Summer Entertaining Essentials with Pinnacle Vodka

August 29, 2016

With the nights getting cooler there is no denying that Fall is just around the corner. I'm holding out for an Indian summer, but given that this summer in Edmonton has hardly felt like one I might be out of luck.

Ever since purchasing our first home this year, my boyfriend and I have spent a lot of time hosting friends and family at our house. From dinner parties and outdoor barbeques to CFL football nights, it's been such a great summer entertaining guests. To get us through the last days of summer we received a 'Summer Survival Kit' from Pinnacle Vodka last week to take the stress out of last minute party plans.

So what exactly does Pinnacle Vodka consider the essentials for summer entertaining?
  • A bottle of of Pinnacle Vodka Classic - for those yummy summer cocktails
  • A cocktail guide - different recipes ensure a drink for everyone
  • Gourmet popcorn - everyone needs a snack!
  • Gourmet marshmallows - for those classic s'mores around the fire
  • Glassware - to hold those cocktails

The Pinnacle summer survival kit has some great ingredients for a guaranteed fun night entertaining guests. I can't believe that another summer is fast coming to an end. It's time to take this kit and make the most of what's left!

What are some of your summer party essentials?

*Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Pinnacle Vodka. 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

Sturgeon County Bounty Culinary Cookout 2016

August 12, 2016

Summer is my favourite time of year at the farmers markets as all the colourful produce is in full production. Although Alberta has a short growing season I'm always amazed by the varieties we are able to grow in our region, and how bountiful the harvest really is.

The Sturgeon County Bounty is an initiative that aims to provide producers, chefs and processors the opportunity to showcase the produce and products made in and around Sturgeon County. Last week their annual Culinary Cookout took place in Cardiff Park, so I drove out to the county to check it out.

Edmonton's XIX Nineteen and Urbano Pizza joined 12 Acres (St. Albert), Jack's Burger Shack (St. Albert), Prairie Gardens (Bon Accord), and Streetside Celebration (Bon Accord) as the food vendors for the event, so there was plenty to try out. In a similar manner to Taste of Edmonton, the Culinary Cookout used a ticket system for purchasing food from vendors. But it differs in that the vendors are expected to utilize produce and products produced within Sturgeon County. It's a neat way to learn about and try local products!

The first plate we tried was the Spicy Albacore Poke Noodle Bowl from XIX Nineteen, who was paired with Peas on Earth Organic Garden. The Tuna Twists at XIX are one of my favourite bites in Edmonton so this was right up my alley. With the combination of fresh herbs, sesame slaw and cilantro aioli on the noodles and tuna, this bowl of deconstructed tuna twists was my favourite at the cookout.

Next came the Pulled Pork Croquette from 12 Acres, which featured produce and products from Vesta Gardens and Gold Forest Grains. The croquettes were hot and crispy, pairing well with the slaw.

I've been meaning to make it out to Prairie Gardens in Bon Accord for some time now, as they have a wide variety of vegetables on their farm for visitors to U-Pick. Lucky for me they were on site and had a variety of dishes featuring their own produce, as well as products from Country Quality Meats.

The Smoked Farmer Sausage Fondue caught my eye and was plated beautifully (above), but didn't quite resemble the typical fondue. The sausage paired well with the vegetable fondue, pico de gallo, chutney, corn tamale flatbread, and a variety of greens and edible flowers. Given that tomato season had started, we could not pass up the Heirloom Tomato Salad. Sweet, juicy tomatoes were paired with shaved onion, basil, and arugula and finished with a drizzle of cold pressed canola oil. It was a simple dish, but with the right quality ingredients it's a dish that can't be beat in freshness and flavour.

One thing we had not anticipated was having to wait in lines for food, so when we noticed more people arriving to the cookout it was time to divide and conquer! The longest line by far at the cookout was for Jack's Burger Shack, and for good reason - they make some pretty solid burgers. Jack's Burger Shack offerings included products from Peas on Earth and J. Nonay's Lakeside Beef, which made our BBQ Crunch burger another favourite for the night.

Burgers go hand in hand with fries, so we couldn't pass up the poutine offered at Jack's. Squeaky cheese curds and hot gravy are key to a poutine and this one delivered on all fronts.

The long drive out to Sturgeon County didn't stop Urbano Pizza Co. from bringing out a couple of their TurboChef ovens to join the cookout. Urbano offered their Pork 'N Pine and Garden Fire Pizzas, featuring Peas on Earth vegetables and Manawan Farms pork on whole wheat dough made from Gold Forest Grains flour.

