January 8, 2011

culinary events: cinema to savour

Living in a resource-rich land like British Columbia, it's quite easy to be blinded by the plenty. We have rainforests teeming with mushrooms and wild game; seas and rivers teeming with a world's envy of seafood; and tracts of farmland offering produce and crops that bless us with a level of self-sufficiency. Unfortunately we must always keep our minds to the past, our feet in the present, and our actions to the future. History demands we respect our natural gifts by protecting them so we can enjoy their fruits for generations to come.

The Chef's Table Society is an organization of like-minded professionals from BC's food industry which exists specifically to educate restauranteurs and the public alike on sustainable food selection. They hold events throughout the year which highlight our natural bounty, which oft times, get sent overseas for others to enjoy as they're not as accepted locally (eg. spot prawns/amaebi, geoduck...). They also recently hosted the 2nd Canadian Chefs' Congress conference in September. To throw these events, they do some unique fundraising throughout the year.

The most recent was Cinema To Savour in late-November. A "food-related" movie is shown at the very spiffy VanCity Theatre (home of the Vancouver International Film Festival), with a Q&A hosted by a local chef, and of course, bites provided by various local shops. This particular showing featured one of my all-time favourite movies Disney/Pixar's Ratatouille.

This evening's featured speaker and host was Chef Scott Jaegar of the Pear Tree Restaurant. For bites, he was offering a shooter-size spot prawn "cappuccino"; slices of confit venison with a carrot and squash risotto; and hoisin-glazed braised quail legs. Some dishes that were tied to the movie were a ratatouille in aspic on summer squash, and a very amusing chevre-toppped chanterelle mushroom crostini (in honour of Remy's lightningey tomme de chevre de pays/chanterelle mushroom creation). All the bites were amuse-sized and quite good, but I found myself repeatedly reaching for the chevre-mushroom crostini (I'm an admitted goat-cheese slut) and the quail.

Terra Breads had a table with popcorn, cookies and lemonade for the kiddies (and young-at-heart). R&B Brewery and Saturna Island Estate winery were offering tastings of their beer and wine creations respectively. The Olive Oil Merchant had a variety of oils on display. I tried a particuarly earthy bottle called "Azienda Agricola Librandi" that I exclaimed "TRUFFLES!" at my first lick. Mmmm truffley olive oil...

Then there were the sweets :-)

Absolutely adorable chocolate mice were there for the taking! I'm not the biggest chocoholic, but I popped a few of these little bad boys. A selection of cheeses were also on offer, as well as crostini and apples for palate cleanser. Caffe Artigiano was on-hand for tamer drinks.

This was a very fun event to attend - if nothing else, any excuse to watch Ratatouille, especially on the bigscreen is reason enough for me. That being said, tickets were a steep $55 each, though for the food and experience, and the fact that it was a fundraising event, I suppose it's fair. It's telling though the the theatre was more than half-empty, and a good number of attendees were children. I was fortunate enough to have received 2 tickets from Cassandra at Good Life Vancouver, and I took Ray along with me.

Stay tuned for my Ratatouille review.

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