Highlights from the 2015 Grand Taste Tour

Last weekend I accompanied Sharon on the 2015 Grand Taste Tour, “an interactive educational experience” hosted by Taste Alberta and the 124 Grand Market. As Sharon is a Gastropost adviser, we were fortunate to attend as guests of Taste Alberta. I know she’ll be posting a more complete write-up soon, but for now I wanted to share some highlights.

2015 Grand Taste Tour
The Taste Alberta crew, photo by Linda

There were two variants to the tour: the bee tour which stopped at Wolf Willow Honey and the dairy tour which visited Breveliet Dairy. Both tours also got to see Tofield Meat Packers and Irvings Farm Fresh. As we had toured Bles Wold Dairy in the past, we decided to go with the bee tour.

It was neat to see the bees and hives and to taste the different variants of honey but overall I was a bit underwhelmed. I would have appreciated some more information and guidance during the tasting, for one thing. That said, Doug Chalmers was an encyclopedia of information and it was great learning from him how the bees do their thing! You can buy Wolf Willow Honey at Duchess Provisions.

Wolf Willow Honey
Sharon tasting the honey

Wolf Willow Honey
Bees!

Wolf Willow Honey
Doug Chalmers teaching us about bees

Our next stop was Tofield Packers. It’s a relatively small facility but is the one that Irvings Farm Fresh uses. I definitely enjoyed the opportunity to see the processing part of the process. We walked through and saw where the animals are led in, one-by-one, to the kill floor. Next was the aging rooms where the carcasses were hanging, followed by the freezers and the smoker.

Tofield Meat Packers
Tofield Packers

Tofield Meat Packers
Cattle and pigs

Tofield Meat Packers
It was about -25 C in this room!

Sharon and I have been buying Irvings Farm Fresh products for years now and have always wanted to visit the farm. When the Grand Taste Tour came up it seemed like the perfect opportunity to finally do so! The berkshire pigs looked just as happy as we imagined they would, with lots of space and mud to enjoy.

Irvings Farm Fresh
Berkshire pigs

Irvings Farm Fresh
Happy pigs in the mud

Irvings Farm Fresh
Alan and Sharon

In between touring the farm and lunch we had a butchery demo from Elyse Chatterton. She’s incredibly engaging and did a masterful job of showing us a variety of pork cuts in just a few minutes, even explaining the difference in how things are done in England and here in Canada.

Irvings Farm Fresh
Elyse showing us how it’s done

Irvings Farm Fresh
She had a very captive audience

The “lunch” at the end of the day was unreal. Prepared by Daniel Costa and his Corso 32/Bar Bricco team, it was more like a full dinner complete with eight dishes! A meal like that would have easily cost as much as the ticket to attend the entire tour, so it absolutely made the Grand Taste Tour feel like a good deal.

2015 Grand Taste Tour
The most amazing spring pea & mint with crostini

2015 Grand Taste Tour
We couldn’t get enough of the delicious risotto

2015 Grand Taste Tour
Kirsta with the chefs

It was a great day. Awesome job Kirsta and the rest of the 124 Grand Market team!

2015 Grand Taste Tour
The group that worked so hard to make the day happen

You can check out more photos from the tour here and keep an eye on Sharon’s blog for her write-up!