Sometimes, I wonder if I was slapped in the face, repeatedly, with the lucky branch when I was younger. That’s the only reasonable explanation I give myself for being invited to certain events. The dinner I had at Rouge this past week was one of those experiences.
Visa Infinite hosts various dining events throughout the year in Calgary. Restaurants and themes always vary (i.e. Top Chef Canada dinner at Charcut, Model Milk’s executive chef, Justin Laboe and Vancouver chef Lee Cooper of Vancouver’s L’Abattoir, etc…), but the quality is always top notch.
On this particular evening, Rouge hosted a collaborative dinner between executive chef Michael Dekker and Jonathan Gushue (executive chef of Langdon Hall in Cambridge, Ontario). With nine course total (if you count the palate cleanser), I knew I was in for a hell of a ride.
Rouge owner, Paul Rogalski, served as the host for the evening, making his way to each table, introducing himself and chatting a bit about the food we were about to experience. The vagueness of the printed menu in front of me left room for curiosity to grow.
Instead of printing the menu with full descriptions like (my imaginative example) ‘Poached Virgin Quail Breast with Blackberry Reindeer Foam and Essence of Gold’, each course was simply listed as it’s main ingredient (i.e. scallops, foie gras, beef, etc…).
When Paul came around to our table, he explained that with each course we’d get to put out our best guess as to what we were eating. So, kind of like a competition, but you get to keep on eating the prize. Needless to say, I was totally down for this.
Now, I won’t list off every single course to you, which even included a cheddar cheese tasting in-between our main dish and dessert (sometimes ‘all you need is cheese‘ before dessert right?), but here are some of the highlights of what we enjoyed during the collaborative dinner at Rouge…
Arctic Char with sea buckthorn berries in nori broth…The nori broth was a safe bet, but my guess fell flat when I thought the char was poached…and, as for the sea buckthorn berries, well now I know what they are!
Foie Gras and Pear Terrine with bee pollen and foie profiterole. I guessed ‘apple’ was the sweetness layered in-between the foie in the terrine. Damn, so close…
Sweetbreads Bratwurst on top of homemade sauerkraut, double smoked bacon and pesto…I guessed ‘kielbasa’! Damn, so close!
Crab Apple beverage with accompanying sorbet…Quite contrary to my guess of ‘Roasted lamb shank consume and pigeon blood sorbet’. Well, you can’t win ‘em all folks!
Finally, the dessert…A white chocolate brownie topped with chocolate and homemade marshmallow, which had a neopolitan kind of layering to it. I think I saw a few people at the table licking the glasses clean, but let’s keep that on the down low.
After the dinner service had concluded, both Chef Dekker and Gushue came by each table to hear any guesses and fill all the attendees in on what they had tasted throughout the evening. Although most of my guesses were not exactly on the mark, I really loved the opportunity to try and utilize my palate to identify each bite instead of having our food, for lack of a better word, spelled out for us on our menu. It also reminded me that, in this massive culinary world, I still have a lot to learn!
In honour of having this amazing dining experience, I want to pay it forward, and spoil a couple people too, by giving away a pair of tickets to Winefest next Saturday, February 25th (worth a total of $150). The Winefest will feature 236 wines from over 57 different wineries! Sounds like a blast, right? I thought so.
To enter to win the pair of tickets, either leave a comment on this post about my dinner at Rouge or share the link to this piece on Twitter, mentioning both Rouge (@rougecal) and Winefest (@winefest). On Monday, February 20th, I’ll randomly choose the winner from all entries!
*Note: You must be of legal drinking age (hopefully that’s obvious), the two tickets are only valid for attendance at Winefest on Saturday, February 25th, from 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. and are non-transferable. The winner must pick up their tickets from will-call at the Winefest event location.
- The Canadian Food Experience Project: Seabuckthorn Berry and Shallot Vinaigrette
- Top Chef Canada: Taking The Challenge Home, Week Twelve
- Top Chef Canada: Taking The Challenge Home, Week 11 (and a contest!)
- Sweet And Spicy Udon Noodles
- Top Chef Canada: Taking The Challenge Home, Week 10
- Appetizers & Co.
- Ask Dan
- Calgary & Area
- Monday Night Supper Club
- Season 2
- Season 3
- Something Sweet
- Top Chef Canada: Taking The Challenge Home
- United States