Saturday, February 5, 2011

Culina Muttart

This past Monday Charles and I were off to the Muttart Conservatory for a celebration of Culina's newest space and partnership with the City of Edmonton - an evening of 'local' food, food themed tours of the pyramids and a bit of an intro to Culina Muttart itself. Arriving right at 6:30pm (the scheduled start time) we were happy to encounter a warm, casual gathering; a welcome escape from the -30°C we'd just encountered.

Finding 'local' producers set up around the reception space at the centre of the pyramids, we stopped first at Yellowhead Brewery, thankfully nearest the coat rack, finally testing out their lager, which was smooth and easy to drink. Other producers included long time Culina partners Spring Creek Ranch, The Jam Lady and Pinocchio Ice Cream, along with newer partners such as Mighty Trio Organics, Tangle Ridge Ranch (lamb), O Sol' Meatos, The Cheesiry and en Santé Winery.

A few favourites of the night were Tangle Ridge's lamb (prepared by Culina) with the curry mustard from The Jam Lady, the Rustico Grande cheese from The Cheesiry, a salad (the same one they'll be serving at Culina Muttart) with quinoa and chickpeas from Mighty Trio Organics and a strawberry-tarragon sorbet from Pinocchio Ice Cream.

As mentioned above there were also tours of the pyramids. While we missed the 'Feature pyramid' (check out Sharon's post for a picture of the Valentine's theme), we did head into the arid, temperate and tropical pyramids, where guides pointed out agave, grape vines, pomegranate and persimmon trees, bananas and coffee in the various pyramids, just to name a few.

Before we left I was glad to clear up a few details I didn't quite understand about the City-Culina partnership. First of all, they'll be growing some of their greens (lettuces, herbs, etc.) in the Muttart's greenhouses, hopefully increasing space and thus product over time. Currently the restaurant is open for brunch and lunch only (during the hours the Conservatory is open), but hopefully they can branch into dinner soon. The space was pretty lovely at night, with the coloured lights of the Muttart entrance and the large windows creating a pleasant effect; I certainly wouldn't mind sitting down to a casual evening dinner.

Talking with one of the Culina Family partners, we could tell the team was excited about the new space and what's to come. And given the 'educational' nature of the Muttart itself, it seems like they'll be taking the opportunity to showcase regional products, engaging a broader audience of Edmontonians and visitors in the possibilities of local food in a casual, accessible fashion.

And of course we had to inquire about Folk Fest weekend. Although they're not sure if they will be open yet, here's hoping they can work something out for patrons and volunteers (and staff), inevitably hungry for a good breakfast on the Saturday and Sunday of the show. You know we'll be stopping on our way to site if those doors are open.

Thanks again to Kiri from the City, and of course to Culina, for inviting us to the event. We had a great time and are eager to see where things go from here. And of course we can't wait to head down for weekend brunch!

Culina Muttart
9626 96A Street
Hours: M-F (10-5), Sa-Su (11-5)
Currently taking reservations for six or more only; you can find their weekday lunch menu here by scrolling down a bit.

Check out posts on the event from other bloggers: Chris (great slide show here), Sharon, Twyla, and Liane from the Journal. And thanks to Charles for taking all the pictures above!

*Okay, just a little note on ETS. Getting to the Muttart after hours was a slight challenge, with no buses running East down 98th Ave. after 6pm. If you are heading to the Muttart on weekdays or Saturdays during open hours, check out the 85 which runs until 6pm (5pm on Saturdays) from downtown. On Sundays, the closest you'll get is via routes 7 or 8. If it's a nice day, Cloverdale has great biking/walking trails to/from Old Strathcona, Downtown and the River Valley in general. Good luck!


A Canadian Foodie said...

So sorry I missed seeing you! Great event I missed, too - ah, the tragedies of a great car that won't start on a cold night.
Lovely post!

Marianne said...

Sorry we missed you too, Valerie! Sometimes the bus is frustrating, but certainly dealing with a car on cold days would test my patience :)