughout the evening, we noticed that there was a lack of consistency from one table to the next. A dish could be underseasoned at one table while the same dish was heavily seasoned at the next. Even more interesting was that two of the same dish being ordered at one table could taste completely different. It was evident on the night of our visit that the kitchen was lacking consistency, which was unfortunate given that the kitchen had been practicing for over three weeks. The Alberta Hotel Bar + Kitchen has huge potential in becoming a strong name in the Edmonton food scene. As a big supporter of local producers, I do hope to see them succeed and strive for consistency in their dishes. While I won't be rushing back for a visit, I'm eager to return for another bite of that duck breast in the future. A big thanks to all my food-loving friends that came out to celebrate my birthday - life would be less calorically dense without you!

Alberta Hotel Bar & Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Hardbite Root Vegetable Chips: Review & Giveaway

December 03, 2015

What do beets, carrots and parsnips have in common? Sure, they're all root vegetables, but they're also part of the exotic line of root vegetable chips made by Hardbite!

You've probably seen Hardbite Chips in your local grocery stores. Their crunchy chips are found inside unique black bags decorated with images of distinct landmarks in British Columbia, Canada. Why BC? Because Hardbite is produced out of Maple Ridge, from potatoes and root vegetables sourced from local farmers in the area. Their snacks are a wonderful Canadian product, and even received support from some of the Dragons on Dragons' Den.

After a successful launch of their Parsnip Chips, Hardbite introduced their beet and carrot chips this fall. Drop'N Mad Beets beet chips are a beautiful crimson red colour, and being lightly salted they are a sweet and savoury chip. 18 Carrot Gold carrot chips are golden orange and have a distinct, slightly sweet carrot flavour.

So what exactly makes Hardbite Chips so great? The company takes pride in the fact that their products are
  • Locally produced in Maple Ridge
  • All natural - each chip bag has a short list of ingredients that you will recognize!
  • Verified Non-GMO by the Non-GMO Project
  • Trans Fat, cholesterol and gluten free
What I love about these chips is that you can taste the natural flavour of the vegetables in the chip. The chips are processed in small batches and hand-turned to ensure the highest quality. And given that the chips are made from root vegetables, they're a low carb, guilt-free snack! If you don't like vegetables, at least you can get some of your daily vegetable servings in chip form. Of the three flavours, Drop'N Mad Beets is my favourite - I love the earthy sweetness of the beets! Each bag of chips comes in a 150g size and can be found at many grocery stores across Canada and the US. To find these chips near you, you can use the store locator here.

In the spirit of the holiday season, Hardbite has offered one of my readers the opportunity to try these new root vegetable chips! Check out the full giveaway details below, this giveaway is open to all my Canadian readers. Happy holidays and happy snacking!



One Hardbite Prize Pack

Mandatory Entry: To enter, tell me what your favourite root vegetable is by commenting on this post! Please make sure you leave a valid email address in the giveaway widget as this is how I will be contacting you.


1. Follow me via Twitter (@littlmissandrea) (+1)
2. Follow Hardbite Chips on Twitter (@Hardbite) (+1)
3. Tweet about the giveaway: "Check out @Hardbite's new root vegetable chips! Win a prize pack from @littlmissandrea" and link back to this post (+2)
4. Follow me via Instagram (@littlmissandrea) (+1)
5. Visit my Facebook page, and share the giveaway post (+3)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway is open to anyone 18+ years of age in Canada. You have until December 18th to enter and the winner will be selected by random and be contacted via email. Good luck!


Winter Skin Ready with Rodan + Fields

December 02, 2015

As soon as the cold weather comes around I hunt for skincare products that will keep my skin happy in the winter. I tend to struggle with dry skin not only due to the weather, but also due to the dry air in the environment that I work in (hospitals are sooo dry).

I was recently introduced to the product line by Rodan + Fields, a California-based skin-care line developed by dermatologists Dr. Katie Rodan and Dr. Kathy Fields. These two doctors also created the well-known line of Proactiv skincare products. Rodan + Fields products aim to target specific skincare problems: reduction of lines, restoration of firmness, targeting dullness and discolouration, acne, and post-acne scarring.

