Monday, December 22, 2008

Weekend gatherings: more chocolate, Tourtière and Sunday brunch

This past weekend was the busiest of the season for Zed and I - Friday night was the Warehouse Party, early Saturday afternoon was a chocolate tasting/customer appreciation event at The Cocoa Room, mid afternoon and evening the "Zed" family baking/cooking/confection day (and combined birthday and anniversary), and Sunday was a short open house which included Zed's sister and her family, and a decided lunch for that afternoon.

Having received the December newsletter from Kerstin's Chocolates, Zed and I quickly claimed our tickets to the customer appreciation event being held Saturday from 12pm - 6pm, that promised to pair chocolate with a selection of Kusmi teas. The event delivered, and we discovered a couple new chocolates of note: Michel Cluizel's 1er Cru de Plantation Mangaro Lait, a 50% dark milk from Madagascar, and the Cardamint Chocophilia bar (which was incredible with a cup of green tea). We also picked up the Amedei Chuao bar (from the Chuao island in Venezuela - it's amazing!), a Patric 70% Madagascar bar, some of the Spicy Drinking Chocolate mix and mocha meltaways to take to the gathering later that afternoon.

After our stopover for chocolate, we headed to Zed's brother's for the festivities. Having a smaller sized family with few to none traditions beyond getting together for Christmas dinner, I was interested in the yearly event featuring recipes that have been with the "Zed" family for years (last year I couldn't make it, but had a yummy selection of treats hand delivered afterwards). The spread included generous amounts of sucre-creme, rice crispy squares, shortbread, pecan squares and Nanaimo bars, as well as freshly made donuts lightly dusted with sugar and cinnamon.

After picking at these delicacies for a couple hours, it was on to the Tourtière (Québécois style meat pies). As Zed's vegetarian sister, her husband and two daughters, as well as I were in attendance, a vegetarian Tourtière made with veggie ground round was created, and it was delicious (luckily I was able to take home the left over veggie pie, which will make a nice main on Christmas day). To end the evening everyone enjoyed angel food cake, layered with lemon custard and topped with meringue (apparently a cross between angel food and lemon meringue pie - both of the birthday boys favourite desserts combined).

Sunday around noon, Zed's sister, her husband and daughters came over to inspect our newly completed renovations. Before they headed back to Calgary, they invited us to lunch, and Zed and I suggested Blue Plate as our destination. Having tried to take them to Blue Plate last year (they were closed for Christmas), we were eager to have them test some of Edmonton's veggie offerings.

We vaguely remembered that Blue Plate has brunch Sundays until 2pm, but it seemed close enough to the end of this time slot for the six of us to squeeze into the full restaurant. We ordered a good selection of brunch style dishes including the maple glazed cornbread, two Florentine Bennies, a stack of pancakes with lots of maple syrup, the tofu scramble and two kids' breakfasts, complete with homemade vegetarian sausages. As always Blue Plate came through - our meals were quickly served, and their goodness was quickly devoured and enjoyed.

All in all, the weekend was a great success, and the wonderful food and company was just what we needed to make it feel like the Holiday Season.

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