Foodie firsts at the 2012 Canadian Chefs’ Congress

See that little white and black thing? That’s bowhead whale meat. Yes, I ate whale. And that’s just one of many firsts I experienced during my time at the Canadian Chefs’ Congress in Grand Pre these past few days.

From Sunday through Wednesday morning, we camped at the stunning Evangeline Beach in Grand Pre (Annapolis Valley) for the third Canadian Chefs’ Congress.

Since I ate SO MUCH food, and saw so many different things, and met so many chefs, I’m going to highlight only my five foodie firsts, as experienced during the congres

1. Tasted bowhead whale, on a bed of sea vegetables, accompanied by a turbot ceviche spoon and wild arctic char gravlax (pictured above). If you’re wondering if I enjoyed the whale… the answer is “no”. (Hard, chewy and not very flavourful).

2. Ate a fish taco made with hand-rolled and grilled on-site bannock. Again this was arctic char, and had a delicious homemade hot sauce in there.

3. Shucked my first oyster at the PEI booth during the Best of Country Luncheon. It wasn’t as hard as I thought!

4. Ate elk loin and duck sausage. Kale two ways (crispy and with hemp butter) and a bit of heat on the plate really made this colourful looking dish come alive. Yum.

5. Tried whole-roasted pig from an outdoor spit. This baby roasted for about seven hours and still was a little pink – but I got one small end piece that was crispy, and pretty tasty!

Those along with churning ice cream for the first time made for a pretty interesting and amazing Chefs’ Congress experience. I’m lucky I got to go along for the ride!

For more photos of the dozens of unique dishes I tried, visit my Facebook page.

Juicy burgers, crispy clams

Clam po’ boy

Friday: lunch time. We’re driving back from an appointment in Dartmouth, and the office can wait a bit longer.

“Should we go for lunch?”

“Can you think of somewhere that we’ve been wanting to try…?”

“Let me think,”

“I want to make this one count.”

Got it.

“We’ll be in the north end already as we get off the bridge. Let’s try Ace Burger Co. It’s inside Gus’ Pub.”

Done.

We walked in business casual, feeling a little over-dressed, but were enthusiastically greeted and well-served by the girl behind the cash-only burger counter inside the local institution that is Gus’ Pub.

Not much else to say about this north end hangout; it’s a favourite amongst a range of different groups: hipsters, journalists, locals who don’t want to run into pretentious people, and hard ticket-types… pretty much anyone can walk through the doors. It’s your typical dive bar, but with a bit more character. There’s a stage for live music in the corner, worn tables and chairs, barely any local beer, a glass room full of VLTs, and… a burger counter.

A lovely, delicious burger counter.

I had been eyeing this clam po’ boy since I read through the menu at Ace Burger’s kiosk at the Tall Ships food fare. (Which by the way had a kick-ass seafood burger… that I had more than once).

I went for the po’ boy right away, while Geir looked at the menu and went for the deluxe. You can check out a photo of his burger below… I took one bite of it. It was juicy. It was delicious. It was everything you’d imagine a cheeseburger to be.

My po’ boy was awesome. I love NS clams to begin with, and to combine them with the smoked tartar sauce, lettuce, pickled onions, and the kaiser… it had crispy, rich, creamy, crunchy, cool, refreshing and soft all goin’ on. I loved it.

We both added hand-cut fries, although we could have split one order. They were a bit on the greasy side but very enjoyable.

I sipped on an individual size Trinity Gold Lemonade with my lunch – another great local company.

I like what Ace Burger Co. is all about. I hope they do well inside the pub… it would be hard to resist a juicy burger and an order of those fries after a few drinks at a live show there…

You should check it out.