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.

Announcing the 2nd Annual Wild Boar and Beer BBQ Scavenger Hunt Winner!

Congratulations to Nicole Nytchay, who earned 211 out of a possible 260 points in Slow Food Edmonton’s second annual Wild Boar and Beer BBQ Scavenger Hunt! Nicole and a guest will be treated to wild boar and a host of other local, seasonal dishes at the Wild Boar and Beer BBQ on August 8 at the Alley Kat Brewery (tickets for the BBQ are still available, and can be purchased at Alley Kat , or online here).

Nicole said she had a lot of fun completing the scavenger hunt, and it shows in her photos! I am amazed she was able to capture 24 out of the 25 items on the list – the only one she missed out on was the iced drinking chocolate at Kerstin’s Chocolates because the shop was closed last week! Here are some of her photos:

We Eat Together

In front of a community garden (Our Urban Eden, at 99 Avenue and Bellamy Road)

With Patty Milligan/aka Lola Canola

With Patty Milligan/aka Lola Canola wearing a beekeeper’s suit (thanks to Patty for bringing it along to the market!)

Community Garden

With a copy of We Eat Together and a dish of leek and potato soup (Nicole snagged the last copy at Earth’s General Store)

Alley Kat Beer

Enjoying Alley Kat’s Charlie Flint Lager at Blue Plate Diner

With Nate at Elm Cafe

With Nate Box at Elm Cafe

Duchess Bake Shop

Enjoying a strawberry macaron from Duchess Bake Shop

Hog Wild Specialties

With smokies from Hog Wild Specialties (available at Buffalo Valley Meats)

Lucky 97

Touching the ball in the lion’s mouth (for good luck) at Lucky 97

Juggling in front of Wild Tangerine

Juggling three tangerines in front of Wild Tangerine (probably my favourite photo!)

Congrats again, Nicole – see you at the BBQ!

Slow Food Edmonton’s 2nd Annual Wild Boar & Beer Scavenger Hunt!

Slow Food Edmonton’s 5th annual Wild Boar and Beer BBQ is a celebration of local food and drink! It is a chance to sample Mayerthorpe’s Hog Wild products, as well as several local and regional side dishes. In addition, there will be beer tastings and tours of Edmonton’s award-winning microbrewery, Alley Kat.

When: Sunday, August 8, 2010 at 1-4pm
Where: Alley Kat Brewery, 9929 60 Avenue
Cost: $40 for Slow Food Edmonton members, $50 for non-members

For your chance to win two tickets, on behalf of Slow Food Edmonton, I’ve put together our 2nd annual scavenger hunt of local producers, restaurants, and independent businesses. Your objective is to collect as many points as possible! From now until July 25, take photos of yourself posing with as many of the items below as you can. Some items on the list will earn you more points than others. Remember to ask permission before taking photos with individuals!

clip_image001Upload your photos to a photo sharing site such as Flickr or Picasa, and send the link to by 11pm on July 24, 2010. In the event of a tie, the name of a winner will be randomly selected. The winner will be announced on July 26, 2010.

Have fun with this – the scavenger hunt is meant to encourage exploration of some of the best Edmonton has to offer. Perhaps you will find a new favourite in the mix!

I would like to acknowledge the Amateur Gourmet, and their Great New York Foodie Scavenger Hunt as the inspiration for this challenge.

Good luck!

Take a picture of yourself…

  1. In the Indian-inspired room at Cafe Haven (5pts.)
  2. Eating gelato at Leva Cafe (5pts.)
  3. With a wild mushroom of your choice from Mo Na (5pts.)
  4. With a copy of We Eat Together (5pts.)
    and a prepared recipe from the book (an extra 15pts.)
  5. With a container of Pinocchio ice cream (5pts.)
  6. With latte art in Transcend (5pts.)
  7. Holding a bottle of Alley Kat beer (5pts.)
    in a restaurant that offers Alley Kat on tap (an extra 10pts.)
    dressed as a cat (an extra 20pts.)
  8. With Nate Box at Elm Cafe (10pts.)
  9. Holding as many different issues of The Tomato/(Edmonton) City Palate as you can (3pts. each, up to a maximum of 30)
    next to Mary Bailey (an extra 10pts.)
    and a copy of The Food Lover’s Trail Guide (either volume 1 or 2; an extra 15pts.)
  10. With Patty Milligan/aka Lola Canola (5pts.)
    wearing a beekeeper’s suit (an extra 20pts.)
  11. With a baguette at Tree Stone Bakery (5pts.)
  12. Enjoying an Eva Sweet waffle (5pts.)
  13. In the Secret Garden at The Dish (5pts.)
  14. Juggling three tangerines in front of Wild Tangerine (10pts.)
  15. Eating a macaron at Duchess Bake Shop (5pts.)
  16. Cooling off with an iced drinking chocolate at Kerstin’s Chocolates (5pts.)
  17. Holding a package of Hog Wild Specialties (15pts.)
  18. Holding a Slow Food membership card (10pts.)
  19. Donating a non-perishable item to the Edmonton Food Bank (5pts.)
  20. With a half-dozen duck eggs from Greens, Eggs and Ham (5pts.)
  21. Holding an Original Fare VIP membership card (10pts.)
  22. Touching the ball in the lion’s mouth (for good luck) at Lucky 97 (5pts.)
  23. Perusing the deli options at Careit (5pts.)
  24. In front of a community garden (5pts.)
  25. Checking out the dessert case at Vi’s for Pies (5pts.)

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.


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!