Sunday, December 21, 2008

A festive Festival gathering

About 40 of us from the Folk Festival's Site Crew gathered at the Festival warehouse this past Friday for some Season's tidings, good food and refreshments.

Having had a good experience with Chianti Cafe and Restaurant this past summer, we opted to order vegetarian and meat lasagnas along with Italian and Caesar salads (~$9.50 per person). We decided on cake for dessert, and La Favorite just off 124th Street seemed to be the ticket. Having passed it a couple times during our jaunts to Urban Diner, Zed and I were eager to try their tasty looking creations. A chocolate sheet cake soaked with rum and topped with a chocolate ganache sounded scrumptious, and a cake big enough to feed 32 (~$65) was quickly ordered.

When Friday night came we split up into teams: Zed with one friend to pick up the mains (and some buffet warmers that he was able to borrow from an undisclosed location), and I with another friend to grab the cake.

Chianti is fairly accommodating when it comes to catering: all the cutlery (minus serving utensils) is included, as well as paper plates, parmasan cheese and butter for the rolls. The only complaint we could have had was that we could not pick-up the food any later than 5:30PM, and since our gathering did not start until 7PM, we were glad to have scored the warming dishes. In the end though, the food was served piping hot and Chianti gave us copius amounts of Caesar and Italian dressings on the side, keeping our salads from turning soggy.

The veggie lasagna combined a good amount of hearty noodles, with veggies, cheese and a slighty spicy tomato sauce layered in between. While I will always prefer the veggie lasagna Zed and I create at home, Chianti's version was completely satisfying in our industrial surroundings. Zed tried both the vegetarian and meat versions, and while he enjoyed the heartiness of the meat lasagna, his vote went to the veggie - the spicy kick made all the difference.

After everyone had their fill of the lasagna and salad, it was time for a sweet ending. The cake was a little on the dryer side, but the rum had thoroughly soaked in, giving a lovely depth to the sponge. The ganache style icing had the perfect amount of sweetness, and its moist stickiness balanced the dryness of the cake well. Although the cake tasted as good as it sounded when we first ordered it, the best part were the decorations - atop the cake were miniature deer, presents and pine trees surrounded by a generous amount of chocolate shavings, that really made it a holiday treat.

Followed by a hot cup of Kahlua and coffee, the evening turned out to be a warm reminder of Folk Festival summers, the perfect pick-me-up during the seemingly never ending cold of winter.

Chianti Cafe and Restaurant
10501 82 Avenue

La Favorite Pastry Shop
12431 102 Avenue

Head office and wedding cakes
11401 95 Street

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