Alder Room: Keeping it Close to Home with Regional Ingredients

As Food Day Canada approaches (August 5, 2017), I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to highlight Alder Room, which does a fantastic job of highlighting what we can do with regional ingredients. The tasting menu at Alder Room is regionally and seasonally inspired, so it will probably be a different experience each time you go. The Alder Room website describes itself as follows, so that gives you a hint of what’s to come.

Alder Room is a modern, experiential restaurant; a place to interact with regional, seasonal cuisine and those who prepare it. Our menu is inspired by our connection to the land.

Alder Room can host up to 12 diners at its single 7pm seating (Wednesday to Saturday) and we arrived for our reservation on a Friday night. We had a group of four and there was another couple there as well, bringing the total number of people in our seating to 6. This was certainly an intimate meal and it definitely helped that the initial bites were served in the front seating area, where we would be able to chat while having champagne and snacks.

Before diving into the snacks, Chef Ben Staley (owner of Alta and Alder Room) gave us an overview of Alder Room’s philosophy and noted that he uses regional ingredients from Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia. In particular, he indicated that he had a partnership with Vesta Gardens (in Thorhild) where they supply both his restaurants with produce. Each week, he heads out to Vesta Gardens to see what is available and tailors the Alder Room tasting menu to whatever is ripe and in-season.

Snacks (Clockwise L to R): Pickled carrots, Dried fermented peach, Quail egg rolled in vegetable ash, Fried sunchoke skin

Snacks (Clockwise L to R): Pickled carrots, Dried fermented peach, Quail egg rolled in vegetable ash, Fried sunchoke skin

Continue reading

Sunworks Farm Tour 2017

If you know me, or follow me via social media (or on the blog), you can probably tell that I’m a pretty solid city slicker, so any time I get an opportunity to check out a farm to see where my food comes from, I’m down. Several bloggers (obviously including yours truly) were invited to visit Sunworks Farm on a beautiful Sunday to see how their certified organic farm operates and as well as to partake in a dinner catered by Quarter Section Food Co. using Sunworks products.

Sheila, Isaac and Ron as they give us a quick intro to Sunworks Farm and what they're all about

Sheila, Isaac and Ron as they give us a quick intro to Sunworks Farm and what they’re all about

Continue reading

Throwback Thursday: Alberta Open Farm Days – Reclaim Urban Farm

Sometimes there are moments when procrastinating on a post for over a year can actually work in your favour. I went to Alberta Open Farm Days last year with Cindy at Reclaim Urban Farm and never got around to posting about my experience, so here’s a throwback Thursday in time for this year’s Alberta Open Farm Days happening this weekend. I didn’t have a lot of time to drive out to some of the farms outside of Edmonton, so I popped down to the St. John’s Institute to learn more about Reclaim Urban Farm instead. I had some knowledge about Reclaim Urban Farm based on their farmer’s market booth and from a few presentations/panels they have been on.

Alberta Open Farm Days

Alberta Open Farm Days

Reclaim Urban Farm

Reclaim Urban Farm

Continue reading

Vegan Buffet at Narayanni’s

A few weeks ago, A. and I popped down to Whyte Ave after work to check out the Tuesday vegan buffet at Narayanni‘s. I have walked past Narayanni’s several times in the past, but have never gone in, so this was a first for me! To be honest, I had assumed that all the Indian buffet places were the same, so once I found one that worked, I kind of stopped looking for new places – shame on me… So really, I need to thank Narayanni’s for reaching out and inviting A. and I in for lunch/dinner. Unfortunately, I work all the way across the river so lunch is not an option but if you’re on the south side, Narayanni’s does offer a lunch buffet, which includes soup, salad, chicken curry and three vegan dishes for $12! The lunch buffet runs Tuesday – Friday from 11:30 – 1:30, but word to the wise – it’s a cash only lunch, so make sure you hit up the ATM before going.

Narayanni's

Narayanni’s

Continue reading

Get Yourself to Brunch at Get Cooking

2016 is the year of brunches for me as I have been hitting up several brunch spots over the first quarter of the year! At the end of February, I was invited to check out the Get Cooking Brunch Pop-Up series and *spoiler alert* it was a delectable feast! My pal Nancy and I rolled in to the Get Cooking studios and were seated at a communal table with several others and (soon) greeted with never ending cups of coffee. One thing that I really loved was the attention to detail and care as the Get Cooking team used locally roasted Iconoclast coffee (in a French press no less!) and offered containers of warm milk for your coffee… I don’t even do that at home!

Brunch setting with a (soon to be) never empty coffee cup

Brunch setting with a (soon to be) never empty coffee cup

In addition to the coffee, there were these bowls filled with beautifully baked bread… Even though I knew there would be a lot of food coming, I couldn’t resist the carb-y goodness in front of me and had a slice or two… possibly three?

Bread

Bread… so much bread

Speaking of carbs, these scones made by the Get Cooking team were so so good. They play with different flavours every brunch, but I zoned out once I heard there were homemade scone and forgot to write down this pop-up’s flavour (sorry friends!). These were served with saskatoon berry jam and whipped cream – the whipped cream was so much better than the kind I make using grocery store cream and I think this is the difference between using a super good quality whipping cream versus the regular stuff in store. These scones were so delightful and a great “official” start to brunch!

