Cross-posted from Calgary is Awesome.
On Thursday I had the honour of being invited to the Rouge & White Garden Party hosted by Rouge Restaurant, a fundraiser benefitting the Hotchkiss Brain Institute. A large red-and-white tent was set up in the Rouge garden, and people dressed up in their best red and white outfits (with a bit of a Stampede twist) to attend the carnival-themed event. There was a man juggling on stilts (who made me walk under them... awkward), a face painter, a girl doing tricks with a hula hoop, a tarot card reader, and of course, lots and lots of good food.
But first, after a long day at work, I couldn't help but make my way over to the bar, where I treated myself to a sangria. The bartender told me it had been stewing for three weeks, so it was extra boozy.
A few local chefs donated their time to this event, cooking up tasty appetizers for all the guests. Connie DeSousa and John Jackson from CHARCUT did a fancy version of the popular Stampede treat, the corndog, with a house-made turkey sausage studded with truffles and pistachios, battered and fried on the spot before drizzled with mustard.
I'm not sure if I should be ashamed or proud to admit that this was the first corndog I've ever had. Either way, my tastebuds were spoiled.
Derek Dammann of DNA Restaurant in Montreal flew in with an Asian-inspired dish - Braised Pork Belly with Pickled Watermelon Rind:
The pork belly simply melted in my mouth, but didn't taste greasy, and contrasted nicely with the sweet-and-sour pickled watermelon rind. I loved the Asian flavours in this from the sesame, chilis, basil, mint and cilantro. DNA is now on my must-try list if I'm ever back to my old stomping grounds!
Cam Dobranski and Xavier Lacaze from Muse, Brasserie Kensington and Winebar Kensington combined modern with classic, with some crisp, duck fat-fried potato chips and onion rings topped with a hearty cassoulet and queso fresco, served with a side of spicy aioli. This was definitely a favourite among the many foodies I ran into at the event.
SAIT Instructor Michael Allemeier, formerly of Teatro and Mission Hill Winery, served up one-bite appetizers of marinated cherry tomatoes and grilled queso fresco drizzled with pesto oil. I wasn't sure if I could finish it all in one bite, but I managed to get it all down!
Last but not least, the sous chefs at Rouge (Chef/Owner Paul Rogalski was schmoozing with all the guests) served up Ginger-Fried Sweetbreads:
Sweetbreads (usually the thymus glands of an animal) might be a little scary for some, but I've had them a couple times already so am somewhat familiar. In this dish, they looked and tasted sort of like chicken, except with a deeper, meatier flavour. Again, I liked the Asian flavours and the sweet-and-sour crisp slaw on top.
Aside from the food stations, servers walked around with additional treats like sliders, pork tacos, snow cones and churros... we were definitely stuffed and spoiled!
I had a really good time at the event and hope this will become an annual festival... I'm excited to hear how much Paul and his team have raised for the Hotchkiss Brain Institute!