With beautiful weather and a handful of vendors, the Sturgeon County Bounty Culinary Cookout was a great family-friendly event to enjoy on a Friday evening. Some of the vendors from the Morinville Farmers Market were also on site to sell their products, which further enhanced the experience. There were also plenty of children's activities set up around the park so if you're interested, bring the family down for next year's event.

*Disclosure: I was invited to check out the culinary cookout and was provided with tickets for food sampling. Views expressed in this post are solely mine. I was not expected to feature this event on my blog, nor obligated to do so. This post is 100% my opinion, and as always, my priority is to you, the reader, to present an unbiased, thorough review.


Sabor Seafood Festival 2016: August 5 - September 3

August 05, 2016

Seafood lovers get ready! Sabor's annual Seafood Festival is back for it's third year, from August 5th - September 3rd. I had the opportunity to attend the media kickoff dinner last week and there's some exciting plates on the menu this year.

Sabor - 10220 103 Street - Edmonton AB

As one of Edmonton's top seafood restaurants, its great to know that Sabor's menu is 100% Ocean Wise approved. This means that all the seafood utilized at Sabor is recognized by the Vancouver Aquarium conservation program as sustainable. Given the farm-to-table popularity, it may seem silly to question where your seafood comes from, but overfishing is one of the greatest threats to our oceans. Without making a conscious decision to consume sustainable seafood, fisheries worldwide could collapse by 2048!

Chef collaborations are becoming increasingly popular, this year Chef Jan Hansen of Hotel Arts in Calgary collaborated with co-owners Christian Mena and Chef Lino Oliveira. Although the chefs worked on the family-style meal together, the dish created by Chef Hansen will be noted on the Seafood Festival menu this year, and the proceeds from his dish will be donated to Ocean Wise to fund their research programs.

The meal began with five different tapas dishes, and first up was the Scallop & Limpet Ceviche. You won't find limpets on any other menu in Edmonton, so this is your best chance at trying these aquatic snails! You could taste the natural sweetness of the fresh scallops and limpets, but the dish was a tad viscous for my palate.

Next up came the Heirloom Tomato & Queijo Fresco Montadito - a Spanish take on bruschetta. The tomatoes were sourced from the City Market on 104St and served on bread freshly baked at the Hotel Arts. The subtle flavours worked beautifully together - it was a simple dish done right!

The Sardina Escalivada arrived next, plated beautifully across the plate. Escalivada is a Catalan dish of roasted vegetables, and the mix of roasted red peppers, eggplant, capers, and garlic paired well with the sardines.

Amêijoas á Bulhão Pato is a dish of clams cooked in a white wine sauce and is a dish with which you cannot go wrong. This Portuguese dish is named after the 19th-century Lisbon poet Bulhão Pato and is a popular first course in many restaurants.

Last of the tapas came the stunning plates of Gambas al Ajillo, jumbo shrimp cooked with garlic and wine. This interactive course made everyone set their manners aside - you just had to get in there with your hands, rip off the heads, and suck all the good juices out of those prawn heads! 

Before the main courses made their way to the tables we all had a taste of the Croquetas de Bacalao. These poached Lingcod and potato fritters had a crispy crust made for dipping into Sabor's signature piri piri sauce. The piri piri has a great kick and is so addictive!

The Caldeirada de Peixe, otherwise known as Portuguese fish stew, was my favourite dish of the night. Sabor's version features beautiful sablefish and poached lobster cooked with peppers, tomatoes, onions, and potatoes in a saffron-lobster broth. The seafood was cooked perfectly and the broth had a nice depth of flavour. If I had access to a spoon I would have finished all that delicious broth!

The last savoury dish of the evening brought together octopus and lamb for a spin on surf & turf. Smoked paprika charred octopus was paired with a chorizo-stuffed saddle of Alberta lamb. The proteins sat on a bed of migas, a side dish of kale, pine nuts, and white navy beans for a filling end to the savoury courses.

The Leite Crema ‘Dona Irene’ rounded off our meal and was a great finish to the night. The combination of creamy custard with raspberries, candied nuts, and silky caramel sauce were so good, I might have had two portions. If you're a panna cotta fan, this one is for you!

The Sabor Seafood Festival runs now through September 3rd, so you have just under one month to try out the dishes on the special menu. While the regular menu is still available, I would encourage you to try something new, or even order the dish made by Chef Hansen to support Ocean Wise initiatives! If seafood isn't your thing, not to worry - check out Sabor's newly opened sister restaurant Bodega in the Highlands area for wine and tapas instead.

*Disclosure: Sabor invited me to attend their media preview dinner. Views expressed in this post are solely mine. I was not expected to feature this restaurant on my blog, nor obligated to do so. 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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