Wow, it has been forever since I wrote up a little recap of our Monday Night Supper Club get-togethers. This past Monday, we all congregated at my friend Michelle’s house to have our second annual clambake. Last August, a mountain of seafood was feasted on by about fourteen of us and I’ve been craving a round two ever since.
We don’t have a traditional clambake, but, rather, use a one pot cooking method (last year’s clambake, pictured left).
Bon Appetit magazine rocks my life, so when I saw this amazing recipe for a one pot clambake in an issue last summer, I called my supper club friends and said: “That’s it! We’re going to have a god damn clambake!”
This recipe is super simple, it just involves layering the ingredients in a massive, leaving various lengths of cooking time in-between and within 45 minutes, you have the most gigantic seafood feast. Fit even for a king, perhaps…
My friend, Eric Giesbrecht, runs Meta4Foods which supplies top notch seafood to most of Calgary’s top restaurants, so I knew he could set me up with all of the shellfish I required.
I got ahold of some handsome looking oysters, mussels and manila clams from Eric. Since he flies most of his seafood in fresh the day of (thumbs up!), I was not lucky enough to land on one of his lobster delivery days so I grabbed a handful of lively lobsters from Boyd’s Seafood the afternoon of the clambake instead.
Once people started arriving for the dinner, I made everyone learn to shuck an oyster or two. I mean, I love my friends, but I don’t love them enough to shuck thirty six oysters all by myself! Does that make me a shucking asshole? Get it? I couldn’t help myself…
I also made a quick, mildly spicy mignonette made of balsamic vinegar, minced red onions and sambal oleok to top the oysters with which went over nicely.
When I’m serving oysters for a dinner party or gathering, I like to get a decent layer of ice in a large serving platter, then sprinkle some salt all over the ice to make it extra cool (like temperature-wise, not social status), then lay the shucked oysters on top.
I love Calgary, I really do, but sometimes a quick trip to the mountains can clear your head and provide you with that feeling that is so rare to find in the hecticness that is downtown life: Relaxation.
Last month, Casel Marché and Cassis Bistro graciously hosted a Monday night potluck event for us last month, they also created a little contest to go along with the food. The group voted for their favourite dish of the evening and the creator of that dish would win a weekend stay in Canmore. Sweet! Sadly, I did not win, but luckily, the winner, Chelsea K., invited some of us to come enjoy the weekend in Canmore with her!
Since so many of us are used to hectic night lives, we decided to keep things low key, just staying in, talking, occasionally frequently laughing and playing board games.
One of the board games in particular, Settlers of Catan, which Mitchell brought, was new to most of the group. I could tell they were skeptical, Mike especially, about the game and how nerdy it might be, but everyone was soon paired up, plotting and strategizing against each other. Yes, it soon became a board game blood bath between teams of nerds.
On Saturday morning we went for brunch at Chez Francois, which was not the tastiest breakfast food I’ve ever had, but provided us with some much needed greasy fried goodness.
Next, we headed over to Communitea, which is probably the cutest little cafe that I’ve seen in a long time (sorry Higher Ground, I still love you too!).
They had a staggering selection of teas, about eighty I believe, and a food menu that was gluten-free and vegan friendly. Hippies rejoice!
Jokes aside, it was a really adorable space and I will definitely be making a point of coming back here next time I’m in Canmore. And, yes, this picture below is of myself, wearing a tea cozy…and Lori’s glasses…in Communitea…and, no, I had not been drinking.
I know, right? Nice moustache…
Once we’d had our caffeine fix, we strolled the main street, popping in and out of shops with names like ‘Arty Farty‘ and ‘Gingerella‘, but as charming as these places were, nothing could compare to a run-in with Santa Claus and his motorcycle.
Apparently the reindeer were too hungover to make a public appearance this weekend, so Santa was out buzzing around town on a two-wheeler. He graciously posed for a picture with Lori, then went on his merry way.
After heading back to the condo, we took a quick dip in the hot tub, did some yoga (lesson courtesy of Jacinthe) and went to buy some groceries for supper.
Jacinthe and I prepared dinner in the kitchen, while Chelsea K., Sarah, Mike and Jacqueline built a gingerbread house for dessert. It was a kit with instructions, so I knew they’d be fine unsupervised.
