Monday, July 24, 2017

Culinary Exchange - Day Eight

Today was the goodbye day after an amazing full week of amazing food, great restaurants, countless wine tastings, meeting reputable chefs, exciting outings, exploring the area, getting tours of kitchens and specialty food facilities, petting animals at farms, making new friends, working a huge event, being a VIP, baking workshops, touring a cooking school, and much more. My trip and adventures are not over yet though. I am staying in the general area for a few more days for a few more culinary experiences!!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Culinary Exchange - Day Seven

Today was an exciting final day on this exchange trip. We actually got to sleep in a little today - so already off to a good start! We begun with being VIP guests to the brunch event with the International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration event - same festival as the event last night but this time we just got to eat and not cook.

Next off one of the highlights of the week...a helicopter ride over the city and specifically over the waterfalls. What a incredible experience! Then we went on to see the falls from every other way possible (except ziplining - we unfortunately could not fit that in). We did the 4D experience, went behind the falls, and went on to a boat right up to the falls. And got soaking wet.

After drying off we went to a Brazilian Steakhouse for dinner where they come around with a bunch of different meats on sticks and carve it onto your plate.

Now I am off to another area of the province for some more adventures...

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Culinary Exchange - Day Six

Today was a long and busy day. We got up early to go to a nearby Farmer's Market. Without totally thinking this through - we wore our chef whites to the market, and immediately became celebrities and the talk of the town. After the market we headed to a local famous tv food network chef's house. She prepared brunch for us. testing out new baked good recipes for her upcoming holiday cookbook. We even got a tour of her kitchen, and she was happy to give us a lot of advice.

Then we had a big day at the Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration event. We went to the school and packed up all our prep from the day before - all of the food and equipment we would need to pull off this event off-site. We had a refrigerated box truck, a catering truck, and a tent in a parking lot with folding tables to pull this off. The majority of the prep had to have been done in advance as we had very limited space, utilities, and equipment. The plates also had to come together easily and quickly, and be stable as servers had to walk about 200 meters across grass to deliver food.

The menu was a six course meal, each course pairing well with a chardonnay wine. Each course was also designed and prepared by a different chef/winery team in the area. So we had a team of about twenty chef in total - which was a lot of hands for plating assembly-line style, but also left a lot of opportunity for head-butting. It was unwrapping, polishing, stacking, and laying out thousands of plates, cutlery, and more. But once the meal began, the execution and service just flew by!

We finished up late in the night, then got together as a group to unwind.
Farmers Market

Brunch at the celebrity chef's house

chardonnay festival

Dinner tables

Salad course

Dessert platter

Friday, July 21, 2017

Culinary Exchange - Day Five

Today was a bit quieter of a day, but no shorter and certainly no less exciting. We just spend all morning and part of the afternoon doing our preps for the "Cool Climate Chardonnay" dinner that is taking place tomorrow evening as part of this big event celebrating wines, specifically chardonnays. The dinner is a plated dinner for 900 people and will take place outside in the vineyard; featuring multiple courses from local chefs. So today we were completing all the preps for an appetizer - cold smoked rainbow trout, hot smoked white fish rilette, salad, pickled baby vegetables, crackers, and a mousseline sauce.

After working, we headed to a cured meat company for a tour, then had a fun evening out in the city going to laser tag, an IMAX movie, a haunted house, and out to dinner.
pickles, pickles, pickles

curing pork
out in the city

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Culinary Exchange - Day Four

What's better than an early morning breakfast of rich chocolate truffles along with some pastries and cappucinos? Nothing, so we headed out at 7am to a little cakery and candy shop owned by a really friendly family who fed us the best chocolate truffles ever. 

Then we drove a few hours (during which I did manage to nap even after all that chocolate). We toured a goat cheese plant and had a tasting of 10 different goat cheese products. Then we went to a nearby restaurant for a buffet-style lunch, where all of the dishes also incorporated goat cheese. Then onto an actual goat farm where the goat milk comes from. I absolutely love baby goats, they are the cutest things ever so I really enjoyed this part of the day. It was great to actually follow the cheese making process, from where the milk is collected, the cheese is made and packaged, and where it is used in local restaurants.

We drove back into the city during which I napped again. We stopped at a small pizzeria where we took over the kitchen and had a lesson on how to make really great ricotta gnocchi. On the way back from dinner we stopped for some really great gelato. 
goat cheese tasting

cute goat

cherries on the farm

gnocchi from scratch

chocolate gelato

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Culinary Exchange - Day Three

pig at the farm
Today began with an early morning breakfast at a local bakery, owned by the instructor of our sugar workshop yesterday. Breakfast was an impressive array of muffins, cakes, squares, croissants, and biscuits, along with quiche, hard-boiled eggs, cold meats, fresh fruit, yogurt and granola, and orange juice.

baby goats
On to a farm that raises sheep, chickens, and pigs. Everything about this farm is how you would want it - small-scale, free-range, organic, happy animals. It is obvious the farm owners really do care about their animals and have done a lot of research and trial and error to use the best possible techniques with the well-being of the animals as their primary concern. Right down to choosing to drive a little extra distance in order to take the animals to a better butchery. The sheep are transferred to a new pasture daily, the chickens are never fed grain, and the pigs are free to roam around the woods and mud and into their little hut.

