Wednesday, June 10, 2009

8th annual indulgence - edmonton, ab

Where to begin. Over the past couple of months I heard a bit of talk in the city about something called Indulgence. Having no idea about what to expect or even what happens at this event, made for a strange decision. The cost to stop in was $60, which left me wondering what kind of food and experience would I be in for...and would it be worth it?

This is the 8th year for Indulgence, which is labeled as - a canadian epic of food and wine. Put on by Slow Food Edmonton, with all proceeds going to the Junior League of Edmonton, it is a chance to feast on local goodies prepared by some of the city's best culinary teams. While hemming and hawing about the event, I received an email from Sharon over at Only Here for the Food, which finally convinced me to take the plunge.

The event, which sells out regularly, was so lined up when we arrived that it was a game in itself to find the end of the line. Thankfully enough volunteers were stationed at the welcome table to move everyone along a nice pace. To my delight I turned around in line to find Sharon and her guest standing right behind me! Even though I've only been writing for a few months, it's a great pleasure to see fellow bloggers out and about. We received a complementary wine glass, wine glass holder, and wooden fork as we entered the ballroom.

The Indulgence booklet described what each station offered and provided the 'food stubs' we would trade in for our food. Along with the food at each location, we found wine pairings as well. I suppose we could have looked through the book and decided on how to conquer all the dishes, but in the initial rush we just started and kept moving at random. Here are the goods.

First up was Suede Lounge - Alpaca with Chimichurri. It was a good starter. I loved the added dimension brought by the sauce, but didn't pick up anything special with the Alpaca. Reminded me of tender roast beef.

Next was Red Ox Inn - Waskwei Venison Cassoulet. The venison was done nicely, but we found the beans on the hard side, and I personally didn't get anything from the polenta. It didn't help that I decided it was cornbread in my head while waiting in line.

Third up was Lux steakhouse + bar's rendition of shepherd's pie - Wagyu Beef, Edamame Beans, Celeriac Puree, Saffron Onion Crisps. Very moist and delicious. A solid offering but not the easiest to consume.

Flavours Modern Bistro was next up with - Elk Tartines. The elk was super tender. I love when game meat is cooked very briefly. The (I think) saskatoon berry reduction was a nice touch, and it all sat on a slice of butter bread.

Dish five was Cafe de Ville's - Fairwinds Farm Goat Cheese, Lobster Mushroom and Leek Tart with a Riesling Reduction. My least favorite dish of the evening and the only one I didn't finish.

While not in the program, I believe this next dish was from Characters Fine Dining - Lamb kabob on a bed of squash puree and beluga lentils. The squash and lentils were excellent, and while the flavor came through, we all found the lamb tough. Easily the least prepared protein of the evening. As I tend to slowly braise lamb, I couldn't help but think the quick table side grilling is what hurt the most.

After the above let down, it was over to The Bothy Wine and Whiskey Bar to taste their - Irving's Farm Berkshire Pork Belly with Truffled Apple Salad. Pork belly is fantastic to begin with and this dish didn't let me down. I treated the whole package like a taco and enjoyed all aspects. Although it did leave me wanted a tortilla!

Dish eight was courtesy of Culina Highlands - Four Whistle Farms Lamb Koftas Wrapped in Eggplant with Creamy Dill Horseradish Sauce. A juicy, succulent and wonderful dish.

The Blue Pear was up next with their Turkey Tannato - Poached Ariana's Farm Fresh Turkey with tuna/anchovy mayonnaise, capers and parsley. This was the least impressive looking dish in my eyes, as it seemed like deli turkey meat, swimming in mayonnaise. I liked the concept and flavours, but..tough call in my eyes.

The Harvest Room provided dish ten - Green Eggs and Ham Duck Leg Confit served with Baby White Almond Waffle Potatoes on Micro Sprouts in a Basil Aioli. Great concept again, but I felt the duck was lost sandwiched between it's potato layers. The non-duck eater with us proclaimed this delicious as it wasn't possible to taste the duck. Go figure!

Next up was Madison's Grill with Spring Creek Ranch Natural Beef Flank Steak with a blistered Gull Valley Tomato and Olive Relish, Heritage Greens in a Fairwinds Goat Cheese Vinaigrette on a Corn Tuile. A fabulous plate, this may have taken top spot for me. The meat was perfectly cooked and it was a taste explosion!

After all this meat, it was nice to sample something sweet from The Westin Edmonton - Original Apple Compote with Pecan Nuts, Cinnamon Infused Honey, Sultanas and Molsses accompanied with Highwood Crossing Organic Flax Seed Mufin. A nice interlude piece. Not overly sweet and the muffin had great texture.

Right back into the heavy stuff was Botanica's - Carmen Creek Bison Sliders with Red Onion Confit and Gorgonzola Cheese. An amazing slider with both the onion and cheese guaranteeing you wouldn't be biting into a dry burger. One of my top picks. At this point, I'm starting to hit the food wall...must prevail.

Mexco Lindo was situated next in my path and they offered - Chicken Pibil. It was served in a nice little wafer/cracker type cup. The tasty chicken offered just a hint of heat, and you could also add a spoonful of salsa.

Leva was showcasing their - Fresh Petal Sorbet with Black Pansy Syrup. An extremely refreshing dish, and something I wish I would have had earlier to cleanse my taste buds. But that is the life of the party!

Whoa..back to back desserts you say. Next up was Kerstin's Chocolates and their Lola Canola Honey Cocoa Wafer. The chocolate was great but I'm not a big fan of fruit flavours (cherry/orange/raspberry) mixed in with my chocolate. I prefer to have straight chocolate as opposed to those chocolate oranges at Christmas and I always leave the berry/chocolate pieces for others in the Pot o' Gold boxes.

The evening left me with a tummy full of delicious food and great memories. We all agreed the night was a success and it made me really proud of the Edmonton 'food scene'. I think if anything, they needed to add more bistro tables for eating. I found a fair amount of bumping around which, while ingenious, made the wine glass holder quite awkward. Eventually it found my back pocket.

The wine selections looked quite diverse with every grape under the sun represented, but I wasn't indulging on this particular evening so I can't say much about the products. Liquor Select was on site offering a 10% discount for all wines purchased that night, which I thought was a great touch.

It was also great to stand in line with Marianne and Zed at one point and catch up briefly. Like Marianne mentioned, it wasn't the most convenient place for those with limited means of transportation. Something they could improve for sure. To next year for sure!


Sharon said...

I liked your systematic review of the dishes! Good to see those plates that I missed, too.

Sarah said...


I forgot when this was happening. Looks delicious!

Chris said...

It was delicious Sarah. And fabulous. And Wonderful. And Filling..oh wait..I'll stop now.

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