Recipe: Bacon Fennel Jam
Earlier this month I attended the 7th annual Pig & Pinot -  a fundraiser for Calgary Meals on Wheels held at Hotel Arts. The event featured a number of local chefs and restaurants competing for the coveted Divine Swine trophy sponsored by Alberta Pork. The challenge to chefs: perfectly pair a pinot with a unique and creative dish utilizing free-range pork from Spragg's Meat Shop. Since I adore a good surf & turf dish, I made a few repeat visits to the Tango Bistro station where fresh oysters were served on the half shell with bacon fennel jam. Tango Bistro's head chef Trevor Hopper graciously agreed to share his recipe for bacon fennel jam. This recipe makes three cups which can be stored in the fridge for up to a month (although I doubt you could make it last that long). For those who don't love oysters, bacon jam is great condiment to keep on hand and is great on burgers, with cheese, fresh bread or just on toast. Bacon Fennel Jam Recipe courtesy of Chef Trevor Hopper, Tango Bistro

What you’ll need…

1 lb bacon cut into lardons or small diced 1 small yellow onion julienne against the grain 1 large bulb fennel cored and julienned ½ oz minced garlic 1 tsp fennel seeds 1 tsp chili flakes 1 lb peeled apples (fresh or frozen) rough chopped 3 sprigs thyme tied in a bundle 2/3 cup chicken stock 3 tbsp maple syrup 1 tsp grainy mustard 3 tbsp sherry vinegar ( or cider vinegar) 1/3 cup Brown sugar Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. In large heavy bottom pot, brown bacon and remove excess fat. Add onions and fennel and saute until starting to brown, add garlic, fennel seeds and chili flakes cook for three minutes. 2. Add remaining ingredients, turn to low heat and let reduce until all items are tender and broken down approximately two hours. 3. Transfer to jars and keep in fridge up to 4 weeks. To assemble the oysters with bacon jam, take your favourite oyster and shuck it on the half shell, and detaching the oyster from the shell.  Keep the oysters on a bed of ice or salt so they do not tip over, using about 1 tsp of jam per oyster and garnished with chopped chives. 
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Recap: Swine & Dine at Tzin Wine & Tapas
On Tuesday May 30, Tzin Wine & Tapas played host to Edmonton's latest Swine & Dine. The intimate wine bar on 104th set the table for 36 patrons spread across two seatings; however, the wait list surely would have filled at least another two seatings. For the event, Chef Corey McGuire created an eight-course dinner featuring Irvings Farm Fresh Alberta Pork from amuse-bouche to dessert. The evening kicked off with a Smoked bourbon Old Fashioned featuring smoked bourbon, bacon simple syrup, crabapple bitters and topped with a sinfully delicious candied piece of Irvings Farms bacon. The Irvings were on hand to talk to diners at both seatings, explaining that their partnership with Chef McGuire has spanned over eight years, and that his braised bacon dish has certainly led to customers seeking them out at the local farmer's markets. The first course of the evening was a Pork Liver Mousse accompanied by a hemp seed cracker and pickled shallots. If you've ever been to Tzin you have seen just how tiny the open kitchen is. On several occasions I have compared it to the size of a food truck - I am always blown away by how much Chef McGuire does with such an intimate space to work with. Our second course featured a Pork Jowl Croqueta. Sadly, this gluten-free girl couldn't experience this dish, but I heard from the table the bite was just enough to leave them wanting more (and wishing there were a few more on the plate). Chef McGuire sourced ingredients from Rob with Effing Seafoods to create two back-to-back surf & turf dishes on his Swine & Dine menu.