Scones with whipped cream and Saskatoon berry jam

Scones with whipped cream and Saskatoon berry jam

Apparently European style brunches, which the Get Cooking brunch is modeled after also starts with charcuterie – and the Get Cooking team certainly did not skimp on the meat and cheese! I love charcuterie and this did not disappoint with the smoked duck being the highlight of the board for me.

Charcuterie board with liverwurst, duck, and an assortment of cured meats.

Charcuterie board with liverwurst, duck, and an assortment of cured meats

Cheese board!

Cheese board!

Starting "small" with a taste of everything...

Starting “small” with a taste of everything…

In addition to the coffee, Get Cooking also dished up a brunch cocktail made with pineapple infused rum, almond syrup, sumac, cucumber, mint and berries. There was a large punch bowl placed on the table, but unfortunately, there wasn’t quite enough for everyone to get a full glass. Our end of the table had a little bit less but it was probably not a bad thing as this cocktail was quite strong – that or we just didn’t give the bowl a good enough stir. The flavours of the cocktail were very garden party like, which worked very well for brunch.

Cocktail made with pineapple infused rum, almond syrup, sumac, cucumber, mint and berries.

Cocktail made with pineapple infused rum, almond syrup, sumac, cucumber, mint and berries

Following the cold dishes/buffet of scones and charcuterie, Chef Doreen Prei started dishing out the hot dishes and this first dish was an eye-opening one for me. I am not usually a fan of oatmeal and/or steel cut oats as I find the texture not to my liking, but Chef Doreen definitely changed my mind. The Gold Forest Grains steel cut oats with pistachios, blueberries, sauteed chorizo topped with whipped cream and chorizo oil had so many different textures and flavours that I couldn’t stop eating it. The idea of chorizo and whipped cream seems kind of weird but when you mix everything together into a single bite, it was savory and slightly sweet and just an explosion of flavour!

Gold Forest Grains Steel Cut Oats with pistachios, blueberries, sauteed chorizo topped with whipped cream and chorizo oil

Gold Forest Grains steel cut oats with pistachios, blueberries, sauteed chorizo topped with whipped cream and chorizo oil

Immediately following the steel cut oats were the ricotta fritters with a tomato and orange sauce. I usually find fritters to be hit or miss, depending on the occasion, but these ricotta fritters were pillowy soft and when paired with the tangy sauce, they were perfect little bites.

Ricotta Fritters with a Tomato and Orange Sauce

Ricotta Fritters with a Tomato and Orange Sauce

The next dish included my nemesis – the poached egg… full disclosure here – I did not eat the beautifully poached egg, but rather passed it on to Nancy after I snapped some photos and a video for snapchat. Nancy really liked the egg and the egg yolk was runny, which is what you would like to see with what is essentially an eggs benny. The grated potatoes and smoked salmon (from local company Sgambaro’s Seafood) were delicious with the bernaise sauce.

Poached egg on grated potatoes and smoked salmon with a hollandaise/bernaise sauce

Poached egg on grated potatoes and smoked salmon with a bernaise sauce

The final savory dish on deck was a flank steak (marinated in beer) with a German bread dumpling with rapini, mushrooms and truffle. When I think steak and brunch, I usually think of the huge lumberjack type breakfast, but this was much more refined and cooked beautifully. My favorite part though was the German bread dumpling… that would be my love of carbs speaking.

Flank Steak (marinated in beer) with a German bread dumpling with rapini, mushrooms and truffle

Flank Steak (marinated in beer) with a German bread dumpling with rapini, mushrooms and truffle

I was feeling pretty full (who wouldn’t be?) by now, but then Chef Doreen started plating dessert and I never say no to dessert. The fried brioche dusted with lavender sugar, white chocolate and elderflower parfait with a chocolate chili sauce were a phenomenal ending to brunch. These hit the right balance of sweetness as the chocolate sauce was a dark chocolate with a hint of heat and the berries with the elderflower parfait were the right mix of sweet and tart.

Fried brioche dusted with lavendar sugar, white chocolate and elderflower parfait with a chocolate chili sauce

Fried brioche dusted with lavender sugar, white chocolate and elderflower parfait with a chocolate chili sauce

Overall, I had an amazing time at the Get Cooking brunch and I could not recommend it enough. The Get Cooking team is fantastic and there to make your experience great – they were always ready to offer more coffee and tea, stop and explain the dishes, offer to have people come up and see what Chef Doreen was cooking and answer any and all questions diners had about the dishes. The brunches probably seat around 20 or so people (at least that was what the set up was when we were there), although I think the room could be configured for more if needed? The set up we had allowed us to chat with our fellow diners, and this is where I met fellow blogger Athena (aka The Salty Almond), so that was very nice!

So What Would Argenplath Pay?

The Get Cooking brunches are on Saturdays at the Get Cooking studio and ticket prices are $45 per adult, $22.50 for children between the ages of 7 and 13, and free for children 6 and under. The brunch fee includes coffee/tea, a welcome cocktail, three hot entrees, a cold table, and dessert, which I think it quite reasonable for what you get. I don’t think you will be disappointed if it is anything like my February experience!

The next brunch is on April 16 and there are still spaces available, but the May session is completely sold out, so I would recommend getting yourself a space while you can. You can keep an eye out on the Get Cooking calendar for the brunch pop-ups and purchase tickets via the website as well.

Disclosure: I was invited to the Get Cooking Brunch by Get Cooking and our brunch was complimentary. I was not expected to write a blog post in exchange for our meal and all opinions remain my own.