It was an evening of hedonistic delight. On Tuesday night, hungry — and thirsty — foodies — swarmed the Burlington Performing Arts Centre to taste-test delicious tidbits from 19 of the 24 restaurants which will be participating in this summer’s “Taste of Burlington” programme. The happy patrons munched and sipped and chatted and gossiped and sampled everything from pulled pork wontons (Honey West) to butter shrimp (Ye Olde Squire) to asparagus vichysoisse (Purple Heather Gastro Pub).
The event was held, this time, in the foyer at the Performing Arts Centre in Burlington and it was a fine venue. A bright, airy space, roomy enough so that people weren’t bumping elbows yet not so cavernous as to feel half empty. Parking was easy and the air conditioning worked — what more could you ask?
I must admit that I am not a big fan of lining up and waiting for food, and then, walking around juggling plates, cutlery and goblets. But everything worked pretty well this evening. The organizers decided to go “green” and used re-cyclable materials which were easily disposable, so that you weren’t constantly looking for places to put down your plate. And the tidbits — on the whole — were bite size and didn’t require cutting with a knife. With19 hard-working vendors to choose from, there were no really long lineups. All in all, this was a beautifully organized evening. Kudos to Tourism Burlington and all of the planners, vendors, volunteers and workers.
And no, despite an evening of excess, I didn’t eat 19 snacks. (I would have if I could have, but there are limits — even for me.) A few of the highlights:
Peppered chicken liver and andouille sausage paté with mushroom ketchup on olive oil crostini from Paradiso. Not at all heavy for a summer evening — the paté was smooth, rich and silky, the “ketchup” spicey and piquant and the crostini provided a nice crisp contrast. A superb blending of flavours and textures.
Butter shrimp in a house made butter sauce with hints of cardamom and tandoori spice. The plump, succulent shrimp were served on house made naan which was “to die for” — lush, warm and yeasty. (Of course, as the chef noted, they had me at the butter!) Now, I’m trying to figure out why this Indian-inspired delicacy was served by a restaurant calling itself Ye Olde Squire?
Coffee and ancho braised beef short ribs cooked by the West Plains Bistro and served along with a bell pepper salad with pumpkin and sunflower seeds and a cilantro honey oil. Again — a remarkable, rich and really complex layering of flavours.
Other taste treats included big, fat, juicy marinated scallops from the Red Canoe Bistro, a refreshing summer salad from the Water St. Cooker, a spicy sweet potato and pork belly dumpling in a flakey, phyllo envelope from the Queen’s Head Pub, and … oh well .. I will not go on. If you missed it, you missed it.
But don’t fret. You will still be able to enjoy some of this delicious food at four of our up-coming Go Cooking sessions, as well as on the prix fixe menus of the participating restaurants during A Taste of Burlington (www.atasteofburlington.ca)which runs from July 21st to August 5th.
AND — THIS JUST IN —
The launch evening ran a contest and the ballots have been counted:
Winner of the “Best Taste” award (judged by a group of local food experts) —
The two runners up: Red Canoe Bistro and the Queen’s Head Pub
Congratulations to all of the participants.
I’ll leave you with a recipe from Paradiso that is going to be used in our up-coming (July 8th) Go Cooking session.
Red Wine Poached Pears
from Chef Adam Mackay, Paradiso
2 Bosc pears (peeled)
1 litre red wine
1 cup sugar
½ cinnamon stick
1. Quarter pears and remove core with a melon baller
2. Bring red wine, sugar and cinnamon stick to a boil and place pears in boiling liquid
3. Bring liquid back to a boil and remove from heat
4. Place pears in a dish ensuring the liquid is completely covering pears
5. Cover with foil and push foil on top of pears to help keep pears submerged
6. Allow pears to cool in the fridge for at least 4 hours before serving
The chef will be using these pears in a salad. But they would be good also just served as a compote.