Recap: Slow Food Edmonton’s Hijacked

Slow Food Edmonton seems to be picking up steam, with two of their spring events falling so on trend that people might forget all together that the food they’re consuming is good, clean and fair. The first of those events appealed to me because I was curious to see how they would involve a food truck so early on in the season.

Hijacked, which took place on March 8, 2014, was a collaboration between Slow Food Edmonton, Shovel & Fork, Drift, and Alley Kat Beer. The proceeds from the fundraiser were intended to help support SFE members attend the National Slow Food Conference in Halifax later this year.

Hijacked

Parked at Alley Kat

It was a casual event, the $30 non-member ticket price mainly going towards a glass of beer and food. My sisters and I socialized and perused the auction items, but were eager to chow down.

I have to say, SFE hit the weather jackpot, given the Saturday prior was close to –30. It was a fairly balmy evening, the perfect “winter” conditions for a food truck. Although it took some time for the grub to get going, it was ultimately worth the wait.

Each of us received a box of food fit for two people. Our favourite was the shroom melt, made with local mushrooms and onions and The Cheesiry’s pecorino. The sides – one, a northern bean salad with Doef’s peppers and cucumbers, and two, a Sundog Organics slaw with Shovel & Fork apple cider – were great accompaniments that stood up to the mains. I particularly loved the final touch of microgreens. For dessert, we were given a snail-shaped rice crispy treat – too cute.

Hijacked

Dinner at Hijacked

Our only complaint about the event was the lack of seating, something the organizers were very cognizant of, given one of the auction items was actually table seating for four. More cocktail tables would have made things easier to eat, most notably, the meatball sub. We watched as people spread out on the floor inside, or struggled to keep food off their shirts as they ate standing up. We ended up staying outside to take advantage of one of Drift’s cocktail tables, even as the mercury dropped after dark.

Hijacked

Winter patio!

The event was a success, with both seatings selling out. Their next event, a pizza pop-up at RGE RD, is already at capacity, but with this renewed momentum, I’d stay tuned to Slow Food Edmonton to learn when their next happening is taking place so you’re not disappointed!

Slow Food Edmonton’s 5th Annual Wild Boar & Beer BBQ

Last year, my involvement in planning Slow Food Edmonton’s 4th annual Wild Boar & Beer BBQ was nominal – I helped with some of the promotion, such as putting together their first ever Scavenger Hunt, but other than that, I was just happy to be able to attend one of my first events as an official Slow Food member. This year, Maria and I leapt with both feet and decided to plan the event ourselves.

We started back in February, if you can believe it, but were able to secure the date early on with Alley Kat Brewery. In the months that followed, we met with several Slow Food members who had planned past BBQs, and helped us work through other details (thanks again to Vince Roy, Colleen Ingoldsby, Jennifer Cockrall-King and Gail Hall!). We eventually got Leva Cafe and Cafe Haven on board to make the side salads, two restaurants who already source many of their ingredients from local producers, and booked Earl Hagman from Hog Wild Specialties, who would be the man behind the boar. As the event drew nearer, we secured Martin Kerr as the afternoon’s entertainment, applied for the necessary permits, purchased insurance, printed tickets, rounded up door prizes, arranged to borrow tents, organized another scavenger hunt and ordered everything from porta potties to non-alcoholic drinks to dessert to cutlery – it really was an education for me, as it was the first time I had a hand in putting together such a large-scale event where we would be feeding nearly 200 people. It really wouldn’t have come together without Maria though – with my day job, it would have been challenging to make connections during business hours, so Maria took on the brunt of the necessary calls.

We knew the date would be a problem for some – August 8, 2010 fell on this year’s Folk Fest weekend. Many people did express that the date did create a conflict, but in the end, it was as close to a sell out as we could have hoped for. All we had left to do was keep our fingers crossed for good weather.

On Sunday morning, the forecast was looking good. Maria and Jeff had generously taken the 4:30 a.m. shift, having met Earl at the Brewery at dawn to help move the barbeque. They were back at Alley Kat at 9 a.m. to meet up with Mack and I, alongside Neil and a few other brewery staff for set-up.

Wild Boar & Beer BBQ 2010

Checking on the boar (all 140lbs of it, and on the ‘cue since 4:45 that morning)

Many hands made light work, and we were finished in no-time. Of course, there were still plenty of things of things to do, and over the next few hours, we made our way through the task list.

Wild Boar & Beer BBQ 2010

All ready to go!

Yvan from Tree Stone Bakery had been kind enough to donate all of the bread for the barbeque, including a huge loaf that we nicknamed the “surfboard”, for how large it was.

Mack has fun slicing bread (we included Mighty Trio Organics canola oil for dipping)

Many started arriving even before 1 p.m., but the Alley Kat volunteers were ready to handle the thirsty crowd. Their beer is a fine choice on any day, but even more so on a hot summer afternoon.

Wild Boar & Beer BBQ 2010

There was also iced Toddy coffee from Transcend and lemonade from Homestyle Beverages for those not interested in beer

Martin Kerr was tasked with establishing the mood for the event, and I think he did a great job – there’s just something about an acoustic guitar that seemed to fit so well with the casual vibe that afternoon.

Wild Boar & Beer BBQ 2010

Martin entertains the crowd

Thea had brought Slow Food swag in case anyone was interested, and was also great in lending us a hand that day when we needed it.

Wild Boar & Beer BBQ 2010

The Slow Food table

We could sense the crowd was getting hungry, and planned to start serving food once it looked like most of the seats were filled.

Wild Boar & Beer BBQ 2010

The crowd

Wild Boar & Beer BBQ 2010

Jeff and Chad are ready to carve

Leva Cafe and Cafe Haven had delivered their salads earlier that afternoon, and they looked great!

