Cross-posted from Calgary is Awesome.
The judges were split into two groups and each group judged the dishes/products from three categories. Our group got "Best Use of Local Ingredients", "Best Gut-Buster" and "Best Sweet" while the other group got "Most Creative", "Best Meat Dish" and "Best Non-Meat Dish".
Best Use of Local Ingredients
The first competitor in this category was Silver Sage Beef with their Rib Steak.
Julie took a second helping.
The next dish was Yum Bakery's Okanagan Chardonnay Poached Pear Tart.
The winner of the Golden Spatula for Best Use of Local Ingredients was the Market Vegetable Galette from Le Petit Mousse.
Dan brought it to the table, especially since the staff didn't even seem to know that we were coming to judge! Everything was still hot and fresh when we dug in to the thin buckwheat pancake, filled with hot, crisp vegetables, all from the market - mushrooms, green beans, onions, tomato... This thing was packed! A deserving win.
I think people generally associate the farmers' market with eating local and healthy, some of the vendors turned out some decidedly indulgent treats for this category!
First up was the tiramisu from Crazy Pasta. While I would've thought to enter this in the "Best Sweet" category, it was obvious why they decided to enter it as a "gut-buster" - the portions were generous and there was a lot of thick, creamy mascarpone cheese!
The Wombat Combat Fries from Big D's Smokehouse was a true gut buster! The 1.3 lb behemoth was fries layered with pulled pork, brisket, cheddar, monterey jack and coleslaw, topped with a scoop of gravy and a sprinkle of green onions.
Compared to the Wombat Combat Fries, the poutine from A Taste of Quebec seemed quite tame. It tasted OK, but the fries and gravy were nothing out of the ordinary, and the cheese curds didn't even squeak! The judges from the other group did note that their smoked meat sandwiches (Best Meat Dish category) were very delicious.
The winner of the Golden Spatula for Best Gut-Buster was 2 Greek Gals's moussaka.
This was a huge category, and as someone who doesn't really have a sweet tooth, it was at times a little overwhelming to judge!
We kicked things off at Cruffs, who went out of their way to make special dishes just for Sundown Chowdown. We got four plates on their take on a réligieuse, a French pastry that is essentially two cream puffs stacked on top of each other, with the one on the bottom being larger. The arrangement is supposed to look like a nun ("réligieuse" in French) wearing a habit. The other group got to try a savoury, duck confit cream puff.
Next up was the galaktoboureko from Two Greek Gals.
I unfortunately wasn't able to snap a photo of Miss P's Gluten Free's Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcake. It definitely rivalled the cupcakes at any cupcake shop in both appearance and taste, with its tender, moist chocolate base and mile-high swirl of peanut butter icing sprinkled with chocolate crumbs. I definitely would not have guessed that it was gluten-free!
Next we tasted the blintzes from Margarita's Dishes. If you don't look carefully, you might think that Margarita's is a Mexican restaurant (especially since it's right by Los Chilitos in the food court), but Margarita is actually the lovely lady who serves up Eastern European comfort food like borscht and perogies along with her son who mans the till.
The presentation of the Persian-Spiced Apple Turnover from Orchid Pastry, a French-Persian fusion patisserie, was beautiful and delicate.
Yum Bakery's entry into the Best Sweet category was their Chocolate Caramel Tart with Australian Sea Salt, which I drool over (but had never tried) every time I walk by their display at the market.
Éclair de Lune entered two desserts in the "Best Sweets" category, the first being a lemon tart which reminded me of one I had at Manuel Latruwe. It was quite well-received by lemon dessert lover Gwendolyn, but I personally found it a little too sweet.
The winner for me (and everyone else, apparently) was Éclair de Lune's second entry, the Chocolate Mousse & Hazelnut Praline Cake (there is a fancy French name that they have for it, but I don't remember what it is)
Like I said, I am totally grateful to John for inviting me to be a judge, and to Amanda at the Farmers' Market for organizing the event from the vendor judging to the food trucks! It was awesome to have the opportunity to try all these foods that I typically wouldn't stop to eat! Although I didn't get to judge the trucks, I did pop by before my kickboxing class that day and had a few bites before rushing off :)
As to how the other judges made out, joining the above vendors for the Golden Spatulas:
Most Creative Dish - Stuffed Beef Heart from Silver Sage Beef (I had a bite of this after the rib steak and it was really good!
Best Meat Dish - Grilled Platter from Shef's Fiery Kitchen
Best Non-Meat Dish - Borscht from Margarita's Kitchen
As for the trucks, the Golden Hubcaps went to:
Most Creative Dish - Herc Burger from Vasili's
Best Use of Local Ingredients - The Panchy Pig from The Naaco Truck
Best Meat Dish - Chicken and Chorizo Enfrijoladas from Los Compadres
Best Non-Meat Dish - Deep Fried Pickles from The Blue's Can
Fries and Dolls
Best Sweet - Wedding Cake Topper from Jelly Modern Doughnuts