Category: Luxury

Chef’s Table Experience at Ernest’s NAIT

Chef’s Table Experience at Ernest’s NAIT

I was honored to be invited to a “Chef’s Table” at Ernest’s which are put on by the NAIT Culinary Arts Program.  I was thrilled about this mostly because the Culinary Arts students are so full of enthusiasm and the most beautiful plating I have ever seen!  The thing about the Culinary “Arts” is that part of it is actually, ART!  It takes talent to feed the masses and keep everyone’s tummies happy.

The Chef’s Tables were introduced in 2017 to give guests a chance to experience unique menus created by the Executive Chef (currently Chef Rylan Krause) with the student chefs tapping in for the dessert and sorbet.  These lavish dinners are prepared right before your eyes!   Sports fans have giant events in arenas, foodies have Chef Tables!

This has mainly been an experience where you get together about 10 friends and you dedicate an evening to experiencing a decadent meal.  Beginning in January of 2020, Ernest’s will be offering the chance to purchase individual spots at the table.  Exciting news!

For only $135 per person, you get to experience a personal kitchen tour, custom wine pairing, and group dinner service.  This is with front row seats to all of the action; much like a sporting event.  You will need to set aside at least 3 hours for one of these experiences.

Please note that the ticket price does not include GST.  The “service charge” is an 18% gratuity.

Upcoming dates for these special events are as follows:

January 16th
February 27th
March 18th
April 16th

Your seating area is decadently set with an almost confusing amount of cutlery, plates and glasses.  Don’t worry, I have a few fancy military mess dinners under my belt!  Use the utensils from the outside, working your way to the inside, then from the top down.  Make sense?

Since we all eat with our eyes, be sure to check out the gallery below of the food served at my Chef’s Table.  It was beyond delicious and so beautiful. This is a perfect date night activity.

The Dark Cherry Sorbet was the most beautiful plating of the evening in my opinion.  The chocolate painted on the plate reminded me of some beautiful henna that I had done a couple of summers ago.

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Thank you to the Chefs and all of the student chefs.  It was so much food I had to tap out before the last two courses.  There was still a cheese plate and a dessert that I didn’t get the opportunity to photograph for you.

For the budget conscious, this is an amazing opportunity to have the fine dining experience at an affordable price.  For the adventurous, it’s “a la carte” but with the quality that Ernest’s students put out, you won’t be disappointed.

Biera – The Classy Gastropub

Biera – The Classy Gastropub

Biera is a local brew pub located inside Ritchie Market.  ( 95 Street and 76 Avenue) Blind Enthusiasm is the brand name behind the brews. Biera is where you can go to enjoy the beer as well as locally sourced and crafted small plates.

Ritchie Market also houses Acme Meat Market and Transcend Coffee.  These two wonderful local producers are used in the menu for Biera.

Not your normal “gastro pub”.  This is a great date night because the menu is based around plates for sharing.   They have won awards for “best new restaurant” on their first year and continue to win accolades. The team is passionate about their beer and their food, and it shows!

The ambience is a little higher class than a normal pub.  I love the funky, minimalist, up-cycled “industrial” feel of the decor.  It is a very community based atmosphere. It has a bit of a hipster vibe. Reservations are recommended; this place is popular.

Sample flights are available if you can’t decide what you want to try, or just want to try it all!

Chef Christine Sandford is the creative force behind the menu. Culina Mill Creek and De Superette in Belgium are a couple of the places where she used to create.  You can see the European influence on the Biera menu.

Locally sourced ingredients on the menu include: Prairie Gardens, Vital Greens Organic Dairy, Acme Meat Market, Bonjour Bakery, Effing Seafoods, Meuwly’s, Galimax Trading, Mo-Na Foods, Grain Works, August Organics, Seasons Harvest, Blue Hour Tea, and Color de Vino.

Good food that is locally sourced is going to be a bit more expensive.  Be prepared to shell out about $50 per person for a couple of drinks and food.  That being said, it is worth every penny! The presentation is absolutely stunning and the food is amazing and delicious.

The menu choices are a very unique selection of textures and flavours.  The staff is very friendly and knowledgeable with the beer and the menu.

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They have the best tartare that I have had the pleasure of eating in this city.  A blend of various cuts, including the heart to add texture, and flavour. It is made even more delicious by a ring of smoked, rendered fat around the mound of meat.  If you are a fan, try it! I hope that you love it as much as I do.

We also tried the Boudin Noir with Pink Lady apple, rosehip and oxalis.  This was also beautifully plated and delicious. It is a version of blood sausage.  This paired very well with the “ZestyZee” with banana and spice notes.

Dessert was Goat Kefir Curd Tart; with Elderflower meringue & pink lady apple.  It was again beautifully plated. This was a nice, light and not overpoweringly sweet dish.  The elderflower meringue offered a nice texture change and the apples gave it a bit of tartness. It was a pretty plate to end a taste experience.