Rodan + Fields skincare products had their start in high-end department stores, but the founders ultimately pulled their product and went into direct selling through independent consultants. This American skincare brand has started to make their way into the Canadian market, and I was given the opportunity to give the Microdermabrasion Paste and Night Renewing Serum a try.

During the winter months my skin relies on a combination of exfoliants, serums, and creams to stay soft and hydrated. The Rodan + Fields Microdermabrasion Paste is formulated with a mix of salt and sugar crystals, vitamin C, and vitamin E. The consistency is similar to most scrubs, but the formula has an oily base which allows it to glide smoothly on the skin. The company recommends using the scrub on dry skin, but I felt that was too intense and added a small amount of water. After massaging for one minute, my skin was incredibly smooth and hydrated! You don't need to use a lot of paste to get nice results, and I would probably stick to using this product once a week (compared to their recommendation of 1-3 times per week).

The serum comes packaged in individual capsules, and is formulated with a blend of peptides and retinol to visibly improve skin texture, firmness and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. The serum is quite different from those I've used in the past, as it is less of a liquid and is very lightweight. This is likely due to the presence of silicone the formula. As I had only one sample I cannot speak to the long-term promises of the serum, but I did feel that my skin was very smooth the morning after!

While Rodan + Fields products are on the pricier side, the combination of the Microdermabrasion Paste and Night Renewal serum can act as as a budget friendly mini facial at home. If you're interested in the products, get in touch with Edmonton-based consultant Bianca!

*Disclosure: This product was sent for consideration of a review. Views expressed in this post are solely mine. This post is 100% my opinion, and as always, my priority is to you, the reader, to present an unbiased, thorough review.


The Grand Recap: Christmas in November 2015

November 29, 2015

Sunshine, Bighorn Sheep, snow-kissed mountains, and a fun road-trip partner made for a pleasant four hour drive up to the iconic Jasper Park Lodge. Christmas in November is an event I have wanted to check off my culinary bucket list for quite some time, and saying I was excited to attend this year is a bit of an understatement.

What exactly is Christmas in November? It's a 3 day, 3 night culinary adventure that takes place at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge where you learn, mingle with celebrity chefs and industry experts and indulge in all things food. It's practically an all-inclusive culinary vacation, hosted in the beautiful rocky mountains, so it's worth your while if you love food and preparing for the holiday season.

For the 27th annual event, I attended on behalf of Gastropost. You may recognize Gastropost from your local newspaper in Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver or Toronto - they post food missions for food lovers to complete, and the photos can be featured in the weekly section in the newspaper. It's a fun way to share your food photography and connect with local food lovers in a unique manner. As the Gastropost ambassador my mission was to tweet, Instagram, blog, and submerse myself in all things food - it was a blast and I would happily do it all over again!

At Christmas in November there are three packages you can choose from. The first runs from Friday evening to Monday morning, the mid-week package spans Monday evening to Thursday morning, and the final package runs Thursday evening to Sunday morning. My boyfriend and I attended the mid-week package, which we felt was perfect for our introduction to this extravagant event.

On the first night we attended the welcome reception, where guests were invited to don their silliest Christmas sweaters. We had fun dressing for the occasion, with G dressed in his Santa sweater and myself in my elf sweater (which was complete with jingling bells, a hat, and ears!). And although we didn't win the prize for ugliest sweaters, we definitely conquered the buffet.

Like many others I’ve always felt that Las Vegas is home to some of the best buffets in the world. Forget that, the Christmas in November welcome reception is home to the buffet of all buffets. Towers of seafood, plates of charcuterie, a station with melting raclette cheese, and a whole roasted pig were just some of the things being offered that evening. It was a buffet of grand proportions, and all the food was delicious. Check out my recap here!

When you register for Christmas in November you are given the opportunity to attend seven sessions. There is also the choice to take a break from sessions to enjoy the amenities on the property (spa, hot tub, etc.) or take the time to explore Jasper and the surrounding area. As I wanted to learn as much as I could, I spent all my sessions with guest presenters, and my first day started with Giselle Courteau, co-owner of Duchess Bake Shop.

