I recently attended FishSauce, a fundraiser for the Canadian Red Cross. The dinner was held at Selkirk Grill at Heritage Park. The crew of chefs volunteering their time and talent included: Roy Oh from Anju; Michael Allemeier from SAIT; Cam Dobranski from Brassiere Kensington; Liana Robberecht from Calgary Petroleum Club; Justin Leboe from Model Milk; Jan Hansen from Heritage Park Historical Village; and Duncan Ly from Hotel Arts. Sponsors included: City Fish; Joie Farm; Crush Import; City Fish; and Bon Vida Wines.
Peaches and I arrived too late to enjoy the amuse bouche of hand rolled gnocchi with blue cheese veloute and smoked almonds. However, we did get a glass of Canaletto Prosecco Vino Spumante Brut from Crush Import. I also sampled Cam Dobranski’s ahi tuna tartare with celery, orange aioli, Marash pepper on top of a duck fat potato chip. I find that often, when hors d’oeuvres are circulated around a room, by the time it gets to you it is past its prime. Not the case with the ahi tuna tartare. The fish was fresh and cool on the tongue while the chip was crisp. I was so impressed with the tartare that I reminded myself I need to revisit Brasserie Kensington.
Peaches and I sat down at an empty table, only to be unceremoniously booted seconds later by a group of diners that reportedly reserved the table. However, we never saw a reserve sign on the table. No worries, this was a fundraiser and I wasn’t interested in getting into a rumble. I must be a nice person because karma rewarded my non confrontational behaviour. Peaches and I ended up in the much more pleasant company of Mark Bata and Andrew Jones, the partners of Bon Vida wines, along with other fun spirited Calgarians.
There was a total of five courses, each paired with a wine from Joie Farm. The first course was chilled coconut scallops and pad Thai spagetti squash by Chef Liana Robberecht. This cold appetizer was light and refreshing. Peaches mentioned the scallops were almost like sashimi. Considering how much she loves her sashimi, this was a compliment. The appetizer was paired with Joie Farm Noble Blend VQA 2012. Mark told me that City Fish is one of the top food wholesalers in Calgary. After sampling the variety of seafood throughout the night, I’m not surprised.
The second course was foie gras parfait, smoked maple glaze, shaved and compressed raw vegetables, and charred brioche by Chef Justin Leboe. Damn – this dish was amazing. The parfait was silky soft and creamy, a contrast to the raw, crunchy pistachios. I grabbed two dinner rolls to scrape every bit of the parfait off my plate. The portion was more than enough for one person and very rich tasting. I wonder if the parfait is on Model Milk’s regular menu?
The third course was prawn and tofu agnolotti, Thai basil pesto, serrano pepper oil, gochugaru oil, and parmesan by chefs Roy Oh and Michael Allemeier. Two years ago, my graduation dinner at Roy’s restaurant, Anju, inspired me to start blogging about great restaurants in Calgary. So it was no shock to me that Roy rocked it with the prawn and tofu combination. It tasted like a refine version of my favourite dim sum dish, fried tofu and shrimp mousse. There was a spicy heat to the ravoli, which I enjoyed. The prawn was large, crunchy, and sweet. Shivers rang through my spine when I bit into the perfectly cooked and seasoned prawn. No, I wasn’t have a back spasm, rather, a food moment. This dish was paired with a glass of Joie Farm Riesling VQA 2012.
The fourth course was butter poached lobster, beef tenderloin, pomme puree, rainbow carrots, and black truffle jus by Chef Jan Hansen. This dish was gorgeous. Generous pieces of fresh lobster draped against the beef. The sauces and the remaining ingredients were artistically put together. The beef was tender and flavourful while the taste of the black truffle in the jus was subtle. The lobster and beef were paired with Joie Farm Pinot, 2010. This was my favourite wine of the night, which surprised me because I generally find pinots too subtle for my taste.
The fifth course was deconstructed creme brulee with hisbiscus meringue and sugar shards by Duncan Ly. I normally skip dessert but I had to try it. The dessert tasted just the way it looked – delicately flavoured, flowery and subtly sweet. Another dish too pretty to eat, and another restaurant I need to check out with Peaches. Tea or coffee was served with dessert.
Service was stellar, and to boot, all the servers that worked for the FishSauce event generously volunteered their time. There was plenty of delicious wine (love you Crush Imports) and superb courses. Truly, every single sponsor, chef and server at the FishSauce event exceeded my expectation.
I’m proud to be a resident in Calgary. The response of small businesses, politicians, emergency workers, police, fire department, and locals during and after the flood is inspirational. FishSauce was another example of the spirit, generosity and heart of Calgarians. Thank you to the talented chefs, members of the service industry, wholesalers and everyone else that donated their time and resources to raise just over $18,000 dollars for Red Cross.