Upstairs is the “Barrel Room” dedicated to melding beer with the flavors of wine and spirit barrels next to The Community Table, a room reserved for special events, with charities being a particular focus.

Located just blocks away, “The Monolith”, a brewery and barrel house designed from the ground up to create barrel-aged sour beers via spontaneous fermentation.

If you are a beer person like myself, this is an awesome place to enjoy some very creative brews!






Mac’n at the Mac – Hotel Macdonald #YEGfoodblogs Cookoff

Mac’n at the Mac – Hotel Macdonald #YEGfoodblogs Cookoff

When I received the invitation to attend the Food Bloggers Cook-off, I was excited and intimidated at the same time.  Excited for the opportunity to spend time with Chef Jost and intimidated by his prestigious reputation.  Chef has been with the Fairmont group of hotels for over 15 years and trained in Strasbourg, France.  His cuisine is phenomenal.

The Mac sent out a tweet with a copy of this picture attached:

Fairmont Hotel Macdonald Foodbloggers Cook-off

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Fairmont Hotel Macdonald – The New Festive Menu

Fairmont Hotel Macdonald – The New Festive Menu

The Fairmont Hotel Macdonald has been an Edmonton landmark since 1915.  Lovingly referred to as “The Mac”, the Hotel Macdonald has been a statement of luxury and a host to royalty, political leaders and entertainers alike.  The Mac is rich in history and one of the very few places in Edmonton to have a “High Tea” experience.

I was delighted to hear that The Mac has brought Edmonton’s very first canine ambassador – “Smudge”.  Smudge was in training to be a guide dog for the blind, but was deemed to be too anxious and distracted to continue in the program.  Smudge then started her hospitality career.  She has been a canine ambassador for the Algonquin in New Brunswick and the St. Andrews in Scotland.  When I was invited to the “Mac Festive” event, I was really looking forward to meeting Smudge!

Mission Accomplished:

Canine Ambassador, Smudge

Smudge was warm and welcoming with a wagging tail for all!

The staff at The Mac is just as warm and welcoming as Smudge.  You are always made to feel at home when you visit The Mac.  Our event was held in the Confederation Lounge with live music and a crackling fireplace. There was a lovely variety of refreshments offered, but the Pomegranate Poinsettia was so pretty to look at that I couldn’t resist.

Pomegranate Poinsettia

This was made for me by the bartender and she described all of the ingredients that went into it. Pomegranate juice, vodka and a splash of sparkling white wine. This was garnished with cranberries, a slice of lime and fresh mint. It was very festive and refreshing.

Chef Serge Jost was at the Mac Festive event to greet all of the participants and offer them a very tasty lobster bisque with cognac creme .  He expressed that he liked to meet all of the media at these events.  It was nice to be able to chat with Chef Jost, it gave the experience a more personal touch.  He has been with The Mac since the end of August.  Welcome to Edmonton Chef Jost, it was lovely to meet you!

I was lucky enough to have my two wonderful dining companions; Linda and Teresa.  We are most familiar in the Twitterverse and it is always a pleasure to spend time with them.  My first tasting plate was the Foie Gras Torchon.

Foie Gras Torchon
Beautiful presentation!  This was a great mixture of textures and flavours.  The Foie Gras had a silky mouth feel and was my favourite from the evening.

Next up was the Crab Cake Slider.  This was served with a miso, fennel slaw and sriracha ketchup.

Crab Cake Slider

The crab was tender and the coating crispy.  The sriracha ketchup gave it a slight kick.

Enochi Mushroom

Pictured above is Enochi served with spiced squash puree and crispy sage.  Again, a lovely marriage of textures and flavours.

Steelhead Trout

Above is the house-cured Steelhead Trout served on a Quinoa Bellini.   I am a huge salmon fan.  This was a nice change in flavour.

Venison Carpaccio

I was lucky growing up to be very acquainted with the flavours of wild meat.  However, I did not learn how to cook it properly until well into adulthood.  Besides the beautiful presentation, the meat was moist and flavourful.

Dessert Platter

And to finish the evening off, a selection of desserts.  Here we have from left to right the Cherry Shortbread, the Ice Wine Gelee and Candy Cane Fudge.  My favourite was the Ice Wine Gelee.

Egg Nog Creme Brulee

Crème Brulee and Panna Cotta are two quick ways to my heart. The Crème Brulee above was Eggnog served with a gingerbread madeleine.  This dessert was absolutely breathtaking!  Perfect texture and the eggnog flavour married to the gingerbread madeleine – a marriage made in heaven!

If you would like to experience a truly wonderful culinary experience with your family or your loved ones, the Hotel Macdonald is always a sure bet!  The service is top notch and always welcoming.  The environment is comfortable and luxurious.  Chef Jost and his team are creative and try to locally source ingredients wherever possible.  His French influence adds delicious twists to the food that is presented on all of the menus.

The Mac has many different festive holiday options available.  Please visit their website for more information.

Many thanks to The Mac and their team for another wonderful tasting experience!

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