Wednesday, May 9, 2012

someone's in the kitchen

When Fredericton Tourism asked me if I would go behind the scenes at the Delta Fredericton kitchen and cook with Executive Chef Jason Gower and his team for a Kitchen Rave I jumped at the chance.  Held periodically at the hotel, the Kitchen Raves offer a chance for couples, corporate groups or friends to head to the kitchen and prepare a three course meal the way the experts do.  Of course, the best part is sampling the finished product!

Our first course was a cocoa crusted chicken served with a wild mushroom and lobster risotto, topped with lemon butter sauce.  I love the idea of liberating cocoa from desserts or sweet treats and look forward to trying this cocoa crusted chicken at home.  And, of course, risotto is one of my favourite dishes and this version with lobster, wild mushrooms and saffron didn't disappoint.  (I also learned some secrets on how I can serve risotto at my next dinner part without forcing my guests to visit me in the kitchen for a 20-minute broth facial over a steaming risotto pot!)

Our salad course was roasted asparagus and goat cheese salad with seared Bay of Fundy scallops and topped with a port wine vinaigrette and crushed walnuts.  Originally this had been intended to be a roasted beet salad but Chef has a real commitment to quality ingredients sourced as locally as possible and when he couldn't find beets to his liking switched the dish to asparagus. I've been roasting asparagus at home a lot this spring - brings out a wonderful flavour, especially in the tips.  How cute is the little cucumber slice basket holding the greens?  A simple way to dress up your greens!

Before the main course, Chef took us outside to share a breathtaking sunset.  Who needs dinner and a movie?  This is the real show!   The Delta Fredericton patio has arguably the best view of the river in the city and this has me excited for the opening of their pool bar!

We headed back to the table and our main course: white balsamic and roasted garlic marinated strip loin of Atlantic pride beef, topped with a red wine reduction and grilled baby prawns. I rarely cook beef at home because I find it challenging to get it just right.  So I appreciate someone else serving me a juicy, quality strip loin.  And how cute are those multi-coloured carrots?  Really simple and creative choices to dress up the plate.

And finally - dessert: a Keswick apple tart tartin served with vanilla pod ice cream quenelles.  This is a dish that really emphasizes the Chef's focus on local ingredients.  The local apples are blanched and frozen in the fall so they can be used throughout the year.  I've done that with vegetables but it never occurred to me to preserve the fruits of my apple-picking labours this way!  (I'm going to need a bigger freezer...)   The tart was sweet and caramelized and the rich and creamy vanilla pod ice cream from McCabe's is ice cream as it should be!  A fancier spin on the classic apple pie and ice cream and a great end to a delicious evening.

Whether you're a seasoned chef or a kitchen neophyte, the Delta Kitchen Rave is a night of great fun and great eats.  Keep an eye on the Delta Fredericton Facebook page for details of the next rave - they announce about two weeks in advance.

No comments: