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The Food Bloggers of Canada Conference. The journey there.

The Food Bloggers of Canada Conference. The journey there.

Who knew the weather would play such a roll for FBC members across Canada.

Wednesday evening before I was to leave I received a call to inform me that my flight to Toronto had been cancelled. I was rescheduled on a earlier flight Thursday morning. Much earlier, like 5 hours earlier…. After a moment of slight panic I took a deep breath and headed to my closet. No problem, it just meant I had to get busy packing, it was looking like a long evening ahead. Between getting everything ready and nerves of excitement,( I had not been in a plane since I was a young child) headed to the biggest city in Canada, I was indeed anxious about the conference. Though you Tweet with many on a daily basis it still felt like I was walking into a room full of strangers.

I planned to arrive there a day early so I could get my bearings. Sleep late and try and get rested up. And give myself plenty of time to meet with fellow bloggers at the airport for the drive out to Hockley Friday afternoon.

After finally falling asleep around 2:30 the alarm rang at 4:15, my journey was about to begin. With just enough time to get ready and enjoy one steamy mug of hot coffee it was time to head to the airport. It was dark and calm out. Very nice for a drive out to the edge of the city. It is not often I am out & about during that hour of the day but I find that whenever I am, I marvel at the serene calmness of the world. Close to dawn yet still oddly silent. I just love it!

Unless I could be at home sleeping in my nice comfortable bed. Lord knows I could have used it.  I arrived to find out that the plane was full. And there was no other way out until the following morning. Same time. Same place.  The lovely woman from WestJet told me to go home and get some sleep.

On the drive home I realized all my travel plans out to the resort where now not going to work. I got home, brewed a fresh pot of coffee and enjoyed the 6:30 am sunrise.

Perks of a cancelled flight, an early morning sunrise on the prairies.

By 7:00 I received a Tweet from Michelle in Edmonton, her flight was also cancelled. There was an ice storm in Toronto playing havoc with many peoples travel plans.

We all seem to hit the Facebook page at the same time. Many now looking for rides out to the resort because of changing travel plans. Deep down inside worrying if we would make it there at all.

I lucked out and there were offers of rides for latecomers to Toronto. As fate would have it, she was also my roommate for the weekend! As we headed out of the city the conversation flowed. Of course it soon turned to a passion we both share. Photography!  Thank you again Heather. You were a fantastic roommate and I enjoyed hanging out and chatting with you throughout the weekend. The ride to Hockey Valley and then to Orangeville were greatly appreciated.  As was the help in getting my over full suitcase zipped. That was most definitely a team effort.

On my way into Toronto between flights, I caught a Tweet in Edmonton before I boarded my plane that there was an ice storm out at the resort and that the power was out. Yikes. This definitely was going to be a conference to remember. On the drive out the closer we got to Hockley Valley the more ice covered the trees and fences were. It was quite stunning. Though I imagine the drive a few hours earlier was probably quite hairy. Unsure of how the evening would go with no power we joked about roasting hot dogs outdoors over the fire. And really that would have been fine, we were just so pleased to be there.

The power had been restored just before we arrived. We checked in, got registered, then headed up to our room to get ready for the Cocktail reception. When the elevator doors opened there stood the lovely Michelle from The Tiffin Box. You would never have known her flight left Edmonton at 1 that morning. She looked amazing! It was so nice to finally meet her in person. We have been Tweeting each other for a long long time and I was so very glad she made it to the conference.

A quick change, a few curls and we were headed downstairs to mingle and check out the fantastic spread being presented by the sponsors of the event. The room was a swarm of food and drink, hugs and loud conversation. I was busy scoping out name tags trying to place names and faces with the tiny avatars from social media. I briefly chatted with some of the sponsors, trying out the wonderful samples they were offering. And just as I made it from one end of the room to the other it was time to be seated for dinner.

The dining room for the Food Bloggers of Canada welcome dinner

And what a dinner it was. Every course had wine pairings with a description of the wines and the vineyard they came from by Luke Orwinski from Rosewood Estates Winery.

The Poutine starter from the Food Bloggers of Canada welcome dinner.

Like any good Canadian conference our meal started with an amazing rendition of Poutine paired with the Rosewood 2011 Chardonnay Reserve. It was unlike an Poutine I have ever experience. Truly outstanding.

Wellington County Prime Rib w/sauteed Windy Fields mushrooms as the main at the Food Bloggers of Canada welcome dinner.

The main was a fork tender Wellington County Prime Rib with Yorkshire pudding, sautéed Windy Field’s mushrooms with a red wine jus. The wines were a Henry of Pelham Baco Noir & Rosewood Merlot.

Chocolate Trifle desset at the Food Bloggers of Canada welcome dinner.

Our meal was finished with a luxurious Chocolate Trifle of stewed berries, chocolate genoise, vanilla custard with Chantilly cream paired with a Henry of Pelham Icewine.

Every moment of the evening was perfect. The food was outstanding. The event started off with huge expectations for the weekend ahead.

You would have never known the power was out for most of the day. Truly a testament to the amazing staff at the Hockley Valley Resort, the entire planning crew from the FBC and all of the sponsors who took part in the cocktail reception. The evening was flawless.

 

The kitchen aid milkshake bar at the Food Bloggers of Canada welcome dinner.      The kitchen aid milkshake bar at the Food Bloggers of Canada welcome dinner.

Like any good Food Blogger Conference following dinner we were lead to the next room over where Kitchen Aid had set up a milkshake bar! The ballroom had been transformed into a movie theater where everyone could relax and unwind from the days events.

Exhausted I fell into bed that night and reflected on the day. I realized that not once was I nervous about being there. From the moment you walked in it was like being a room full of friends. All gathered because of common passions with a need to learn more and meet fellow foodies from across our great country. Where it was okay to take pictures of each course of our dinner and Tweet between bites of the amazing meal before us.  A fantastic feeling indeed!

 

 

 

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The First ever Food Bloggers of Canada Conference. My take.

The First ever Food Bloggers of Canada Conference. My take.

This weekend I attended the first ever Food Bloggers of Canada Conference at the Hockley Valley Resort in Orangeville, Ontario.

The Food Bloggers of Canada Conference

When it was announced I knew immediately that I was going to be there.

I am not sure what I was more excited about? Meeting Ethan, Mardi and Melissa, the amazing trio behind the FBC? Seeing the faces of those I Tweet with on a daily basis? Meeting the bloggers I didn’t know before my trip to Ontario? The amazing line up of  speakers, we’re talking David Leite, Dianne Jacob, Dana McCauley, Mairlyn Smith, Alexa Clark, Adell Shneer, and many many more. Panels with some of the biggest bloggers in Canada, brands, a panel on publishing, a Chef, tons of tech information, even a book keeper! Or the food and wine that awaited us? Turns out, every second of it was pure epicness. re: Urban Dictionary example #2 ” Another word for epic to describe a monumental event. To the extreme”

The lessons I learnt were many. It was a weekend that far exceed my expectations and I am guessing it will take 4 posts if not more to sum up everything I took away from it.

It’s not that I have been doing it wrong. I feel like I have not been focusing on 100% of the content of my posts. I lean towards making pictures first, the words have become a second thought. The story at times, not being told at all.

David Leite speaking at the Food Bloggers of Canada Conference 2013

David said something that I was so glad to hear.

There is nothing wrong with posts of at least 1000 words.
I think that has been part of what has been holding me back. You often read that it is recommended you keep your posts short and sweet. That long posts are boring and deter people from returning.
Of course, I disagree, a well told story with emotion will garner a readership. I have been cutting it short, editing how much I say, but you just can not tell a story in 300 words or less.
 Not that I was needing permission but hearing that has really changed my focus.
Some of the things he said that really resonated with me were the about the written word.
Notes from the FBC conference w/David Leite.
  You need to love language.
The voice determines the choice of words.
Have someone critique your work.
Punctuation creates rhythm.
Write about what you are passionate about.
Saying that, David Tweeted me Wednesday morning, I was very touched by his opening of the Q & A session on Saturday when he mentioned his gramdmother. It was one of the moments over the weekend that brought me to tears. I could so relate to his emotion in those moments. How powerful the love we both have for our grandmothers and how food can bring those thoughts back to us immediately, just from a smell, or a technique we learnt in their kitchen.
He had mentioned  that my latest post was touching. Which I was glad to hear. But in reflection it did not evoke enough emotion for him leave a response on the blog. So I know where I need to do the work.

I want to find a voice where everyone can relate and respond.
He was a fantastic speaker and I am so glad he was asked to be at the conference. The lessons I took away from his words are very much appreciated. And exactly what I needed to hear.
Now to do the work, and find my voice.
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Recipe To Riches. Canada’s Top 5!

Recipe To Riches. Canada’s Top 5!

If anything this chapter in my journey has taught me is patience.

