Last weekend, I attended a wonderful culinary event in Brandon, Manitoba hosted by Manitoba Canola Growers. Brandon is about a 2 hour drive west of Winnipeg. Although it isn’t very far from where I live, I hadn’t been to the city in over 15 years. I was very excited to get reacquainted with Brandon and learn more about a wonderful local agricultural association.
This particular event that I was invited to was located at the Grey Owl Restaurant, which is organized by Manitoba Institute of Culinary Arts program. The Grey Owl Restaurant is actually only open for a four-week period where students from Assiniboine Community College’s Culinary Arts program create a delicious fine dining experience and menu to the public. After learning that reservations to the Grey Owl sell out in minutes, I felt extremely lucky and honoured to be a part of this event. I also felt a sense of nostalgia as well. When I went back to school about 10 years ago to take Hospitality and Tourism Management, I too experienced working in a fine dining restaurant with the Culinary Arts students at Red River College. It was such a fun experience, and seeing the students in Brandon hosting us brought back a lot of fabulous memories of my own.
I also must mention that the food was to die for! These students are extremely talented. Here are a few pictures that I captured from the awesome event:
The gorgeous building where the Grey Owl restaurant resides.
Before we headed into the dining room, we experienced the Manitoba Canola Growers Culinary Theatre. It is a cutting edge facility that combines media production and culinary classes to for college students. I would kill for this kitchen!
We then took a tour of the actual kitchen facility.
This student is working with sugar to create gorgeous accents for our dessert!
We were also able to nibble on some delicious homemade bread and infused oils before we made our way into the dining area.
This was my appetizer – Charcuterie and Cheese Board. There was a delicious assortment of cured meats, fine cheeses, preserves, chutney and pickled vegetables.
I also have to say that I was at the “fun table”. I dined with 5 fascinating and fun individuals. One of which ordered Pan Seared Scallops and Tiger Prawns, which of course they came to our table to flambé.
I ordered the Manitoba Beef Monter au Beurre, which was an 8 oz. flame broiled classic center cut tenderloin, topped with shiraz thyme butter and served with beets and asparagus.
It was absolutely delicious! I had to remind myself that students, clearly younger than me, were making all this amazing food! I was so impressed.
And of course I had to have dessert. This was the best cheesecake I have ever had. It was a Turtle Cheesecake with pecans, gooey caramel and sinful chocolate. I was so full that I was only able to eat half and took the rest home with me.
Also, remember the sugar that the student was working on in the earlier picture? That piece on top of my cheesecake is his finished product. Just gorgeous.
Not only did I have a wonderful culinary experience, I also learned a great deal about Manitoba Canola Growers and their fantastic partnerships with Agriculture in the Classroom. They are an organization that works with schools to promote awareness and understanding of agriculture industry careers to students.
Manitoba Canola Growers have a great interactive website that features a ton of delicious recipes and lifestyle tips. I decided to adapt this Honey Drizzled Baked Blueberry Bannock from their website. Bannock is a variety of quick flat bread. Most of the time, it is fried on the stovetop but this recipe is baked to create more of a lighter, scone-like texture. This recipe doesn’t have any sugar in it, so I decided to drizzle some honey over them to give them a little sweetness.
You will need:
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
2 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp canola oil
4 tbsp liquid honey
In a large bowl, gently combine both flours, blueberries, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
Pour milk and water to your dry ingredients.
Next, pour in Canola oil.
Using your hands, moisten all the ingredients, handling the dough as little as possible.
Sprinkle the counter with a small amount of flour and pour dough out of your bowl onto the counter.
Using hands form a disc about 1/2 inch thick and about 9-10 inches in diameter.
Cut dough into 8 pieces.
Place slices onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
Bake in a 400 degree fahrenheit oven for 15-20 minutes, or until your bannock is golden brown in colour.
Remove from baking sheet and cool completely on a wire rack.
Serve on a plate and drizzle with honey.
Recipe adapted from: Manitoba Canola Growers