Last year, I wrote an article on the Slow Food movement in Alberta (excerpt), and since then I’ve become increasingly interested in food, food security, sustainability, and of course, eating. I went to a fun event in the summer called Indulgence, which is a big food and wine event that takes place in a hotel ballroom. But there are smaller events, too. Northern Food Night was my first time getting cosy with my fellow Slow Food members.
This is its fourth year. One of the members, Steve Cooper, grew up in Igloolik and still goes there frequently, so he started the dinner to promote caribou and other wild meats. I waffled on going when it was announced, but at the last minute another diner dropped out and I bought the very last ticket! I am so glad I did.
I arrived at the Cooper/Campbell home in Sherwood Park. I knew I was at the right place because the smell in there was amazing! Steve’s wife Twyla was preparing food in the kitchen, Steve was out on the deck grilling fish, muskox and caribou. One of the kids placed slices of parmesan onto the muskox carpaccio:
There were bowls of dried meat (caribou, char, beef) and olives from Olive Me, B.C. wines (I didn’t note the name, but I did have a nice glass of something white) and Alley Kat beer, brought by the owners of Alley Kat themselves. This was a very diverse crowd, ranging from farmers (Mary Ellen and Andreas of Greens Eggs and Ham), Cyrus who is the husband of Kerstin of Kerstin’s Chocolates, and plenty of people who, like me, are just interested.
After chatting for a while, we were invited to the dining room for a buffet-style feast.
It was all gorgeous, and very plentiful! Chops of both muskox and caribou, grilled pickerel and char, tartare of both muskox and arctic char, muskox prosciutto and melon, muskox potstickers, whitefish caviar, char tarts, a cold char soup, smoked oysters (which, OK, are from B.C.), and muskox chili. Pictures!
I tried one of everything. This required two trips:
plate (and bowl) 2
Everything was amazing. Wild meats have so much flavour! I preferred muskox to caribou, but I won’t turn it down. The fish was beautifully cooked (planked on cedar and maple, or pan-fried), and the big surprise was maktaq. I really like it! It’s chewy and creamy, just like you’d imagine blubber to be. You can’t eat too much of it, but it’s a really amazing experience. Part of me feels a little bad about eating a whale, but it’s unlikely I’ll make a habit of it. Just for special.
Dessert was a saskatoon filled crepe with berry sorbet. And Andreas came around with a sample of duck pate, which they are working on bringing to market this season. Amazing flavour! I look forward to the final version. I forgot to take pictures, sorry! But I was having a really good time. And that’s the point of Slow Food: food as a way to get people together, to think about where our food comes from and support producers of local, sustainable products. All the meats were wild hunted or caught by people, not farmed by a corporation. I’ll start going to more of these things– there is a wild boar roast scheduled for mid-summer!