When you are dealing with a televison production that is traveling across the country, sorting through all of the contestants and products and making so many decisions there is a lot of waiting involved.

And so I did.

After I received my gold ticket in Vancouver I was told I would hear from the show, either way, on the 4th of March.

It is amazing what you can accomplish when you are trying to keep busy and distracted at the same time. It was a very productive 3 weeks. Though I have to say, it has also been very enlightening and I find I am having a hard time putting it all into words.

For whatever reason, I seem to have put certain aspects of my life on hold for about 5 weeks now.  The trip to Vancouver was very cathartic and I find myself examining my life.

It is amazing what can happen when you really put yourself out there. Really out there.

The hours turned to days, days into weeks. Always aware of the Tweets Kyle was putting out from the Recipe To Riches crew, and a Twitter follower of both Dana and Tony the excitment was there, simmering just below the surface. I checked and double checked my paperwork from Vancouver. Going over the possible dates of the trip to Toronto if I was lucky enough to get that far.

The weekend of the 4th rolled around and time began to drag, like the batteries of a clock in the process of dying. Sunday arrived with much antisipation. I would literally jump, my heart racing every time the phone rang. Knowing they had the Toronto auditions earlier that day they must have been working in overdrive. I knew if I did hear from them, it would be late in the day. At about 10 that night I thought I would check my email for the hell of it. There was a 1 beside the inbox.

It was an email asking me to fill out some paperwork for a back ground check on behalf of the show.

What did this mean? Am I in? Have they decided? It was midnight in Toronto, no way I would hear anything further tonight.

I filled out the required paperwork, signed what needed signing and was at the post office first thing Monday morning.

When I got home this was in my email.

Did you read #3.

You want to know what is worse then waiting?

Getting word you have indeed moved to the next level ………….. and can’t tell a soul.

This time no date was given as to when I would get final word.  The ultimate exercise in patience. I quickly threw myself into a few very time consuming projects. I work very well under pressure so I took advantage of the nervous energy.

I was so close I could taste it. Feel it.  I spent many hours visualizing myself in Toronto. I could really do this. Truly the first time I went for something huge for myself. Digging deep and finding my courage.

Putting it all out there.

Could you imagine the possiblilty?

To have a once in a life time opportunity to compete to get a product I created into stores across the country. To represent a city I have grown to love on a scale such as this would be amazing.

Becoming a slave to the phone it became an extension of myself. One more call. That is it. Just one.

And it came, while I was in the shower, of course.

I quickly jumped out and answered it. I have looked at the phone number a 100 times so I knew it was them.

Dripping wet, wrapped in a towel in my newly painted bathroom……my journey came to an end.

This time it was Yetta calling and as she put it, the news isn’t good. I was as close as one could get. Top 5 in Canada is pretty cool! She did invite me back to try for season 3.  And mentioned that they did pop in and read my blog. Which was pretty neat to hear. Though it didn’t lighten the blow.

I stepped back into the shower, let the hot water drift over me. The tears didn’t come right away. I think I was numb.  I have since made up for that in the day that followed. And to be honest, writing this has been tremendously tough.

The disappointment is indeed huge.

Would I do it all again? Absolutely. It has been an amazing journey. I am changed. I am excited! Defintely at a crossroad in my life. Trying to figure out where do I go from here? I feel like something big still needs to happen, like there are things I need to do.

I want to thank everyone who has followed along these past few weeks. Your support has been overwhelming and so very much appreciated.

I am sorry it ended here and not in Toronto.

Is season 3 a possiblilty? Absolutely.

I know I can still win this thing. It is just a matter of timing……….

Thanks again everyone!

Keep it real.

 

 

 

 

 

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Butter Poached Halibut Tacos with Avocado and Ponzu.

Butter Poached Halibut Tacos with Avocado and Ponzu.

We are experiencing one of the most mild winters I have ever seen. It is a nice break from the many feet of snow we usually receive. And I suspect many people will not pack on the winter weight that comes with the long cold snowy days. I know with the fall like weather I have not been craving those heavy, comforting meals we associate with winter.

Looking to enjoy something light, fish was the plan for the day.

salmon halibut red snapper

Sadly, the huge score of salmon and halibut from the trip during the summer to Walter’s Cove is near it’s end. It has been fantastic trying all the different recipes and techniques used along the way.

It has me wanting to take a trip to the west coast in the near future. The frozen store bought seafood so no longer going to cut it.

