Honey Drizzled Blueberry Bannock…and my evening at with Manitoba Canola Growers

Claudia's Cookbook - Honey Drizzled Baked Blueberry Bannock cover

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:

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The gorgeous building where the Grey Owl restaurant resides.

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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!

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We then took a tour of the actual kitchen facility.

This student is working with sugar to create gorgeous accents for our dessert!

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We were also able to nibble on some delicious homemade bread and infused oils before we made our way into the dining area.

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This was my appetizer – Charcuterie and Cheese Board. There was a delicious assortment of cured meats, fine cheeses, preserves, chutney and pickled vegetables.

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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.

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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.

image-4  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.

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Happy Anniversary Half Pints!

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending an event which celebrated the 6th anniversary of a fantastic local business. Half Pints Brewing Co. is a Winnipeg-based, independently-owned craft brewery. Its motto: Quality, not quantity.

In true style, the anniversary party was held at yet another terrific local business, Elements Restaurant. Each course in the 5-course meal was paired with a delicious Half Pints brew. We even had the opportunity to taste the rare Humulus Ludicrous, which is an intensely hoppy ale, and the brand new Noche De Los Alebrijes, a malty, chocolaty Oaxacan dark lager, which I surprisingly adored (I’m more of a wheat beer fan). Below are some of the food and beer pairings from the event:

Course #3 – Duck breast with Half Pints glaze, green beans, carrots, wild rice and a poached egg. It was paired with the delicious Humulus Ludicrous.

Course #4 – Lamb chop with grilled veggies, tomato and white beans. It was paired perfectly with the Noche De Los Alebrijes.

Course #5 – Almond Joy. It was made with a salted almond crust with decadent dark chocolate, topped with toasted coconut. It was paired with the robust Stir Stick Stout.

A huge congratulations to Half Pints on a successful event, and even more important, a successful 6 years!