Northern (California) by northwest (Alberta, Canada)

Above: A bold, head-turning feat from Charcut’s Connie DeSousa in her creation of tender charcuterie.

While Toronto, Montréal and Vancouver have long been the hubs of all things cultural and culinary in Canada, cities in Canada’s heartland are fast catching up with the east and the coast when it comes to fresh ingredients and creativity. This year’s Canada Media Market-place provided inspiration from coast to coast, not only prompting trips to ‘The World Next Door’, but also bringing the eclectic north to the dinner table and the cocktail party.

Justin Leboe’s Cold Steelhead chowder (and it’s vegetarian!)
Rather than hit a restaurant for the closing night festivities, the savvy event planners transformed the very homey Alexis Laurent Studio in San Francisco’s South of Market district into a compact version of the fabulous Taste of Calgary Festival (taking place on the heels of the celebrated and now century-old Calgary Stampede every summer).

   Guests were greeted with hearty (artery clogging and fantastic) Alley burgers and poutine (below) from the Alley Burger Food Truck at the gallery’s front door. A conversation starter from the get-go, especially as the truck drove four days to get to San Francisco!
   However, the trick was saving room for all the fantastic food and drink inside, prepared tapas-style so you could enjoy every bite: Justin Leboe’s Cold Steelhead chowder, Bernard Callebaut’s delectable chocolate, seafood from Kyle Groves of Catch, Bishwa Pati’s sticky toffee pudding, Connie DeSousa’s head-turning charcuterie (cured right inside a pig’s head) and an unexpected dose of surf and turf from Paul Rogalski of Rouge.

Above left: Abalone and duck by Paul Rogalski, a new way to see surf and turf. Above right: Bishwa Pati’s sticky toffee situation above, which pairs perfectly with Phil and Sebastian’s Coffees.

   As a good host should, all guests were considered when the planners hashed out the event’s theme, bringing one of Calgary’s great outdoor fêtes indoors. Designated drivers would appreciate Phil Robertson and Sebastian Sztabzyb artisanal coffee (served without cream or sugar to really taste the roast. There was also a vegetarian spread as well as breakfast-perfect fare from Aviv Fried of the Sidewalk Citizen Bakery.
   Finally, you could wash it all down with the creations of Scotsman Colin Tait, lead mixologist at Calgary hotspot Hotel Arts.

Energy Daisy Cocktail
Colin Tait, Raw Bar, Calgary

2 oz Spicebox whisky-infused coffee
1 oz simple syrup
1 oz Cherry Apple Gastric*

Shaken over ice with apple garnish.

* Editor’s note: you can also use Maraschino Originale Luxardo or Cherry Heering liqueur.

Orange rosewater punch with Spicebox whisky
An approximation inspired by the creation of Colin Tait, Raw Bar, Calgary

1 750 ml bottle Spicebox
1 quart orange lemon juice blend
¼ to ½ cup sugar
1 cup rosewater
Generous dash of gum syrup
Orange slices for garnish

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