This time we are butter poaching the halibut in a milk butter poaching liquid with a few simple herbs.

butter poaching liquid

Butter Poached Halibut

2 pieces of halibut

1 1/4 cups of milk

1/2 cup of butter

1/2 of a lemon, sliced thin

2 bay leaves

2 teaspoons of dried basil

lemon pepper

Trim the halibut so that the pieces are the same size. Season with lemon pepper and set aside.

halibut

In a large pan melt the butter. Add the milk, lemon and herbs and bring to a simmer. Add the halibut, cover the pan with a lid. Poach the halibut for 6 minutes, turn over and poach for 6 more minutes.

Set aside.

poached halibut

For the tacos:

fish taco

Ancient Grain tortillas

tomatos – diced

cucumber – diced

avocado – sliced

lettuce – chopped

ponzu

tartar sauce

Down the centre of the tortilla place a nice row of chopped lettuce. Add tomatos, cucumber, avocado and chunks of the halibut. Add a few small dollops of tartar sauce and sprinkle with ponzu to taste.

Roll and enjoy.

Butter Poached Hailbut Tacos with Avacado and Ponzu

It was so light and refreshing! The ponzu gives the halibut a nice tang and a touch of saltiness. Every bite is different, with one bite having creaminess from the avocodo and tartars sauce and the next, crisp and fresh from the vegetables.

This is my take on a fish taco. And my first fish taco ever. I have seen them recently on Eat St. from some of the fantastic food trucks featured and had to try it at home. Playing with the ingredients last night, it is easliy a dish you could prepare 1000 different ways. From the way you cook the fish, to the vegetables and sauces you could add. I forsee many many fish tacos in my future.

 

 

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Blackened Salmon

Blackened Salmon

World class fishing at it’s finest is what you will find at the West Coast Resort off the north western coast of British Columbia’s Vancouver Island.

Location, Walter’s Cove in the Kyuquot Sound.

wcrboats1

With a new fleet of boats, and everything you can imagine taken care of, it is fishing  like you have never experienced before.  Seriously, they do it all. Upon your trip home you are greeted at the airport with boxes of your catch that has been cleaned, portioned, packaged and frozen. All you need is enough freezer space once you get it home.

And the fishing does not disappoint.  I have the pictures as  proof and a list of recipes as long as my arm…… okay well not that long, but you get the point. With over $1000 worth of fish brought home,  I am very excited to get busy.

On the down side I know, that after enjoying fish this fresh I will probably be disapointed in the frozen choices available to me at the grocery stores.

I guess that just means a trip to the coast is in order. And I already have a few things picked out for my trip to the coast. First is a stop at Red Fish Blue Fish in Victoria, which was recently featured on Eat St. Everything they made looked amazing. You just know they are doing it right!

Second is to hunt down the  Lobster Poutine my friend Jeanne was telling me about after a trip there this summer.

Anyway, on to the salmon.

Salmon was the most prolifically caught fish on the trip, the largest one, which also got the owner an award, came in at 30 pounds.  Be sure to stop back in a few days to checkout the award, I am hoping to get a picture of it Tuesday.

I have played with salmon often, the most common preparation has been smoking it.

But looking to enjoy it in it’s simplicity chose to just quickly pan fry it  blacked style.

Blackened Salmon

2 tablespoons of paprika

1 tsp of cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon of garlic powder

2 teaspoons of salt

1/2 teaspoon of pepper

1/4 teaspoon of Italian seasoning

1/4 teaspoon of Greek seasoning

1/4 teaspoon of dried oregano

1/2 cup of butter – melted

In a small bowl combine all the spices. Mix well. Pour on to a small plate.

Meanwhile, in a small pot melt the butter over medium heat.

Lightly brush both sides of the salmon fillets with melted butter.

Press the buttered sides of the fillets on to the plate with the spices. Cover well.

Place on a plate and drizzle the tops gently with butter.

Heat a large skillet on high heat until very hot. Add the salmon fillets, buttered side down. Cook until the bottom is blackened, roughly 2 -5 minutes. Drizzle the tops with butter and flip. Cook until blackened and flakes easily.

This turned out to be one of the best salmon dishes I have ever tasted. The slight spiciness combined with the touch of butter brought out the best aspects of the spices. One never over powered the other, they all work together in perfect harmony. Not to salty or smoky, the richness of the salmon was the showcase of the dish.

If you do try this recipe please either drop my an email or post here to let me know what you think. And if you changed it up any. It is always interesting to get other takes on what does and does not work for you.

You can find Walter’s Cove on Twitter @TeamWaltersCove

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