Many thanks Crystal (from Crystal's Bird Toys)
Many thanks Crystal (from Crystal's Bird Toys)
Last year was my first time attending the Carefor Brunch and Chocolate Competition. I tried downplaying the chocolate part of the event, insisting that I bought tickets to help support Carefor, a not-for-profit home health care organization that offers accessible home care and community support services. But I was there for the chocolate, the fact I was helping a charity was well, chocolate icing on top of the chocolate cake!
I guess I did such a great job Twittering and judging for the People's Choice Award that I was invited to sit along side Executive Chef Michael Blackie (Le Café), Food Editor Ron Eade (Ottawa Citizen), Chef/Instructor Herve Chabert (Cordon Bleu) and fellow food bloggers Don & Claire (foodiePrints). Sharing the stage with such great food talent was humbling but I wasn't about to let it deter me from my task of tasting chocolate dessert!
This year there were nine competitors vying for the Judge's and People's Choice Award which meant that I had to taste nine plated chocolate desserts - sounds horrible, huh? Desserts included flourless cakes, ganache, truffles, macarons, complicated layers, nutella chocolate combinations and savoury combinations like chocolate dipped bacon and foie gras Ferreira Rocher.
As judges we were hidden away as the competitors brought out plates and tastings were done without knowing who did what. This was my first time judging a food competition so I did my best to gauge flavours and technique but when it came to taste I asked myself if I would want to eat the whole dessert. Out of the nine there was only one that met that criteria and I wasn't the only one who thought it tasted as good as it looked. Top of the Hill Bakery, owned by Chef Jeff Stoveld, won both the Judge's Choice and People's Choice Award becoming only the second competitor to win both in the competition's eight year history.
Carefor exceeded their goal of raising over $35,000 through ticket sales, raffles and auctions. Although not even a month has gone by I can't wait for next year's competition. Will former champions Pasticceria Gelateria Italiana and Sucré Salé challenge Top of the Hill? Will there be another new challenger with flavours and technique strong enough to win both awards? I can't wait to find out be it as a judge or attendee!
A Juicy Lucy/Jucy Lucy is a cheeseburger that has the cheese stuffed inside the meat patty. When cooked the cheese turns into molten cheese lava and bursts out scalding your face/mouth if you don't let it cool before you bite in. When you do let it cool and the cheese soaks deep into the beef, it's a wonderful combination that makes you wonder why you ever put cheese on top of a patty.
Instead of ground chuck I used beef short ribs; separated the meat from bone and hand ground the meat using my medieval looking grinder, a present from the boyfriend (some girls get jewelry, some get meat grinders). If you don't have your own meat grinder you can ask your butcher (very nicely) if they can grind the short ribs for you or you can use regular ground hamburger to construct your Juicy Lucy's.
Yellow fever, found in parts of Africa, Central America and South America, is a disease caused by the yellow fever virus and is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. It causes jaundice (hence the name), flu-like symptoms, respiratory and organ failure and can cause death in 23% of infected people. Fear not! If you are willing to travel to areas where mosquitoes are trying to kill you a safe vaccine is available. It'll simply cost you $135, a Doctor's appointment and the inconvenience of having a needle poked in your arm.
Since I will be travelling to Brazil for 3 weeks in June andmy intenerary has me in the bug infested Amazon (almost 30 million species live there!), I booked an appointment, tolerated the needle and walked out of the clinic with my International Vaccination Certificate in one hand, anti-Malaria prescription in the other. Defense against mosquito-borne diseases? Check!
Then the side effects came, at first a rash that broke out during an evening gym session (there's nothing more attractive than a girl attempting an 85lb bench press while scratching her arm pit). Then reappearing a few days later after the boyfriend's birthday party (St. Patrick's Day), masking itself in hangover symptoms - nausea, headache, vomiting but revealing itself with joint pain, loss of appetite and fever.
Two sick days, 10 lost pounds and countless episodes of Man V. Food watched I'm mostly better. I'm a little worried though; it's an ominous start to a dream vacation.