I have been on a few mountain getaway weekends before and I know that though the kitchens are generally well equipped with tools, they lack spices, oils, etc…that help make a great meal. Unlike my regular city self, I planned ahead and packed up a bag full of miscellaneous spices, vinegars, etc…to aid us in creating a feast fit for Sasquatch.
For starters, we dished out some lemon and white wine risotto topped with garlic butter shrimp.
For the main course, we served a simple roasted chicken (seasoned with Charcut’s top secret Alley Burger spice mix! Yes!), confit rutabagas, rosemary roasted butternut squash, braised kale and zucchini. A very rustic, hearty mountain feast indeed.
Following dinner, and demolition of freshly built gingerbread house (dessert), we busted out the board games for another night in. That evening’s game of Settlers of Catan took closer to three hours to complete. I think by the time winner had conquered, we were all too mentally exhausted to do anything else and just went to bed.
Sunday came so quickly and it was time to pack up and head back to Calgary. Feeling relaxed and refreshed, we grabbed one more drink to go from Communitea and got onto the highway. Every single time I drive away from the mountains I also think to myself that I don’t come visit them nearly enough as I should. This year, that shall change!
For now, I’m refuelled and ready to face another busy week. Can’t wait for the holiday parties to start, how about you?
(Note: All photos, aside from Lori with Santa, are courtesy of Mitchell and Chelsea K. Thank you both for capturing some great moments throughout the weekend!)
Twitter in attendance:
Ok, I just have to sneak these two shots in. If you can guess which ladies these are, you win a fantastic prize pack. (prize pack still TBD)
Last week the Monday Night Supper Club hosted a potluck Thanksgiving dinner. Thanksgiving is one of my favourite holidays: there’s no stress of gift giving, no time-consuming costume preparation, and no religious or somber overtones. It’s the time to celebrate a good harvest (admittedly I’ve never seen Co-op have a bad harvest), good food, and to be thankful for our friends and family.
Dan hosted nearly 20 people in his home, miraculously managing to give everyone space to prepare food and eat. The dishes included traditional Thanksgiving fare like potatoes, green beans, and cranberry sauce. Guests also experimented with unconventional dishes including Ashley K’s pumpkin risotto, Lori A’s Mexican soup, and Jacqueline T’s devilled eggs. The main course was a giant turducken prepared by Dan, providing enough meat to feed the entire group with leftovers. A vegetarian alternative of Tofurkey was served with vegan gravy. While not as popular as the Turducken, the tofurkey was surprisingly flavourful and was deemed “not bad” by meat enthusiasts.
The #yycMNSC crew eating and tweeting.
The meal concluded with a number of pies, including pear-berry and pumpkin pie from Jacinthe K. Finding room for dessert after gorging on eight servings of carbs took determination, but the pies were well worth it.
My personal thankful list: great friends, stretchy pants, and a reason to look forward to Mondays.
Pie (left), Caitlin Power (centre), and everyone’s favourite thanksgiving dish (right).
Dan C @dansgoodside : Turducken and homemade cranberry sauce
Chelsea K @chelscore: Tofurkey with vegan gravy
Sarah W @frecklesandash: Gluten-free stuffing made with wild rice
Brie B @brie_elise: Onion casserole
Lori A @designertweets: Spicy Mexican chicken soup
Rob M @rjmcleod : Stuffing/dressing
Jacqueline T: @jacquelintetyler: Devilled eggs
Ashley K @petitegourmet: Creamy pumpkin risotto with marscapone cheese
Drew B @dbeatsbeets: Bread
Jacinthe K @jacinthekoddo: A pear berry pie and a pumpkin pie
Jamie P @jamiepenno: Wine
Tym A @tymarmstrong : Roasted rosemary potatoes and yams
Vincci T @VincciT: Sweet potatoes with spiced maple pecans
Caitlin P @caitlin_power : Cheese and crackers
Dan c’s homemade cranberry sauce (left) and Brie B (right).
