After many events enjoyed over the last few years, Long and I decided to try to to take a more measured approach to some of the things we do. We both have expenses – she is doing a home renovation, I have debt to tackle – so we thought we would try to keep the price points of the things we do to a minimum. Plus winter is coming and the temptation to hibernate with a Netflix account, a bowl of popcorn and takeout menus is almost overwhelming, so we both need to calm down on the eating front. Then Eat to the Beat came along to challenge our resolve.
Eat to the Beat is a charity event that we covered last year, and it is a fabulous one. Sixty female chefs from around the province join together for a night, preparing a bite sized portion of their signature dishes, from savoury to sweet, and the proceeds go to support women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. The funds are handled through the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, and this is not just some vague fundraising campaign (I have done quite a lot of reading and research on the generic pink ribbon stuff like the Komen Foundation, Walk For The Cure and the efficacy of these groups are nebulous at best). The CBFC has invested hundreds of millions of dollars into research, funded scientific grants and poured money into support networks for the real people who are coping with a breast cancer diagnosis. This is a very fem positive thing and I love the idea of it, so while we debated the cost ($150, per ticket, not bad at all really) and the idea of over indulging (again) we decided it was the right thing to do.
Eat to the Beat is held at Roy Thompson Hall and the tables are set up, winding through the foyer outside the mail auditorium. In addition to the sixty female chefs there were an additional twenty drinks stations offering wine, beer and spirits to the crowd. The first thing you are offered upon arrival are an empty wine glass and some chocolate breasts, courtesy of the Art Square Cafe.
Last year Long and I were off like a shot, liberally sampling as we would our way around the periphery of the hall. We were stuffed before we even got to the half way point. This year we decided to take a more leisurely approach, and walked around to get our bearings, take note of the more intriguing stations, and to map out a plan. We started with savoury on the first pass then moved to sweets for the final leg of the tour, and decided to try not to overindulge. Theoretically.
We started our tour sampling as we worked our way counter clockwise around the room. The chefs were at their best. There were pork sliders and tiny porchetta sandwiches.
Meatballs and slivers of duck breast.
Wontons and delicious soups.
It was a feast for the eyes as well as the bellies, all in bite sized little bundles. The chefs hailed from all over the province, and wandering the floors were a host of efficient staff, whisking away detritus and selling raffle tickets. There were women in brilliant costumes – breast cancer survivors themselves, they were dressed in fabulous hand stitched bustiers and were selling tickets to a grand prize raffle and mystery gift bags.
Long and I bought the latter last year and would have eagerly done so again but they sold out before we had a chance. It was a vibrant, enthusiastic crowd, delighting themselves with the delicious wares and moving to a great DJ and live band, including this amazing violinist.
By the time Long and I had done the savoury pass we were getting pretty full. We paced ourselves, but every time I thought I was done I came upon another booth serving something irresistible. We decided it was high time to switch to sweets. I had stowed away a plastic container to smuggle out desserts in an attempt not to overeat. Tacky, I know, but I tried to be discreet about it. I failed largely, both in discretion and not over eating at the event itself. There were cookies and cream puffs and chocolates and truffles. Kyla Kennaley of Madeleines had a great idea – she had baked and prepackaged authentic French madeleines, and had a jar full of individual packets of French tea. Both were designed to be taken home and enjoyed in a moment of relaxing, Parisian style peace.
Lynn Mendelson was nearby was featuring what she called the “Million Dollar Cookie”, which was a cookie based filled with toffee chips, coated in milk chocolate with slivered almonds. It was fantastic, and when she saw I had my takeaway container she insisted I take a few for later. I did.
We were filled to bursting, and I had a full complement of desserts for the next day (as well as a dozen or so in my belly too). So much for restraint.
Long and I really will try to curb ourselves this year, but I feel no guilt at supporting a cause like Eat to the Beat. Should I feel a little guilty abut bringing a takeaway container? Perhaps. Should I feel even more guilty about not sharing the contents of said takeaway container with anyone? Absolutely. But right now the popcorn is popping and Netflix is warming up, so I will have to get to that later.