Recap: RGC Bench Creek Brewery Swine & Dine

Last Thursday night, chef Steve Buzak at the Royal Glenora Club in Edmonton’s river valley teamed up with Bench Creek Brewing to deliver our first Swine & Dine of 2018. Two years ago, chef Buzak was the first to deliver a beer-paired Swine & Dine to rave reviews, and last week’s event was another Passion for Pork success.

Irvings Farm back wrapped prunes with blue cheese.

I arrived early so I could sneak a peek in the kitchen. Chef Buzak was happy to show off the sous vide Bear & The Flower pork belly, Memphis Style ribs, and devil on horseback appetizer with a prune and blue cheese twist.

Bear & the Flower Farm ribs.
Bear & the Flower Farm Alberta pork belly

Guests were welcomed to the tray passed appetizers of Memphis Style Ribs (a recipe that chef Buzak shared during a previous June is Pork month), and bacon-wrapped prunes were paired with Bench Cree Brewery’s Black Spruce Porter (5.8 %).

After all guests were seated we were greeted by chef Buzak and the Royal Glenora Club (RGC) team, who shared his excitement at hosting another beer-paired Swine & Dine.

After explaining that beer is easier to pair with food than wine – he introduced his first course for the evening – a fennel roasted pork belly served with a sweet potato puree, smoked corn, apricot and orange gastrique.

Our first course was served with  Naked Woodsman Pale Ale (5.2%), which was introduced by our Bench Creek Brewery guru Cassandra. The beer is known for notes of fresh bread and light caramel malt flavours mixed with bright floral, grapefruit and orange hop aromatics. There’s a sweetness to it – apricot and peach hop flavours combine with subdued citrus. It finishes with a star of anise spiciness that makes you think this somewhat fruit-forward brew.

We joked with chef Buzak that my boyfriend’s only complaint with the first course was that it was too small – he could have eaten six more! Chef Buzak warned us there were many courses to come – and our second surf & turf course was sure to fill us up. I loved the seafood chowder chef Buzak served with double smoked Irvings Farm bacon croutons. The potato veloute soup was velvety smooth and served with blackened prawn & scallops and topped with a citrus foam.

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Our soup was served with Bench Creek’s White Raven IPA (6.5%), a robust beer with huge aromatics of orange, grapefruit, passion fruit and mango with a touch of pine. The signature flavours of Munich and crystal malts contribute a complex toffee-caramel backbone that nicely balances the bitterness from the hops.

As our main course was being plated, I snuck back into the kitchen for a preview of our main course.

Once our plates were ready to be served, chef Buzak came back to the dining room to introduce our next dish – the RGC signature spice-rubbed Bear & the Flower Farm pork loin. The tender Alberta pork was served with a cider jus and accompanied by Brussels sprouts and a Fuge Meats chorizo and northern bean cassoulet.

Our main was paired with Bench Creek’s Northern Grace Red Rye India Pale Ale (6.2%), which boasts flavours of rich toffee, dark caramel, dried plum, and spicy, earthy malt notes mixed with juicy orange, passionfruit, geranium, and stone fruit flavours.

For dessert, chef Buzak turned my memories of building fireside s’mores into a flavourful creme brûlée that had my spoon searching for just one more bite.

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Chef Buzak’s s’mores creme brulee & maple candied Irvings Farm bacon was accented with cardamom marshmallows, Peruvian cacao nibs, and an espresso melt away chocolate that chef made with coconut oil.

I’ve confessed it many times while recapping swine & dine dinners – I’m not a fan of chocolate, but I was a huge fan of this dessert. There were so many flavours and textures at play in this playful dessert – I would happily order this dessert again!

Our final Bench Creek pairing of the night was from the brewery’s Villainous Series – with the can showcasing an ode to Drexl Spivey from the movie True Romance. The Drexl Blackstrap Imperial Stout (11%) is barrel-aged, pitch black, dark and I’m told it paired wonderfully with Chef Buzak’s campfire creation.

I’d like to thank the chef Steve Buzak, Derek, and the entire team at the RGC for hosting another incredible Swine & Dine dinner. It was great to learn more about Bench Creek Brewing (I know a few people at my table were more than happy to claim this gluten-free girl’s beers throughout the dinner).

Chef Buzak is a great chef that is consistently hosting unique food events at the RGC that are open to non members. Check out their website or follow their social media feeds to learn more about upcoming events, including their monthly brunch series.

I’m hoping to work with chef Buzak to come up with some way to celebrate June is Pork month at the RGC, so stay tuned! That river valley patio sounds like the perfect place to enjoy some pig & pinot.

Recipe: Charcut’s Al Pastor Tacos

For the past three years, Charcut chefs Connie Desousa & John Jackson have been presenting at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge‘s Christmas in November.

This year, the duo shared latin-inspired dishes from their Charbar menu, including an innovative way to cook al pastor tacos. The dish, which originates from central Mexico, was inspired by shawarma spit-grilled meat brought by the Lebanese immigrants to Mexico. Marinated pork is layered on a vertical spit and topped with a pineapple – as the meat rotates and cooks with the fat and juices slowly dripping down, slices of cooked meat are sliced off for taco time.

While I’ve eaten many an Al Pastor pork taco at restaurants or food trucks, I’ve never tried to make al pastor tacos at home because I don’t have a rotisserie. But that will all change thanks to chef Connie & John’s al pastor taco hack that uses a loaf pan.

