December 11, 2008

Christmas Dîner Amical, SAIT

December 11, 2008

Juergen Bahr, Vice-Chargé de Presse

The evening began with your esteemed Vice Chargé de Presse driving up to the SAIT Highwood Dining Lounge, with the intention of dropping of his escort, then going over to the parkade and walking back. However, as I pulled up four handsome young gentlemen jumped from the shadows of the entrance. One ran over to the passenger side and opened the door and assisted my lovely wife from the car. Another came around to my side and did the same. At this point, I wondered: “Is this the valet service? – or are they going to rip off my car??? ” Fortunately, it was the former. We proceeded upstairs and removed our coats. Upon entering the Dining Room, another young gentleman asked us our names and then looked up our table number – a thoughtful touch – especially for us that require reading glasses..

From there, it was a difficult gauntlet as we passed the bar and all of the drinks available from the mixology students ready and waiting to please anyone’s taste buds with many interesting combinations. For us, it was to the champagne table where many bottles of Domaine Bruno Gobillard Brut awaited in a large bowl of ice. Four Hospitality Management students passed around hors d’oeuvres for our enjoyment. Temptations of pate, roast beef and smoked salmon made for difficult choices.

Also for our taste and visual entertainment, the serving area in front of the fireplace was set with a selection of sushi, ice carvings and tallow sculptures. Not only are the students creative in the kitchen, many are also talented sculpture artists.

The tables were set in elegant silver and grey tones. The menu completed the silver-grey theme and was set with a sprig covered in silver leaves.

As is our tradition at SAIT, the Culinary students were involved in a competition regarding the courses to be presented at the dinner. This year there was a slight change in the rules – the competitors could enter a maximum of two courses only. When the votes were compiled, Jordan Clay was he winner of both the Entrée and Fish courses. Then, Crystal Edwards won both the Main and Dessert courses. The runner-ups for the competition were Kristie Korth and Haley Otway.

When Cindy was finally able to persuade the assembled gathering to proceed to their tables, the Dîner Amical began in earnest. The first wine was poured and the service began with the first of the student competitor winner’s dish – Lobster Trilogy – magnificent!

We then proceeded to the soup course – Yukon Gold Potato with Double Smoked Bacon and Italian Parsley Cream. Unfortunately, it was so tempting, that your Vice Chargé de Presse forgot his duty – which is to take the picture first and then proceed – but the aroma was so tempting …

The third course was another student winner – Pan Seared Sable Fish – perfectly done – with Fennel and Watercress with a warm Citrus Vinaigrette

From here we proceeded to an Okanagan Apple and Cereriac Cannelloni Sorbet

The main course was double smoked bacon wrapped Elk tenderloin – the third student winner and accompanied with a gorgeous Brunello di Montalcino 2003. the full body of the Brunello was perfect with the meat.

The vegetable course consisted of two stars of beet and various root vegetables in a thick cream topped with a sprig of chives. This was followed by the cheese course and again, a slip of the photographer – and so we have the cheese plate slightly disasterized, but highly enjoyed prior to the picture being taken.

Our dessert – courtesy of the fourth and final student winner – a Port Poached Pear with Cambozola Honey Cream and Christmas Brulée This dessert was the subject of much discussion during the competition judging. It was simple, yet very complicated. The variety of tastes and the texture of the poached pear – very difficult to describe – you had to be there!

To finish the evening (and the diners) an unbelievably spectacular chocolate tower was presented to each table. Four pylons of chocolate web supported the basket of truffles. Chocolate butterflies were delicately arranged around the base and a very large butterfly graced the lid. Many of the delights were emblazoned with the Chaine logo. At the top was a gold chocolate Chaine medallion protected by the large butterfly.

The accolade was delivered by our Bailli Regional Honoraire – Beat to the serving and kitchen staff. As you can see from the pictures, there were many able persons which enabled the evening to proceed smoothly. Accepting the plates were Georg Windisch, Chef Instructor and Darwin Ens, Instructor.

It was a very wonderful way to end the 2008 season.

In closing, I should remind the reader, that this was the beginning of the great deep freeze in Calgary, so the beautiful dinner made the weather disappear – at least for a few hours.

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