Wow, it’s been over a month since my last post. Oops. Hopefully you’ve noticed I’m still alive, eating well and half documenting it through my other social media accounts! If not, better start following my Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. I’m everywhere. Although sometimes MIA on here… Anyways, I’m excited to be back from my trip to Seoul and settling in after a weekend of Thanksgiving eats. Hope everybody had a wonderful break!
Last week, Linda Hoang, social media queen and fellow foodie, invited me to NAIT’s EAT. LEARN. CELEBRATE. event – a showcase of NAIT food and all that they have to offer! Super honored to be included in the festivities.
I’ll keep this nice and short, I’m not one for complex words (I’m no journalist!), but rather, I’ll leave you with photos of everything I ate that night. Along with a lovely group of foodies and food bloggers (Andrea, Brittney, Dajana, Linda, and Michelle), we sampled everything from the artisan meats, cheeses, and breads of the students from the NAIT Culinary Arts Program, learned about the international award-winning Culinary Team NAIT, and tasted the new fall menu of NAIT’s own Ernest’s Dining Room, a dining experience certainly underrated in our city! At the end of the post, a quick view of their Retail Meat Store as well.
It’s only fitting that one of the first things we ate was one of my favorites: charcuterie. Guests were invites to station-style displays of NAIT’s Culinary Arts Program offerings of artisan meats, cheese, and breads, all made in-house by the students. We were given a brief run down of what the program entails by Perry Michetti, Associate Dean of NAIT’s School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts and sampled some amazing products. Did you know they even have a Retail Meat Shop to sell all their meat products? Makes sense. These students learn how to butcher, prep, marinade or cook, and package, so those products have to go somewhere! Scroll straight to the bottom to check out the Retail Meat Store. Alongside the meats, cheeses are also for sale and their freshly baked breads are sold at the Common Market next door. Absolutely amazing variety and one of the best products I’ve had in a while. Especially their breads, mmm. More on that later…
On the other side of the room, Culinary Team NAIT displayed some of their plates as they would for competitions. The team is a select group of students and instructors who compete at regional, national, and international levels, winning multitudes of awards for their plates. It’s absolutely amazing to see the work of some of these students, striving towards culinary excellence through the extracurricular program!
Varying methods of cooking were demonstrated as well, including flambéed shrimps and sous-vide lentils.
As if meats, cheese, and breads weren’t enough for me (trust me, I could eat boards like that everyday!), Linda gave us a quick tour of the NAIT kitchens, although a familiar setting for me. Not only do they serve as the training grounds for the NAIT Culinary Arts Program, they are the very kitchens that I learned my knife skills! I also happened to finish the other four courses (five total) of the NAIT Kitchen Skills Program and even take a sushi course with Joe last year for my birthday! NAIT also serves as host to the annual Eat Alberta event (read my recap here). Throughout the kitchens, tasting plates of Ernest’s fall menu were being served.
Some of the dishes we sampled: bison carpaccio with olive tapenade and baby kale and slow-cooked Irving’s pork cheeks on garlic crostini.
Then came the big guns. By far, these last three dishes were my favorites: pancetta wrapped scallop with truffle cauliflower purée; southern Quebec’s Brome Lake duck confit with orange marmalade and a cherry basil reduction; and pan seared Arctic char with citrus quinoa and a maple butter sauce. If you know me at all, you’ll know that I’m a sucker for duck. Make it a duck confit and you might as well just take away the menu from me because I will order it. And rightly so, if I was at Ernest’s Dining Room looking at their menu, the duck confit would be a winner. So frickin’ delicious! It’s going to be hard for me to try anything else when I come back. Maybe their lamb shank, which wasn’t sampled that night. Maybe. You can check their lunch and dinner menus on their website.
Food doesn’t just stop at dinner. There’s always room for dessert! For chronological sense, I actually rearranged my photos and descriptions here on the blog. We actually started with dessert first and walked around backwards (oops!). We ended with desserts though… a white chocolate crème brûlée and a delicately shaped milk chocolate mousse with Melba sauce tempted all of us for round 2.
Two things made this a super awesome event: 1) NAIT food. Everything I tried was delicious. Most noteworthy were the artisan breads and artisan cheeses (brie was to die for!) and the plates from Ernest’s were very refined and executed very well. Definitely need to drop by for lunch or reserve dinner at Ernest’s! And 2) my foodie comrades. It’s one thing to sample food with your usual friends and family, it’s another to go with foodies. I felt very much at home although I’ve only met these girls less than a handful of times. Makes me (+ my camera!) comfortable to be joined with many others just as, if not more, passionate about food than me!
There was also a giveaway at the end of the night for those who tweeted about the event. I was 1 of 3 randomly selected winners to receive a handcrafted baguette board from NAIT’s Millwork and Carpentry Program (um, awesome?!), and got to take home a loaf of caramelized hazelnut sourdough and French baguette! *SWOON* Thanks so much to the culinary team at NAIT, excellent food and excellent hospitality! Many thanks to Linda for inviting me to the event and to my fellow foodies for making it so enjoyable!
But wait! It doesn’t stop there. With all that bread, what was I to do?! I’m going to need more meats. More cheese. The next day I headed out before work to drop by the Retail Meat Store. You can find a map on the website as well as parking lots.
It’s actually quite quaint and a lot bigger than I had imagined! Better yet, the students are working right in front of you, butchering, prepping, and packaging! It’s a great experience and not only can you just stand there and watch them, if you have any questions about the product, this would be the ideal time to ask! Associate Dean Perry Michetti had told us that the products here are made with a secret ingredient. “Love?” I asked. “No, meat.”, he replied. All of their products are made of meat, no preservatives, no additives. And unless it’s specified (for example, breaded, or marinated), it’s just meat. I ended up buying fresh beef garlic sausages, spicy cheese sausages, and a small round of brie (hurray!) for a steal of a price! A ring of sausage was less than $4! What?! Anyways. Definitely a hidden gem. Next door is the Common Market, a cafeteria for NAIT students, where you can find more pastries and breads (unpictured, I had enough bread!). Can literally build your own charcuterie board using only housemade NAIT food products. Love! Make sure you go check it out!
Retail Meat Store
NAIT Main Campus
11762 – 106 Street
10 a.m.–2 p.m.
mid-September to mid-December
mid-January to mid-April Ernest’s Dining Room
11762 – 106 Street
Monday through Thursday – a la carte
Reservations 11:30 a.m.–12:15 p.m.Friday – Student Showcase Buffet – ($30.00 Inclusive)
Reservations 11:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m.Dinner
Tuesday through Friday – a la carte
Reservations 6:00 p.m. –7:30 p.m.*No buffets October 10, 2014, November 14, 2014, January 9, 2015, February 13, 2015, and March 27, 2015
Regular Service will be closed for the Christmas Break between December 15, 2014 -January 11, 2015
Summer closure starts on April 25, 2014