For the ninth installment of EGS, we met at Aaron and Sabrina’s shiny, new penthouse overlooking downtown Edmonton. We also had another special guest judge: Daylen. This is the second time we’ve invited a guest to help judge our meal, and it’s quickly turning into a delicious tradition.
Sabrina’s challenge for the first round was to come up with a one-bite appetizer (no frying allowed!). Each bite had to be paired with a vino that cost $20 or less.
Sabrina went first, serving up a seared scallop with an organic pea puree and a touch of ginger soy vinaigrette. To finish it off, each scallop was topped with micro chives and sesame seeds. Aaron paired it with Prosecco, everyone’s favourite faux champagne (I personally like it better than champers).
I made a baked baby potato coin topped with Alberta beef tenderloin, homemade horseradish creme fraiche, dill (thanks for the tip, Paul) and lemon zest. I was pleasantly surprised to find locally grown baby potatoes at the end of winter in Edmonton. Tim paired my bite with a bold $20 Australian shiraz – Angus The Bull.
Brendan and Kate took the Big Bite challenge and added a twist: Big Presentation. Brendan cooked up honey-glazed coconut shrimp with an apricot dip. Each shrimp was attached to a mini clothes line. The idea was adapted from this very cool cook book. Kate paired it wth a New Zealand white (Oyster Bay). The bottle and glasses chilled in a special “ice bucket” that Kate made for the occasion. All those bells and whistles helped push Brendan over the top (not to mention the extra shrimp!).
The main course was a difficult challenge: recreate a dish from a restaurant menu. The catch: the menu was emailed to the chefs two days before our cook-off. Sabrina’s friend Bruce picked the menu, which ended up being four menus from restaurants belonging to Edmonton’s Century Hospitality Group.
I went first, serving up a dish from Hundred Bar & Kitchen: pan seared salmon, green pea risotto, bacon hollandaise and arugula pesto. I used a Rob Feenie green pea risotto recipe, but it didn’t turn out well (too mushy). When in doubt, always use Jamie Oliver’s risotto recipe. I still haven’t found one that tops it. Tim paired it with a refreshing cocktail he invented: mango juice, San Pellegrino and vodka.
Sabrina went next, offering up gourmet baby back ribs with a homemade chipotle BBQ sauce. The sides were mashed potato spring rolls and grilled veggies. Inspired by a recent trip to Hawaii, Aaron made a cocktail called “Into the Blue.” A blend of Blue Curacao, Peach Schnapps, Red Bull and Grey Goose, Tim redubbed it “The Crippler.” It was served in special glasses made from actual Grey Goose bottles.
Brendan finished out the evening with a Cap’n Crunch crusted Ahi Tuna dish served with basil risotto and grilled vegetables. The tuna was also drizzled with a spicy orange sauce made with orange preserves, chili sauce and fresh squeezed OJ. Kate paired it with a crisp white vino from the Alsace region of France.
In the end, Sabrina pulled out the main course win. I’m still thinking about those heavenly mashed potato spring rolls and ribs.
A big thank you to Daylen for helping us decide the winners.