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Category: Abbotsford

Long Table Dinner at Singletree Winery

“Handmade and Homegrown” with Tourism Abbotsford

Today I was invited down to Abbotsford to learn more about their new marketing campaign: “Handmade and Homegrown”. We gathered at “Singletree Winery” for a harvest themed event, which spoke to “Abbotsford’s booming agricultural scene, unique food culture, and fall offerings.

The heavy downpour put a damper on the evening’s plans, but with an erected tent and enough rain cover, we made the best out of the wet situation.

Our arrival began the reception, where we were treated to a welcome glass of “Singletree’s” sparkling wine. A light effervescent sipper that paired well with the large help yourself charcuterie board in the corner. This was a rustic platter of assorted meat and cheeses supplied by “Lepp Farm Market” and “Mt. Lehman cheese”. You grazed on the above, pairing it with crisp crackers, rye and sourdough loaf, seeded bread, and crusty baguette. Then dipped and spread your way through beetroot and chickpea hummus; roasted pumpkin, chilli and tahini; and eggplant and roasted garlic baba ganoush. There were also pickled bites and fresh fruit to nibble on. Pitted olives, pickled artichoke, strawberries donated by “Maan Farms”; and candied walnuts sweetened with honey from “Campbell’s gold honey farm and meadery”.

We grazed and chatted while awaiting the main event: the grape stomp. This will be my first ever grape stomp, and another one crossed off the foodie bucket list. The only thing I was missing was being able to pick the grape from the vine, and then drinking the squished product. For hygienic reasons, this is no longer the way juice is extracted from grapes, so it was a treat to be able to kick it old school, literally.

In groups of three we lined up behind the giant buckets filled with grapes still on stem. Then all participants stomped their hearts out, competing to see which team would produce the most juice. Speaking from my own experience it was fun, but tiring. Grapes between your toes, juice splashing against your ankles, and a warm foot bath waiting for you when your turn is done. Our team did not win, but everyone, who got to try, won in experience.

For how the stomping went, and the rest of this one of a kind night, check out my latest vlog, now up on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

Then it was time for our long table feast. Two tables set under the glow of strung up lights. Each laid with grape vines and silver plated chalices filled with actual grapes. They set the tone and spoke to the farm land we were dining on.

Our dinner was prepared by “White Table Catering Co.”. It featured plenty of local produce and products from neighbouring farms and businesses in Abbotsford; much like the charcuterie board above was. Their menu was created to reflect the transition of the season from summer to fall.

We started with the “zucchini veloute”, a luxurious soup. Soup so thick and creamy that it ate like dessert. It was given more depth with the roasted tomato tart finish. It was a two bite flaky pastry, topped with a micro herb salad for some freshness.

The next dishes were served family style, featuring locally grown vegetables. Platters that were passed from person to person as we took our fill and went back for more. The two salads were heartier, and exactly like how I want all my salads to be. The “Turmeric cauliflower salad” was crispy florets sweetened by bits of dates and pomegranate, given spice with coriander, and tang with yoghurt. I could eat this and the green salad below, every day.

The “Ladolemono salad” was green bean, asparagus, almond, and radish. More crispy vegetables, seasoned perfectly in butter, to allow them to shine through with their freshness. And the almonds slivers and the radish slices offered a different kind of textural crisp.

The “Roasted eggplant” was seasoned in Mediterranean spices, served with a thick Catalan tomato sauce, raw red pepper, and goat feta from “Mt. Lehman cheese”. You must like eggplant to enjoy this one; but if you don’t, the flavourful sauce and salty cheese does help to mask both the soggier texture and distinct taste of the purple vegetable. Good, but I would have preferred this as side to the chicken below, instead of a main on its own.

I much more preferred the “Roasted Brussels sprouts” with lemon yoghurt, dehydrated strawberries, more “Mt. Lehman” goat cheese, and crushed up hazelnuts. Another well balanced vegetable dish that gave you a great collection of tastes and texture to sort through. If I had access to such dishes more regularly, I would be a lot more healthier.

And lastly “roasted chicken” with a squash and pumpkin purée, and a corn and heirloom tomato succotash salad. This was my favourite of the savoury dishes. Tender and juicy quality chicken breast from “Rossdown Farms”, paired with every taste and textured side I would want with my lean chicken. Starchy purée, sweet corn, and juicy tomato.

And for dessert, it was one of the most beautiful panna cottas I have ever had. Roasted plum compote, pistachio, edible flowers, and honey from “Campbell’s gold honey farm and meadery”. A perfectly light dessert to end on. Just as fresh and beautifully done as all the courses before it. Tart plum and a silken pudding flavoured mildly like coconut. Conversing with my table mates, everyone else enjoyed this and their meal just as much.

And with dessert we enjoyed the 2015 Late Harvest Kerner from the Okanagan Valley. This smaller bottle of sweet dessert wine, left a great impression on everyone. It was so tasty, that I would mind just drinking this for dessert.

And with the first 6 of our 7 course meal we enjoyed either/or, or both a red and white from “Singletree’s” collection. Their 2017 pinot gris made from grapes grown in the Fraser Valley, and their 2015 Harness with grapes gathered from their vineyards in the Okanagan. Both wines perfectly reflecting the theme of “homemade and homegrown”. “Singletree” is terroir driven, they focus on the grapes that naturally grow well in this climate, thus giving you a true taste of Abbotsford.