From there we went to vineyard #1 for lunch, wine tastings, and a tour of the kitchen. Lunch was fishcakes paired with a chardonnay, and a main course of confit chicken leg and breast, fresh summer vegetables, mint pea puree, quinoa sunflower seed pilaf, and jus paired with a rose, and a cake doughnut with ginger honey ice cream, blueberry compote, and lemon anglaise served with a sweet dessert Riesling. 

On to vineyard #2 for a tour of the facilitates.
On to vineyard #3 for a tour and a VIP tasting session.
Explored the small town square of shops for an hour.

fish cake
On to vineyard #4 for dinner and wine. Dinner was all family style, beginning with appetizers of polenta fries, risotto balls, focaccia bread, octopus salad, and a charcuterie boards. This was followed by pizzas of various flavors, then a dessert of little churros, chocolate coffee cream, lemon curd, fresh berries, and ice cream.

chicken plate

doughnut dessert

VIP wine tasting

rows upon rows of grapes

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Culinary Exchange - Day Two

sticky buns!!!
The day began very bright and early with a quick breakfast, then heading into the bakeshop for a bread-making and sugar work workshop. We spent the day at the local culinary college, first learning all the insider details on how to make make Artisan pear walnut breads and caramel pecan cinnamon sticky buns. We also learned how to make poured sugar, pulled, sugar, and blown sugar and how to transform these into some amazing sugar garnishes. 

We had lunch in the college's restaurant - really good food prepared by culinary students. A roasted beet salad with dresses arugula, goat cheese, golden beet chip, and candied walnuts to start, with a choice of: crispy chicken sandwich on a fresh baked milk bun, chiptle aioli, white cheddar, lettuce, tomato, lemon thyme fries, triple crunch aioli

beef burger  on a fresh baked milk bun, merlot chutey, white cheddar, lettuce, pickled cucumber, lemon thyme fries, triple crunch aioli

turkey burger on a fresh baked milk bun, lettuce, lemon feta mayo, lemon thyme fries, triple crunch aioli

crispy tempura fried tofu, Korean bbq sauce, cocnut basmati rice, stir fried bok choy, broccoli, shitakes, red pepper kimchi.

Next, onto the college's brewery, where students brew beer to sell at the college, for a tour and a tasting. A tour of the greenhouses and gardens which grow some produce, herbs and flowers used in the restaurant. We even got to plant out own mini pots of herbs. And onto the college's winery for a tour, walk through the vineyards, tastings, and a fun little competition of crushing grapes the old fashioned way - with our feet. 

Finally, we ended our dinner with a beautiful multi-course meal. A charcuterie board with cured meats, deep-fried head cheese, fried perch, pickles, homemade bread and butter, a quinoa salad with beet hummus and tempura fried apple. Next a pasta and pesto dish. A main course of 45 day dry-aged beef with potato, sauce bordelaise, brown butter hollandaise, and some vegetables. To finish off a dessert of lemon tart, passionfruit cake, and strawberry kiwi sorbet. 

Goat Cheese Salad

crushing grapes






Culinary Exchange - Day One

Day One on the exchange was mostly a day of travelling, as junior chefs from across the coutry came together to meet in one location. We were all met at the airport in the afternoon, drove for about two hours, and checked into our hotel.

The only real event of the day was dinner - we went to a small winery (as we are in wine country here). We got a tour of the facility, the cellar, the shop. Then we had a charcuterie board and tastings of five wines (three white, one rose, one red). Next we had the opportunity to purchase wines. Dinner was served al fresco on the patio and consisted of a family-style, pass it along the table meal, so the ten of us could become good friends.

We had: smoked corn salad, braised red cabbage, beef brisket, barbecue chicken, bbq ribs, fresh ciabatta bread, salsa verde, horseradish aioli, fries, and homemade hot sauce. For dessert we had strawberry rhubarb pie with homemade vanilla rum ice cream.

The staff at the winery were extremely accommodating (they opened on a Monday just for our group), friendly, and helpful. They let us sample as many wines as we wished, made suggestions, and poured the spirits freely! 
The Winery

Barrels of wine

More barrels 

charcuterie board + wine tasting

family-style bbq dinner

strawberry rhubarb pie and vanilla rum ice cream