Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festival

One of Edmonton’s largest and most densely populated food and wine exhibitions–the Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festival–took over the Shaw Conference Centre last weekend for its 12th year. Read all about it here!

The 12th annual Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festival has come and gone, leaving thousands of wine-tasting, food-loving people in its wake. The festival took over the Shaw Conference Centre on October 25th and 26th, offering 3 sessions for attendees’ tasting pleasure.

The event is sponsored by Liquor Depot and Liquor Connect, and is run by the same people who organize Winefest each year. While Winefest offers an all-inclusive pass for about $70, the RMWFF sells entrance tickets for $15-24 and sample tickets at $0.50 a piece. With over 75 wineries and 35 purveyors of food, it’s easy to spend a solid $50 per person on sample tickets, provided you’re an eater and a drinker.

Which, of course I am. There are a number of great food festivals throughout the city every year, but only a handful of great wine ones. This was one of them.

There’s really nothing quite like a wine tasting event. An afternoon (that’s right – I went to the afternoon session) of sipping a multitude of global wines, nibbling on tasty treats, and meeting some very knowledgeable vendors is one of my favourite things to do in the world.

The first booth I visited was good ol’ Johnnie Walker’s. The first thing that passed my lips at 12:30 on a Saturday afternoon (excluding the coffee from Timmy’s, of course): a taste of JW Gold Label Reserve. Nothing like a honey-laced shot of scotch to start your day off right. I absolutely hate Black Label, but I’d buy the Gold Label Reserve. It’s lovely.

Here are some of my other favourites from the event:

Wine

  • Red Rock Malbec
  • Freakshow Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Sierra Cantabria Rioja Crianza (TOP WINE)
  • Caligiore Malbec (Organic)
  • 1884 Reservado Malbec
  • Anciano Tempranillo, aged 7 years
  • Cricova Prestige Dry Red
  • Primal Roots Red Blend (very similar to Apothic Red)

Food

  •  Castello Alps Chiantino Cheese
  • The Cheesecake Cafe’s Creole Mussels
  • NaanOLicious’ Cinnamon Naan
  • Sloppy Hoggs Roed Hus’ BBQ Beef Ribs
  • Sunterra’s Cheese Plate, especially the Cambozola (TOP FOOD)

One of the things I liked most about this event was the availability and abundance of cheeses. Unlike Winefest, which only showcased two cheese booths (both from The Cheesiry), the RMWFF offered a variety of cheese options, including a Dairy Farmers of Canada sample station. Brilliant.

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to hit each and every booth during our time there, so I didn’t get to try a lot of the food. I was there for the wine, though, and in that regard, RMWFF lived up to my expectations. There were more than enough options for the avid wine lover and each company representative was more than willing to chat with you about vintage, body, retail, and all of the other details I’m sure you’re dying to know.

I really enjoyed this event and was glad I selected the afternoon session, because there were very few line-ups or busy areas. I’d have liked them to provide a tasting notebook, though, similar to Winefest’s; it was difficult to keep track of which wines I did or didn’t like without having anything with which to take notes. The map we were given wasn’t made for note-taking. We didn’t get to keep the wineglass, either, but that’s all right. I have plenty.

While I enjoyed the food options from some of Edmonton’s well-known restaurants, there wasn’t very much that stood out for me. I definitely enjoyed Sunterra’s Cambozola–a blue cheese that’s similar to a brie and gorgonzola mix–and Sloppy Hoggs’ beautiful beef ribs. They fell right off the bone: delicious!

By the end of the event, it was getting difficult to focus my camera (and my eyes), so I’d say RMWFF did a job well done. I look forward to Winefest early next year, and will definitely be back for more Rocky Mountain treats next Autumn!

BATTLEDISH 2013

On October 5th, pans were ready, ingredients prepared, and chefs pumped up to take home the crown. Hosted by Dishcrawl, Battledish pitted 5 chefs against one another in a culinary competition to name one chef as King of Battledish. The winner of the Most Delicious category and the crowned King of Battledish was Chef Paul Shufelt of Lux Steakhouse and Bar for his Ultimate Slider.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at this event, not least because of all the great food I got to try! My favourite dish was Hundred Bar and Kitchen’s Pork Belly Sandwich, which was served with kimchi and a beautiful mayonnaise sauce. I thought this item was the most innovative because of its unorthodox use of kimchi. And it worked!

My favourite cocktail was by far the Pimm’s No. 1 Cup at The Burg. While they didn’t invent this cocktail (just like Lux didn’t invent the Old Fashioned), it was still delicious and a great choice for the day. A close second was Hundred Bar and Kitchen’s Dude Fizz Vodka Cocktail.