My Mexico Al Pastor Tacos
Recipe courtesy of Charcut chefs Connie Desousa & John Jackson

1/4 pineapple, peeled
1/4 onion, white or yellow, sliced
1 Tbsp guajillo chile powder
1/2 garlic clove
1 Tbsp line juice
1 Tbsp pineapple juice
2 tsp coarse kosher salt
pinch dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
pinch ground cumin
1/2 small chipotle chiles
1/4 – 1/2 tsp adobo from canned chipotle chiles
350 ground boneless Alberta Pork loin
230 g ground chorizo sausage, raw
1 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
25 corn tortillas, small – 3-4 ”
1/4 lbs butter diced in bowl
to taste – Vellentina or Frank’s hot sauce
12 limes, Mexican cut wedges

Taco Meat Preparation
Slice pork loin into thin medallions about 1 cm thick. Marinade pork medallions in pineapple and lime juice, salt, oregano, cumin garlic cloves, and chilli powder.

On a rotisserie spit or in a loaf pan, layer the pork and sausage meat pressing to flatten out as you layer. Once completed, top the with peeled pineapple. Cook over medium heat on rotisserie or in an oven at 350F until internal temperature is 155F. Remove and rest on sheet pan for 15 minutes.

To Assemble Taco
Add hot sauce and butter to small pot and heat until butter melts. Whisk until emulsified. Heat corn tortillas in pan with small amount of butter and when hot remove and set on plate covered with damp towel so it does not dry out.

Assemble garnish in small bowls, sliced onion, lime wedges, pickled cilantro, and hot sauce. Right before serving slice the meat thinly kebab style again the grain. Serve while still hot along with the hot sauce, garnishes and tortillas.


Recipe: Pork Rolls with Almond Butter Sauce

This delicious and healthy pho – inspired pork roll recipe is excellent for those days when time is limited. It’s a perfect option for lunch and one the whole family will love!

Pork provides good lean protein with ample amounts of nutrients including B vitamins, zinc, iron and more. The almond butter sauce offers additional protein and fats with nutrients that promote superior health benefits while the veggies give a colourful, nutritious crunch.

This recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free, peanut-free and is very low in sugar so it meets the dietary demands for a variety of people with health concerns. The almond butter sauce literally mocks a peanut flavour and avoids the sugar content in hoisin sauce.

Pork Rolls

1 small pkg pork tenderloin (approx. 1 pound)
1 tsp Alberta Pork Spice

1 head of lettuce or other greens, chopped
3 cups carrots, shredded
2 green onions, sliced
a few handfuls of pea shoots
4 cups mung bean sprouts
1 bunch fresh basil, parsley or cilantro (optional)

1 cup raw almond butter
1/2 cup water
2-3 tbsp lime juice
4 tsp maple syrup
4 tsp tamari
2 cloves crushed garlic
1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger
dash of cayenne pepper
dash of sea salt


Place all ingredients for the almond butter sauce in a high speed blender and process until smooth. Adjust to your taste and add a little more water if mixture is too thick, set aside.

Trim outer fat from pork tenderloin. Sprinkle a light layer of Alberta Pork Spice evenly onto the meat. Cook tenderloin over med heat in a fry pan or on the BBQ until done. Set aside.

Moisten rice paper in a large deep bowl of hot water for about thirty seconds until slightly softened. Remove and spread moistened paper onto clean cutting board.

Assemble chopped greens along the middle of the rice paper, drizzle some of the almond butter sauce over the greens.

Slice the pork tenderloin into thin slices. Position a few small slices on top the bed of greens on the rice paper. Continue to layer small amounts of the rest of the veggies.

Tightly roll the mixture while folding the ends in. The completed rolls should stick together as shown in photo.

Serve with additional sauce. Enjoy!

Makes 12 servings.

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Recipe courtesy:  Carrie Mullaly Wildheart Fitness & Nutrition

Recipe: Chef Cowan’s Peameal Bacon Sandwiches

Chef Cowan's Peameal Bacon SandwichesI spent most of my time at this year’s Porkapalooza BBQ Festival over at the food stage where I learned a number of tricks and tips from a chefs and home cooks teaching everything from how to perfect to a pork burger to Diva Q sharing a recipe for Asian Inspired Sesame Pork Loin Skewers.

When Chef Andrew Cowan hit the stage, he shared his love of peameal bacon sandwiches – an iconic sandwich from his hometown of Toronto. While the brine time is long for curing the pork loin, this is a simple  recipe that is perfect to make ahead of your next BBQ. Who doesn’t love a bacon sandwich?Chef Andrew Cowan at Porkapalooza

Peameal Bacon Sandwiches

2kg whole piece of locally sourced pork loin
1 1/2 cup coarse cornmeal
1 tbsp of salt

For the brine:
4L water
1 cup kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 tsp salt cure #1


1. Combine all ingredients for the brine in a pot and bring to a boil. Allow to cool so it doesn’t cook the pork loin when it’s submerged. Add pork loin to the brine and refrigerate for 4-5 days

2. After 5 days take pork out of the brine, allow to dry in fridge uncovered for 2 hours.

3. Combine cornmeal with salt. After pork is dry roll in cornmeal mixture until pork is very well coated all around, place back into the fridge overnight, uncovered, to allow a good crust to form

4. Cut thick slices of bacon, grill or pan fry. Serve on soft kaiser bun with really good mustard, some lettuce and tomato.