It’s been almost two months now since the premiere of Top Chef Canada season 3. In total, we’ve now seen eight competitors leave the competition. Whether it was Kayla‘s self-sacrifice orDan Hudson’s failed shortbread cookie, it’s never nice to see a talented Canadian chef go home.
Now, since I’m Calgary-based and all, you can imagine the raincloud over my head this past week after watching Chris Shaften get the axe in the previous episode. With three chefs on the show, this has been Calgary’s largest representation in the history of the series, so it was definitely sad to see one of them pack their knives up. In honour of Shaften’s departure, I only ate picklewichs for the past week. That’s Canada’s new national dish to me, pal!
When it came time to vote, I’m sure it will come as no surprise that Nicole Gomes’ Beaver Balls swept the polls. If her viewing party was any indication, I’m assuming that the majority of Canada laughed uproariously at her candid interview regarding the inventive dish and David Rocco andMark McEwan’s innuendo-filled commentary.
Now, I would be lying if I didn’t rack my brain for the majority of the week, thinking of the best possible ‘ball’ references to make. There were some funny ones, some predictable ones, and some just plain inappropriate ones that I will not bore you with today.
This time around for Taking the Challenge Home, I may have cheated slightly and sought a bit of advice from Nicole. Before you start pointing fingers and saying, “Hey, that guy has bad hair!” or more relative things like, “Hey Dan, you’re not supposed to do that!” let me just clarify that I was interviewing her for a separate article and it just came up in casual conversation.
After our chat, I swung by The Calgary Farmers’ Market for some ‘Beaver Ball’ ingredients. I considered trying to source some actual beaver meat, but was unsure of the legalities surrounding that, so decided against it. Probably for the best, I think beavers are more fat than meat anyway…
When the sun hits, it’s time for something refreshing. I fell in love with granitas a while back. They are stupid easy to make and always impress people. From wine and vodka, to prosecco and beer, there is a whole mix of things you can throw into a granita. Since I am in love with cold beer on a hot summer day, I decided to turn on into a dessert.
The fresh rosemary and lemon zest add a nice brightness to this chilly dessert, tasting somewhat like a boozy iced tea…not to be confused with a Long Island Iced Tea…I think only 18 year olds drink those things, right?
Typically, I take a break from soups when spring rolls around. That being said, we have had some pretty sub-par weather here in Calgary, so soup is still hitting the spot even though May is just around the corner. But once it warms up, I’m kicking soup to the curb!
This third season of Top Chef Canada has been wicked so far and last week’s episode was the most fantastic one yet. From Shereen’s food auction with Chris’ $36 kale and mushrooms (yikes!), to Lisa Ray’s genuine surprise party and guest judge Andrea Nicholson, it was the best hour a guy could ask for on a Monday night.
Canadians must really love their fried foods. So far, frying has been involved in three of the five dishes that I’ve been voted to recreate in the past month and a half. First, there was that crispy fried chicken in week one, and then two weeks ago, I was battering and frying bacon and beans. Now it’s time to make spring rolls! Perhaps I should consider investing in a forty litre vat of Canola oil?
I scampered around the Calgary Farmers’ Market on Friday morning in nothing but a t-shirt (and pants, of course), which was exciting seeing as we’ve had hardly any warm weather in the past month here in Calgary. Aside from some miscellaneous items, the bulk of my ingredients for the week were shellfish; so I grabbed a lovely, fresh variety from Blu Seafood and made my way back home in my t-shirt hoping that the sun would tan my pasty, winter white skin.
When I arrived back in Calgary from my adventures in Australia and New Zealand, I immediately took to eating. Not that I didn’t eat a lot while I was traveling, we humans need to eat of course, but in the month and a half I was away, five new restaurants had opened up. Crazy!
A transformation of space and taste is always expected when a new restaurant opens in the place of an old establishment but looking at the newly opened MARKET restaurant, you would never know that it had a previous life as The Yardhouse bar.
The interiors in MARKET are visually divided, with black floors and walls highlighting a bar area covered in a funky chalk mural, while whitewashed walls pull your sight straight back to the open kitchen. Living orbs hanging above MARKET’s long, tiled bar are the real design highlight in the space. Small living plants hang from the roof while bartenders shake, stir and pour drinks for patrons.
MARKET dishes have a sort of rustic elegance. Though the offerings change often — note the ‘print date’ on the top corner of the menu — you should cross your fingers that the bison tartar with flank jerky and pickled shallots as well as the Pork Salad with kale, pork shoulder, bacon, pig ears and shaved gouda both grace the menu when you arrive.
Alright, so I don’t normally cook on the road, but sometimes life just doesn’t go your way. As luck would have it, I had to jet set off to Toronto for a national food bloggers conference this past weekend which happened to coincide to my Top Chef Canada: Taking The Challenge Home cooking days. I wasn’t quite sure where I would end up cooking, but knew I had to find a space somehow. Traveling with produce was definitely a first for me, which may seem a bit strange, but it would have been even stranger had I chosen to travel across Canada with cuts of meat in my suitcase.
I went by The Calgary Farmers’ Market and secured the heartiest greens and fresh vegetables I could find that would make a trip safely to Ontario and last a few days while I figured out a location to whip up my recreation, Rory’s Corn Fricassee. My weekend conference was actually located just outside of Toronto at the Hockley Valley Resort where, oddly enough, Top Chef Canada season one filmed its finale. The more you know.