A huge thanks to Gemma Huber, Edmonton’s Dishcrawl Community Manager, for organizing the event! I’m looking forward to Cocktail Wars, Dishcrawl’s next big competition. I wonder if former bartenders can enter…I do make a mean gin cocktail! 😉

To find out more about the winners and the other categories, visit the Dishcrawl blog here.

To read my fellow bloggers and judges’ reviews of the event, check out the Only Here for the Food andLittle Miss Andrea blogs!

MONTREAL: LE P’TIT PLATEAU

Fresh air, fabulous friends, Bring Your Own Wine, and foie gras = not a complaint in the world. I’m a BYOB convert, plain and simple. Not that I’d ever need much convincing of BYOB’s greatness, but there you go. Edmonton is woefully lacking

RUTH’S CHRIS STEAK HOUSE

If you want the fine dining experience, you have to pay the price and Ruth’s Chris (while pricey) manages to tick all of the fine dining boxes: fabulous food, attentive service, and a beautifully romantic restaurant ambience. I did a bit of research

THE CREPERIE

In celebration of Edmonton’s fantastic Downtown Dining Week event (#DTDW), hosted by the Downtown Business Association, I decided to forgo the new and the trendy (for now), and retry an old French favourite: The Creperie. I hadn’t been to this

PAMPA BRAZILIAN STEAKHOUSE

Pampa is one of my favourite restaurants in the city and, despite the hefty price tag, serves up an impeccable dining experience that’s extremely difficult to beat. There’s buffets, there’s steakhouses…and then there’s Pampa. The

TZIN WINE AND TAPAS

Tzin is a perfectly delightful hole-in-the-wall restaurant that serves amazing food from a selective yet professional Spanish tapas menu. My first impression of this restaurant (as you’ll have seen if you follow me on Twitter) was that it was

Privada wine+tapas

This restaurant was my birthday choice, simply because there’s no better thing than enjoying delicious tapas, delicate wines, and all kinds of cheeses in the dead of winter (especially in Canada). My expectations were high, based on the reviews and the online menu – I hadn’t had a stand-up charcuterie plate since England, believe it or not. Were my expectations met, or was I to be disappointed?

Absolutely yes and definitely not. My friends, this place was fantastic. A tiny little bistro with room to barely sit 50, Privada was stylish, comfortable, and homey – everything you want in a tapas restaurant. With low lighting and beautifully ambient music, the atmosphere was delightfully charming – enough so that even the TV’s insistence on showing the fireplace channel couldn’t dampen the mood. The wine selection was excellent; even the ‘lower-end’ malbecs were full-bodied and smooth – perfect to pair with a charcuterie plate.

Taner and I started out with the seared maple scallops, served with white wine corn puree on marinated roma tomatoes, as well as the prosciutto-wrapped asparagus. The scallops were perfectly cooked, with the puree acting as a hollandaise-esque sauce that complemented them nicely.

The asparagus – oh, the asparagus! I would return to this restaurant simply for the asparagus. I read several reviews before visiting Privada, and almost all of them (the smart ones) made mention of this amazing dish. Please go there. Please try them. You won’t regret it. Also, several of my friends tried the Asian Chicken Skewers, served with wasabi dressing, and pronounced them delicious. However, the Garlic and Artichoke dip (served with the Chips and Dip) wasn’t the best we’ve ever had, and the chips tasted too much like the oil they were cooked in. Oh well, can’t win them all, right?

I’m completely obsessed with cured meats and gourmet cheeses (thanks to my fantastic UK MA friends, who showed me the way) and it was my birthday, so I went Double Butcher. The charcuterie plate can work three ways: select three cheeses, select three cheeses and two meats, or have one of everything. The Double Butcher, as you may have guessed, was a smorgasbord of all the tasters Privada has to offer. Our plate consisted of:

  • Dairy: Le Triple Creme (soft), Sir Laurier (soft beige), Bleubry (blue), Le Cendrilon (ash-covered goat), Contonnier (semi-firm), and Le Saint Raymond (soft).
  • Butcher: Westfalin Ham, Prosciutto, Pepper Salami, and Coppa.

Our tasting plate was accompanied with crackers, breads, chutneys, and spreads; my only regret was that we didn’t get one tasting plate each!

The dessert shots – served in shot glasses – were delightful. At $2 a pop, you can try a couple of different ones without breaking the bank or having to eat a mammoth-sized cake, as is too often the case. I tried the Lime Cheese Cake, a mini-dessert perfect for lovers of key lime.

All in all, I would definitely visit this restaurant again. The food, the wine, the atmosphere, even the service – all perfect. In fact, writing about it now makes me think I should book myself a table again sometime soon…

Definitely make sure to book, though – a place this good will always fill up fast.

Privada wine+tapas
100 – 21 Perron Street
St. Albert, AB
(780) 569-5479
Hours: 
CLOSED Sunday-Tuesday
Wednesday-Thursday 4-10
Friday 4-12
Saturday 3-12