Great Plains Bison – photo – Karen Anderson
I love to ask the people I meet, What is Alberta’s food? Inevitably the answer is, Beef – of course. I bring this up because I think it illuminates our lack of knowledge of our food heritage.
Beef is not an original Alberta species. It is an exotic import. It was brought to Alberta from Scotland via Montana before there were fences – about 150 plus years ago. The Great Plains Bison, Elk and White Tail deer evolved with this land and are perfectly suited for it. They are Alberta’s indigenous species. They have been here for tens of thousands of years.
Alberta also grows great grains. Red Fife Wheat is one of them. We are one of the world’s largest honey producers. We have really sweet root vegetables and Prairie hardy fruits like Saskatoon berries. Our Canola oil is as luscious gold as its flowers when it is cold-pressed and organic. And, yes, we really do grow the world’s biggest and tastiest beef.
We’ve discussed the WHAT, WHO, WHERE and WHEN of Cook it Raw, this post will explore the WHY> If Cook it Raw were only the chance to have more people at home, and around the globe, realize the bounty of wonderful products in Alberta, that would be enough of a WHY for me. Still, I asked Alessandro Porcelli of Cook it Raw for his answer to WHY and I asked Fraser Abbott of Alberta Culinary Tourism Alliance as well. This post gives their answers as well as a few recipes inspired by the world-class produce of Alberta.
Mount Engadine Lodge – photo courtesy of Karen Fitzgerald at Mount Engadine Lodge
Mount Engadine Lodge in Kananaskis Country near Canmore, Alberta is WHERE the 22 chefs of Cook it Raw’s #rawAlberta are gathering.
I spent a few days there this summer. The Lodge holds exactly 22 guests and sits perched over a meadow where a moose comes each evening to a natural saltlik. He’s not exactly like clockwork but he shows up and is nonplussed by the fuss he creates as the lodge guests watch in fascination as he lowers his heavy rack of horns between sprawled knobbly knees to taste the earth. He is vulnerable to be sure. I hope 22 hungry chefs don’t take on a moose hunt as part of their “raw” experience. Right now they actually have a lot in common. They’re putting themselves out there and they are bringing us a taste of this place.
This post will share some photos of WHERE the #rawAlberta chefs are sequestered. And, it will also share the details of a Public event WHERE you can meet all the #rawAlberta chefs and taste the dishes they’re creating using 7 great Alberta ingredients.
Alessandro Porcelli, the founder of Cook It Raw in the garden at Rouge Calgary – photo – Karen Anderson
In the previous post I answered the question, WHAT is Cook it Raw? This post looks at WHO is involved in Cook it Raw. Future posts will answer the other W’s in W5.
If you have no idea WHAT Cook it Raw is, this blog post is for you.
Watching the video above is a great place to start learning about Cook it Raw. Check it out and see if, while you’re learning about WHAT Cook it Raw is, you can also find seven Alberta food products that you might be quite familiar with but that the rest of the world might know very little about. That’s a pretty big hint about the answer to WHAT this is all about, by the way.
Don’t have time to watch the gorgeous video by Edmonton cinematographer Kevin Kossowan? Nah – go back and watch it. It’ll make you want to get on a plane to Lac LaBiche, Alberta – even if you have no idea where in the world that is. Hey, wait, that’s another clue to WHAT Cook it Raw is all about! Let’s cut to the chase.
Cook it Raw is a group of local and internationally-renowned chefs who gather to discover and articulate the essence of diverse and emerging culinary locations throughout the world. They are just winding up six months of intensive work in Alberta this very week. This is only the ninth time there’s been such a gathering since the inception of the program in 2009.
To learn more, read on and as an incentive to do so, I’ll give you the answer to exactly WHAT the seven truly Albertan ingredients are at the end of this post.
New Brunswick is an inside job. Those of us from there return frequently. We bring family and friends. That’s most of the tourism.
The rest of the world considers our little corner of Canada a drive-through on the way to Maine or Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia or Quebec. I hope that you’ll at least take a moment to watch the video above to see what’s NOT right in front of all those drivers on our highways.
We insiders are quite smug. We’ve had a lifetime to tootle off on spontaneous detours, troll the waterways and drive the ridgeways of this densely forested, fertile valleyed, and largely coastal province. We are quite content to keep our bit of paradise to ourselves.
But then again, if you did decide to STOP and enjoy our province with us, we’d be okay with that too. It does keep our loved ones employed.
This video happens to be of my hometown, St. Andrews-by-the-Sea, New Brunswick. There’s no special effects, it really is this stunningly beautiful.
Gotta go. Need to call home. Suddenly missing the people who taught me to savour it all.
Bar Snacks at Vij’s Restaurant – photo – Karen Anderson
The first thing I do when I arrive in Vancouver is to make my way to Vij’s Restaurant. Vikram Vij is a food hero of mine. He runs one of the most hospitable food establishments ANYWHERE.
Vij’s and lots of bakeries, eateries, food trucks and energetic activities kept me and my son hustling and happy on a recent visit. Our weekend in this pearl of a city on Canada’s Pacific Rim seemed to sneak up and pass us like a rogue wave. Good thing it started hot and spicy.
Canada Day cookies – photo – Karen Anderson
Cool thing #31 – The Millarville Races and
Cool thing #32 – The Calgary Stampede
2 more great reasons to Explore Alberta
I love that summer starts with a big bang in Calgary. We get dressed up in red and white for Canada Day…
Alberta meets Canada Day – photo – Karen Anderson
Volunteers are the true team Canada – photo – Karen Anderson
Canada Day fashion – photo – Karen Anderson
…and then we rock our maverick culture with an ode to western heritage for the 10 days of The Calgary Stampede. It’s the world’s largest outdoor show and one of the world’s largest music festivals.
This post will be a photo essay of how I usually spend Canada Day – at the Millarville Races – along with some food ideas for your own celebrations and then a quick look at the fun of our beloved Calgary Stampede.