Sometimes this Monday Night Supper Club of mine likes to break the rules. Don’t tell anyone, but, sometimes, just sometimes, we like to go out together on nights other than Mondays. Blasphemous, I know…
When an interesting food-related event catches our eye, it’s hard to resist attending it. Such is the case with a documentary screening this Friday night. As most of you know, we are in the middle of the Calgary International Film Festival right now.
This year, they have a line-up of amazing films and the one in particular that caught my eye is ‘El Bulli: Cooking in Progress’. A documentary about an extremely well-known Spanish restaurant that stretches culinary limits in ways you can barely imagine. The force behind this restaurant is less kitchen and more laboratory. A cooking process which definitely has to be seen to be believed!
Sounds cool, right? I’m not THAT experimental in the kitchen, but culinary gastronomics definitely appeal to me; they’re very intriguing. Perhaps one day I’ll try to make a roast turkey caviar with whatever fancy machine it is that El Bulli uses. Until then, I’ll just watch them do the interesting stuff on the big screen.
It’s screening this Friday, September 30th, as well as Sunday, October 2nd. The Monday Night Supper Club crew will be viewing the film on Friday night, and then headed to JAROblue (JAROblue is a partner of CIFF, where you receive 20% off your bill with a festival ticket stub! Sweet!) afterwards for some post-film eats! As well, just because CIFF is so charming, they’ve provided me with a top secret code to save $2 on each ticket you buy to one of the screenings!
To save $2 on your purchase of tickets to this film, enter the code DOCS2011 at the payment screen.
Now, use that $2 and get some popcorn…That’s an order!
Guest blog post written by Jacqueline Tyler (Dan was on vacation during our outing in August!)
Firstly, I would like to advise that if you’re reading this Monday Night Supper Club post for a high-quality food review with endless details on ingredients and flavour combinatios, you will be disappointed. I’m neither a ‘foodie’ nor a ‘food writer’. (Dan talking here - Yes, she is a foodie!)
What I am is a girl who’s addicted to all things Calgary (affectionately abbreviated to #YYC) and everything local that makes it great. (myself, pictured left, with Mealan)
The more I explore in this city, the more I want to delve deeper into its fashion, beauty, art and lifestyle scene (and this includes local food). I’m committed to contributing my time and energy into any and all platforms that support local talent (and this includes showcasing our city’s finest chefs). What I like about this supper club is watching how ‘food’ has the ability to bring people together, stir conversation and compose local experiences (memories). I have a thing for experiences.
Ask yourself this: What’s your fondest memory of spending time with friends and family? Most can contest different experiences that include food. One of my favorite ‘food experiences’ was dinner on top of the Eiffel Tower. I remember every tiny detail of that meal and night- the people I was with, the conversation I had, the menu, the wine….everything. (Chelsea W and Tym, pictured left with our fantastic waiter!)
Food, it’s a powerful thing.
I think there’s something to be said about a group of professionals meeting on Twitter where most have little to no background in culinary, but are solely passionate about eating up Calgary’s food culture. (Jamie and Tilly, pictured right)
No matter how weird and wonderful…sitting over candlelight next to people you’re meeting for the first time at a local restaurant or sweating bullets trying to come up with a recipe to impress at a potluck dinner party, I dare you to consider the uncomfortable. There are plenty of amazing experiences to be had in this city. After all, you have chosen to live here, so why not live/eat it up?!
It’s because of the lovely invite from Colter Smith at Parkerhouse that this Monday Night Supper Club was able to visit the little undiscovered gem where ‘fine dining’ meets comfortable class. Located in the historic and beautiful Lougheed Block, the little New England black and white sidewalk tiles will surely invite you in. I’m one for decor and this place was absolutely gorgeous- especially our private dining room located downstairs.
We received a special four course tasting with wine pairing for $20 and then some of us ordered delicious mains off of the menu. The service was phenomenal and so was their attention to detail in the way they romanced each course. This was a very special treat for us MNSC-ers and some say one of the best yet (sorry Dan) my cheeks still hurt the following day from all our giggles. I would most certainly go back and I highly recommend you try out Parkerhouse real soon too. Thank you for having us!
A tartar trio: Bison, beef, tuna.
Snapper with pickled peppers and hickory foam.
Dave and Jamie laughing about something that’s apparently quite funny…
Pork belly tasting dish. Yum!
Mealan and Rob. Cute couple?