Duchess Bake Shop is arguably one of the best patisseries in Canada. The shop is well known for the French pastries and macarons, so Giselle spent the morning sharing her passion for the meringue sandwich cookies. I've made macarons in the past and I know how difficult it can be, but Giselle made it look like a breeze. Some of the best things I learned that morning?
  • If you prefer to grind your own almond flour, allow it to dry after grinding as it will be quite oily
  • There is no difference between using room temperature and cold egg whites if you’re using egg albumen
  • Use powdered food colouring or a paste to colour the macaron shells, as you do not want to add additional moisture to the batter. If using powder, add it in with the sugar. If using paste, add it after the meringue has been whipped
  • Even if you have a perfect oven without hot spots, always turn your tray partway through baking the macaron shells
Check out Giselle's tips and recipe to make the best French macarons.

Following the morning session was a three course lunch sponsored by Taste Alberta and the Alberta Turkey Producers. A refreshing salad of beets, goat cheese and citrus came before our main dish of salt brined Alberta free range turkey. A beautiful slice of strawberry and white chocolate layer cake with orange cremeux rounded off the meal, and although many won't admit to it, I think some of us in the afternoon sessions were affected by the tryptophan in the turkey!

The next session of our day was spent with Pierre Lamielle, corporate chef for Subzero and Wolf Appliances. You may recognize Pierre from Top Chef Canada, Chopped Canada, and for his award-winning food illustrations. He shared his take on cocktail-inspired desserts, suitably named "Boozy Baked Desserts." He walked the participants through three desserts inspired by Coffee with Baileys, a Bourbon Old Fashioned, and Sangria. Pierre had a great sense of humour that had everyone hooked onto every word of his presentation. My favourite dessert was the Coffee Pot de Irish Creme, but the bread pudding was a very close second. I'm a sucker for coffee and Bailey's by the fireplace during the winter season, so I'll definitely be making some over the holidays. Check out my recap and the recipes here.

For our last session of the day we joined Chef Christine Cushing in making a three course holiday meal. She was personable and you could tell she was really passionate about the food she was cooking. The pairing of Serrano ham and roasted quince was a unique take on prosciutto with melon, and her sweet potato gnudi was a hit! I'm definitely going to try my hand at making her gnudi this holiday season, and you should too. Check out my recap here!

Prior to the first formal dinner of the week we attended a private Christmas party hosted by Chefs Anna and Michael Olson where VIP attendees and all the presenters mingled in the Golf Clubhouse kitchen. It was so much fun and surreal to be hanging out casually with so many celebrity chefs, I kept feeling like I needed to pinch myself to decide if I was in reality or a dream! We all enjoyed lamb popsicles, steak, and pork chops cooked perfectly (and in what felt like record time) by Michael Olson, while Anna Olson whipped up a quick caesar salad and sticky toffee pudding for us to enjoy. It was an event to remember, and it was such a conflict figuring out how much to eat, and how much room to save for "real" dinner.

The Tuesday evening Holiday dinner consisted of three courses, starting with a potato and leek soup with espelette and truffle essence. Next was a beautiful fall-apart braised short rib served with a bounty of root vegetables. I was about ready to explode as this was our second dinner, but the short rib was too good not to eat. It felt like we had eaten 24/7 and we vowed to pace ourselves a little bit better the next day as we finished the meal with warm sticky toffee pudding.

To kick off Wednesday we started our sessions with Chef Roger Mooking to make a version of Asian inspired surf 'n' turf from his cookbook, Everyday Exotic. His grilled steak with black bean shrimp and broccoli dust was absolutely delicious, and might I add, pretty easy to make! He was at ease during the session, throwing out tips and tricks as he prepared his ingredients:
  • When using chilis – smell them first. If they smell hot, they will be spicy, so use accordingly
  • The best way to peel ginger? With a spoon! There’s very minimal waste using this method
  • Soy sauce will vary dramatically in flavour and salinity between brands – start with smaller amounts and adjust according to your tastes
  • And, don’t forget to use your beef goggles when cooking steak! It’s the best way to figure out if the steak is ready
Of all the sessions I attended at Christmas in November, I would rank my session with Roger Mooking as my favourite. As a presenter he was confident, engaging, entertaining, and just a blast to learn from. Check out my notes from the session and grab the recipe!