A post shared by Effing Rob Tryon (@effingrob) on

For our third course, Chef McGuire and his team served a Roast Pork Belly. The Irvings Farm pork belly was served alongside a pork and shrimp bisque and a humpback shrimp salsa; yet another dish that left several at our table wanting more. Throughout the evening, Tzin's co-owner Glenn Quinn was on hand to help serve up the eight course Swine & Dine - offering suggestions to pair the menu with the restaurant's unique wine menu. Up next, Swine & Diners were treated to a Braised Pork Shoulder Ragout served with steamed clams, peppers & onions, and a cornbread waffle. It was apparent that it was becoming more and more difficult to pick a favourite dish, as Chef McGuire plated the dishes in a way I felt they were getting better and better with each course.  
The photo credit on the next picture goes to Little Miss Andrea. While I know she enjoyed the Grilled Pork Loin served with tater tots, butter cheese and pork gravy, I know she was not-so-secretly hoping Chef McGuire's braised bacon would show up on the menu.
Our seventh course of the evening, and last savoury dish of the night, was a beautifully presented paella with smoked pork hock, herbed pork sausage and an apple aioli.  Although not a classic paella one might find in Spain, the two Spaniards at my table enjoyed Chef McGuire's dish, and we all did our best to score a crunchy bit, also known as the socarrat. For dessert, Chef McGuire kept things simple with a Bourbon Butter Cake drenched in caramel and topped with bacon - the sweet and savoury dish completing our eight course Swine & Dine menu. I would like to thank owners Kelsey Danyluk and Glen Quinn as well as Chef McGuire and the rest of the culinary team for hosting our latest Swine & Dine. In the end - I don't think I could pick a favourite dish; however, I would gladly do it over if Chef McGuire offered the same menu again. For those who couldn't make it or score a seat, Chef McGuire always has a selection of dishes featuring Alberta Pork on the menu; just follow his instagram account for a selection of drool-worthy photos. From his legendary Irvings Farm braised bacon to his selection of house-made sausages, pork lovers can always enjoy a bite at Tzin Wine & Tapas. Tzin Wine & Tapas 10115 104 St NW, Edmonton (780) 428-8946
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4th Annual Porkapalooza BBQ Festival Heats up June 10 -11, 2017
Porkapalooza has found a new home; this year, Edmonton's meatiest festival will take over Northlands June 10 - 11, 2017! [caption id="attachment_2882" align="alignright" width="256"] Danielle Dimovski of Diva Q[/caption] This event is a great opportunity to learn about BBQ culture. As an official Kansas City Barbecue Society sanctioned events, teams competing in the festival's BBQ competition have a chance to win $16,000 in prizes as well as an entry to compete in Kansas City. Food Demonstrations Back for her 4th year at Porkapalooza, Diva Q will be on hand to share tips and tricks to cooking Alberta pork on the grill over at the SERVUS Credit Union Food Stage at 3 pm on Saturday and Sunday. If you love food competitions, you won't want to miss chef Paul Shufelt of Workshop Eatery and chef Andrew Cowan of Northern Chicken going head to head in a BBQ black box challenge. Check out this line up of great local chefs and butchers, and meat specialists on the food stage: I'll also be joining the food stage with The Spaniard to show how he makes paella on the grill. Each session will not only be tasty and informative, there is also a chance to win prizes from Taste Alberta, chefs products, restaurant gift cards, and even a paella pan courtesy of The Italian Centre. Meat, Meat, and more Meat Visitors will have a chance to taste some BBQ at the Porkapalooza Experience tent, as well as indulge at the incredible line up of food trucks and vendors. While Porkapalooza is a food festival that explores the art and culture of BBQ, it is also supports some great charities in Edmonton. This year, Porkapalooza is working with three hard-working local charities: Ronald McDonald House Charities Northern Alberta, Youth Empowerment & Support Services (YESS), and AdaptAbilities. Porkapalooza encompasses all the components of a festival: local food trucks, beer gardens, food demonstration stage, a Kids Zone playground and plenty of entertainment. Grab some friends, collect the family, and be sure to bring your appetite. For more information visit porkapalooza.ca and follow @PorkapaloozaYEG on twitter for event updates. 
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