Espresso chocolate truffle with macerated blackberries.
Twitter in Attendance:
For the fifth installment of Monday Night Supper Club, we decided to head down to Sandy Beach Park for a potluck dinner. Sandy Beach Park is definitely a nice space, but I do have one mild bone to pick with it (listen up Nenshi!). It does not have any sand, nor a beach, which is generally comprised of sand. Nonetheless, ‘Sandy’ ‘Beach’ Park proved to be a great destination for our Monday night gathering. We’ve really been lucking out with the weather over the past few weeks (knock on wood) and this Monday was no different. There was nothing but sun in the sky!
We staked territory over a group of picnic tables and grills, then got to work unpacked and setting up all the food. As our dinner club has been growing in size, there’s always new individuals attending each week, so it’s always interesting to see how everyone interacts with each other. (Tammy, Jacinthe and Sarah pictured to the left)
Luckily, thus far, everyone seems to be getting along quite well, but I’m hoping for a massive Gossip Girl-esque cat fight soon. Nothing says ‘life of the party’ like some good old fashioned drama! Hopefully between the two Chelseas…Fingers crossed!
The dishes were nothing short of amazing tonight. Newcomer Mike (of Mike’s Bloggity Blog) brought some vodka soaked tomatoes (I liked to call them ‘deconstructed caesars’) and a balsamic watermelon and mint salad to the table. Funnily enough, I assumed I would also bring a watermelon and feta bites with a balsamic blueberry reduction, so we kind of had a watermelon overload on the table, but at least they weren’t exactly the same thing.
Continuing on the salad side of things, Jacinthe made an absolutely breathtaking salad using edible flowers, different greens and herbs all from her own home garden. The flowers, and their petals, were a little peppery and reminiscent of arugula. Her home-made vinaigrette was equally as impressive as the garden salad.
I just need to say salad a few more times…Sarah brought a green bean and potato salad, then Tym and Tammy both brought quinoa salads. Now the salad chapter of this story can finally come to a close.
For the main course offerings, Jacqueline brought some souvlaki chicken skewers, pitas, and appropriate toppings while Rob W barbecued some salmon. Although not pictured, Rob W seems to be growing a beard. He looked quite rugged and manly on this particular Monday.
The ‘gold star’ of the main dishes, would probably have to go to Mealan. She brought an array of sausages from a European meat shop near her home, as well as a platter of mustards, pickles, and sauces to accompany them. If the extensive lay-out of this wasn’t enough, she also made labels for each item on the tray. How Martha Stewart. I won’t lie, there may of been some phallic references/jokes happening during the barbecuing of these sausages, but that’s par for the course, right?
For desserts, Wendy (from Yelp!) brought some nanaimo bars, eclairs, and cream puffs. You know, healthy desserts! Rob M was too preoccupied ensuring that he had enough different colours of frisbees to make anything for the dinner, so he brought a pie from Safeway. Priorities Rob, priorities…
His pie was quickly put to shame, by Adria’s yogurt fruit cups made with baked wonton wrappers, and then, again, by Stephanie (fellow food blogger @globaldish) who created what was probably the most beautiful tart I have ever seen. Her blueberry buttermilk tart was really a work of art. I think everyone felt bad slicing into it, but it was equally as delicious, and simply had to be eaten. We should probably take a moment to look at it…
Amidst the prepping, grilling, eating, laughing, and talking, it seemed that we hardly noticed the sun swiftly disappearing from the sky. It’s funny, when summer begins there are so many long days, where the light lasts until after 10PM, but this Monday it was pretty much full-blown night by 9PM. Sigh, that means fall is approaching…So what do you do in the dark besides make s’mores (courtesy of Jacqueline)…No, not that! You play glow in the dark frisbee, of course!
Or maybe those are UFOs?
Here are some more pictures from our potluck night…
Digging into the food!
Sarah’s green bean and potato salad.
Mike’s vodka soaked tomatoes. I am trying this at home soon.
I’m pretty sure I told Jamie and Adria to pose casually…
Stephanie snapping a shot of the food. What can I say? It’s what we do.
Twitter in Attendance:
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- Top Chef Canada: Taking The Challenge Home, Week 6
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