As everyone gathered at the table for lunch, it was a joy to see a beautiful salad to start. Trust me, eating 24/7 makes your palate thankful for refreshing salads! Our second lunch was sponsored by Taste Alberta, Alberta Pulse, and Alberta Chicken. I love that every meal at Christmas in November highlights different producers, as it gives you an appreciation for the food grown in Alberta. Our entree was a Roasted Herb Marinated Chicken Supreme served on a bed of marinated lentils, while dessert featured a delectable tart Raspberry Lemon Dome alongside seasonal berries.

While it is great to attend sessions with celebrity chefs, I love that Christmas in November makes the effort to showcase Alberta's culinary talent too. It’s a great opportunity to familiarize yourself with people that are movers and shakers within your local food scene. Our post-lunch session was with Chef Edgar Gutierrez of Rostizado, and he shared his recipe for his delicious Rosti Pollo (roasted chicken), and churros with dulce de leche. Rostizado is a restaurant I frequent in Edmonton, and I’ve always wanted to recreate some of their bold flavours in my kitchen – now I can’t wait to try the recipes at home! Check out my recap and add some Mexican flair to your food.

For our final session at Christmas in November we joined Chefs Connie DeSousa and John Jackson, co-owners and co-executive chefs of CHARCUT and Charbar, for a Chopped-style challenge. I've always been a huge fan of their restaurants, so I was excited to see what they had in store! Each chef chose a volunteer to act as sous chef and they battled it out. Connie put together a platter featuring skewers of beef tenderloin and with blue cheese aioli and CHARCUT's famous duck fat fried poutine with truffle gravy. John offered a platter with herb-skewered beef tenderloin with chimichurri and a ceviche-style shrimp with root vegetable chips. As each team cooked, the room filled with wonderful aromas, and everyone's mouth was watering. So who won? Find out in my recap and grab the recipes!

The Jasper Park Lodge hosts a grand Gala Dinner on the last night of each Christmas in November package. The ballroom is transformed into a room dressed with gold trimmings, and everyone is dressed in their best cocktail attire to take pictures with Santa and toast to memories made at the event. The four course dinner began with a beautiful plate of fresh butternut squash ravioli made by ORSO, one of the restaurants on the Fairmont property. Next came a plate of Kobe beef carpaccio, dressed with pickled shallots, fried fingerling potatoes, and smoked parmesan cheese to garnish. As the gala dinner was sponsored by Alberta Pork, a beautiful crown roast of pork was wheeled into the dining room for slicing. The pork was perfectly cooked and seasoned to perfection. A decadent dark chocolate terrine served with Guinness ice cream and morello cherries was a wonderful end to the meal and gave everyone the energy needed to dance the night away.

Unfortunately my boyfriend and I had to leave after the gala dinner to return home, cutting our time at Christmas in November just a bit short. Nonetheless, we had been blown away by the hospitality at the Jasper Park Lodge and had an incredible time at Christmas in November. Everything (and I mean everything) feels magical and the time spent learning, eating, and engaging in all things Christmas is a truly special experience.

From the moment we stepped foot on the property, to the time that we departed, we were treated like VIPs. If there’s a place that you can expect amazing hospitality and staff that go out of their way to make your stay more enjoyable, it’s at the Fairmont. The days you spend on the property are perfect for a mini-getaway with friends or loved ones, and after this experience I can see why attendees return year after year. I’ve been asked whether Christmas in November is worth the price tag, and I can confidently say yes. Your only task is to relax and enjoy the food, presenters, and the beautiful scenery – everything else is taken care of. My boyfriend and I are already looking forward to attending next year. After all, one of our favourite chefs - Vikram Vij - will be there, and we hope to see you there too.

*Disclosure: My boyfriend and I were invited to attend Christmas in November as guests of Gastropost/Postmedia. Views expressed in this post are solely mine. This post is 100% my opinion, and as always, my priority is to you, the reader, to present an unbiased, thorough review.


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