You may have missed this culinary experience, but you can still enjoy the hospitality of the “Singletree Winery” through their events and use of their property. “Wind-down Friday” hosts local musicians as they perform live. And on any dry day, you can grab a seat in their licensed picnic area. Pull open a book, or see if you can spot some of the wild life that visit. The wild animals can be caught nibbling from the wild fruits that still grow in the area; seeing as the property use to be the largest fruit orchard in the city, with a focus on blueberries. Black bears, deers, and birds of prey.

SINGLETREE WINERY
5782 Mount Lehman Rd, Abbotsford, BC V4X 1V4
(604) 381-1788
singletreewinery.com

#handmadehomegrown
#cultivatedcity
#exploreabbotsford

KFC Cooking School

An opportunity came up on my Facebook feed and it was one that I just couldn’t ignore.

I have often professed that my favourite fried chicken is that of KFC, an opinion that comes with a bias, thanks to my particular French Canadian partner. Who also claims his favourite chicken to be that of the Kentucky fried kind.

So when I saw that KFC was hosting the
“World’s First KFC Cooking School”, I had to attend and add this to my bucket list. This was a class that will give a few lucky Canadian fans, such as ourselves, the ability to learn how to cook just like the Colonel. Although this did not include finding out the ingredients to their 11 herbs and spices blend.

After registering right away and paying the steep tuition of $5 per person, to guarantee our position at the quick to sell out event, the only other challenge to living the dream was to drive all the way to Abbotsford to attend the class. It is nice to note that, all tuition fees are donated directly to “Add Hope”, KFC’s global charitable initiative to help fight world hunger.

Currently they only had a day of classes in Toronto, Calgary or Abbotsford, BC. We choose the last class of the day at 3pm. I figured this will give them the practice to have smoothed out all the kinks and deliver their best executed class, for us.

The entire restaurant was closed for this special event. And they flew in Mike, “KFC’s franchise business consultant (over over 5 years) to be our host/guide. And to help him, he brought along, one of their KFC cook, working out of one of their Coquitlam locations to instruct us. He too had five years with the company under his belt.

But first debunking some myths. The class was also a chance for them to open their doors and show that they have nothing to hide. They wanted people like us, fans and foodies alike, to know where their chicken comes from and how they do it. That each fried piece of poultry is made fresh, from scratch, and has been since 1952. And in the case of Canada, only using chicken from Canadian farms. The same chicken that you and I get in grocery stores all across the country. There are no growth hormone or steroids used, and no they don’t breed chickens with multiple legs and wings for optimal harvest. Overall there is something to be said about seeing is believing.

So to watch the making of KFC fried chicken and witness all that we learned from the workshop, click to watch the video below.

 

The event was a closed door affair. The restaurant wasn’t serving guests today. It was just ourselves locked, in and a security guard to watch over our belongs. After signing in we geared up with aprons and hairnets, and then breached their back of house operations. Walking behind the counter, and entering the out of regular customer view, kitchen. An industrial operation including continuously running exhaust fans and stainless steel hardware.

We were given a tour of the place from front of house operations to the equipment needed to run their day to day. From sinks and heating apparatuses to towers of buckets and heaps of of condiment packages.

Our tour ended with their so called “raw station” where the class portion of the afternoon would begin. After a vigorous tutorial on the etiquette of proper hand washing, we rolled up our sleeves and began at the flour station.

Chicken was removed from the freezer and picked through for impurities. The occasional loose tag, or a feather still in place get removed here. The already cut up chicken parts get a dip in water to clean and to coat. The latter helps with the breading process.

The flour batter has their secret mix of spices already added in. Each ingredient and it’s exact measurement is added at 11 different stops. Not one location knows the entire recipe. A few know what goes into it, but not how much of each or even all of it together. It is most definitely a well kept secret.

The spices are heavier than the flour and therefore it constantly needs to be sifted together to ensure even distribution of seasoning when coated over the chicken. This is also where the dredging process begins. With two clean hands the chef performs a specific rhythm of scooping and folding, scooping and lifting, then a pressing and pushing motion to end on. All to ensure the most even distribution of flour on chicken.

Once adequately breaded, two at a time assorted chicken parts are shaken loose of any excess flour; by a shake and tap motion. From here they are arrange on a wire rack to be fried. Like everything else, this too has a very specific process to it. The chicken parts are placed with the largest closest to the edge and the smallest at the centre.

Each individual tray of nine pieces is placed within a wire caddy, with a possibility of frying four trays at a time, 36 pieces of chicken total. Secured in the cage carry tray, the raw chicken is gingerly lowered into a pressure cooker of oil and sealed shut to cook at a high temperature for 13.5 minutes. Inside they will go through browning, cooking, and finishing.

After the allotted time the chicken, tray and all, is removed from its oil bath and allowed to drain and dry. And given the need, the chicken is either served to order or placed on stand by in one of their temperature controlled units. The former guarantees burnt tongues, the latter has it being served ready to eat at slightly higher than room temperature.

Our time here ended with our choice of fountain drink and a box of the chicken we helped make, to dine in or take out. Considering we got a two piece meal with fries and gravy, the $5 admission for charity, made this event well worth our time. Besides the gas, mileage, and travelling from Burnaby to Abbotsford of course.

This was such a unique way to bring brand awareness to KFC. And for once, such an occasion was made available in Canada first. A fun event for those like my partner and myself who are fans for the brand and the food they make, getting a chance to experience it in a different way. I hope for more events like this like this in the future. Maybe ones from Pizza Hut or Taco Bell, as they are all under the same parent company? Don’t deny your cravings.

 

KFC
2047 Sumas Way, Abbotsford BC, V2S 8H6
604-504-3861
kfc.ca/store/14-2047-sumas-way-abbotsford
KFC Abbotsford Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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