Wild Boar & Beer BBQ 2010

Cafe Haven’s tri-colour carrot salad, featuring carrots from Riverbend Gardens and Greens, Eggs and Ham, and cilantro from their staff’s veggie patch (the sesame seeds were a nice touch)

Wild Boar & Beer BBQ 2010

Leva Cafe’s coleslaw featuring Caraflex cabbage from Riverbend Gardens (it was super-fragrant, from the sesame oil)

Wild Boar & Beer BBQ 2010

Leva Cafe’s mixed greens salad with Elderflower dressing featuring mixed heritage greens from Greens, Eggs and Ham, beets from Sundog Organics, and BC Blueberries from Steve and Dan’s (I really loved the blueberries)

Though we had originally planned for the food to be served buffet-style, we made a game-time decision to serve the food ourselves instead. It ended up being a great choice, if not only because it meant we were able to interact with every person who attended the event.

Wild Boar & Beer BBQ 2010

On the line

It was great to see some familiar faces – Liane from the Journal (who put together a very nice write-up of the event on her blog), fellow food bloggers Kevin and Lea, Jim and Elaine (who we met last year), and MP Linda Duncan.

Wild Boar & Beer BBQ 2010

Even my parents came out, and brought their friend Poh!

The line didn’t seem to diminish – every time we thought we were through, we looked up and saw that more people had joined the line. Really though, I probably just had no idea how many servings made up nearly 200.

Wild Boar & Beer BBQ 2010

The line

Wild Boar & Beer BBQ 2010

The carvers hard at work

After we were done serving (yes, there were seconds available for most who wanted them), Maria and I doled out the door prizes.

Wild Boar & Beer BBQ 2010

Maria announces the winner of a jar of Lola Canola honey

Finally, we were able to relax – for a while anyway. The four of us settled down in the shade with our plates of food.

Wild Boar & Beer BBQ 2010

Maria and I

Wild Boar & Beer BBQ 2010

Mack and Jeff

All that was left was takedown – though most of the crowd left just after 4, we had several tables linger until nearly 5. By 6 that night, we were finally done.

At the end of the day, Maria and I were really happy with the event – no one went hungry, and we avoided any major catastrophes! Of course, we both acknowledge that this event would not have happened without our volunteers, including Thea, Chad, Tara, Jeff, and the crew from Alley Kat. We also have to thank many local businesses who helped us out in other ways:

  • Mary Bailey of The Tomato for a full-page ad
  • Bob Robertson for designing the Beer & Boar ad
  • Yvan Chartrand of Tree Stone Bakery for donating bread
  • Riverbend Gardens for donating cabbage
  • Blue Plate Diner for donating potato-based plates
  • Credo Coffee for donating corn-based cups
  • Mary Ellen and Andreas Grueneberg and Patty Milligan for donating door prizes and lending us tents
  • Ed Fong of DeVine’s for donating door prizes
  • Julianna Mimande for donating a copy of We Eat Together
  • Kerstin’s Chocolates for donating a door prize
  • And last but not least – Neil and Lavonne of Alley Kat for hosting us and donating all of the beer.

Thanks to everyone who came out and helped to make the event a success!

You can check out Mack’s photo set here.

Slow Food Edmonton’s 4th Annual Wild Boar and Beer BBQ

Sunshine (and a steady breeze) flooded the skies for Slow Food Edmonton’s 4th Annual Wild Boar and Beer BBQ today, held at Alley Kat Brewery.

Wild Boar and Beer BBQ

I had helped with some of the early promotion, including putting together a scavenger hunt, but this was my first time attending the event. I found it to be well-organized, complete with volunteers directing cars to parking spaces.

All of Alley Kat’s beers were on tap, and attendees were not limited in the number of glasses they could drink. I stuck with my tried and true favourite of Aprikat (which, upon further inspection of the label, reads “beer cooler”), while Mack cooled off with Charlie Flint’s Original Lager.

Beer!

In addition to beer, our $35 ticket also granted us one heaping plate of food, all sourced locally. Chef Sebastian Lysz put together a menu that included: wild boar from Hog Wild Specialties with accompanying mustard from Walden Foods, tomato, mixed greens, mushroom and coleslaw salads from Greens Eggs and Ham, Lola Canola Honey and Morinville Greenhouses, bread from Tree Stone Bakery, Pinocchio ice cream and Saskatoon berry tarts.

 

Buffet-style line-up

 

Boar carving station

 

Mack helps himself

The boar didn’t taste gamey at all, and was moist and nicely marbled all the way through. Up against pork, however, I’m not sure I would have been able to taste the difference. Mack preferred the crunchy, gristly bits of the end-pieces.

 

Our plates

For our meal, we were privy to the company of Lea and her husband Rob, and Jim and his wife Elaine. Thanks for the conversation about food and travels!

Dawn Desmarais and her band provided entertainment all afternoon, a mix of covers and original songs, seemingly all dedicated to her ex-boyfriends. Perhaps it was a joke that we missed.

 

Dawn Desmarais

I also had the chance to meet Maria, the winner of the boar and beer scavenger hunt.

 

With Maria, who isn’t the slightest bit camera shy!

After our meal, we decided to take advantage of the tours being offered of Alley Kat’s microbrewery. As an employee of Labatt recently relayed that they can do what Alley Kat does in a year in three days, it helped put the craft brewing business in perspective. All of the stages of their beer production are far from automated, and it was interesting to be able to see all of the work that goes into a bottle of Alley Kat Beer.

 On the tour

 

Bottling and packing area

Thanks to Tara of Slow Food Edmonton for spearheading the work, Neil and the rest of the staff at Alley Kat for hosting, and to the volunteers and producers who made Wild Boar and Beer possible. It was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon!