Mar 24

The Big Taste 2011 - Over for Another Year

by Elliot Faber · 0 comments

It has been a couple weeks since the end of Big Taste, Calgary’s Dining Festival and now, finally, many of Calgary’s finest restaurants have a moment to breathe. This year saw a great showing of the public all interested in revisiting or trying a new restaurant for the first time in Calgary’s downtown core. Not only did some of Calgary’s hottest downtown restaurants participate, but there was a great showing from restaurants like Il Sogno on the other side of the Bow River to Farm all the way on Uptown 17th. Many of the restaurants had a chance to show off their menus with special BC VQA wine pairings and one lucky winner even received a 60 bottle BC Wine Starter Cellar after they filled out the Patron Survey at the end of The Big Taste!

John Gilchrist’s Big Taste Dining Series was sold out and oversold even! His anecdotes seem to get more fine tuned as time goes on. His stories become more in depth and he knows how to keep a room entertained in between courses. The week was off to a great start after a sold out media lunch at River Cafe led by John Gilchrist. I had the chance to do exciting pairings like Wood Grilled Olson’s Farm Bison Sirloin Burger and the 2008 Black Hills Estate Nota Bene, a great chance for the terroir of Nota Bene to support the flavourful Bison Sirloin. The next day John hosted at Home Tasting Room for a memorable lunch and a day later we experimented with beer and wine pairings at Belgo Brasserie. We even had an evening to preview the Salut Wine + Food Festival Test Kitchen series at CHARCUT with a large format feast of magnum sized wine and beer bottles to pair with a five course meal prepared almost entirely of a local Olson’s High Country Bison named Benny including buffalo milk cheesecake! We wrapped up the John Gilchrist dining series at Mango Shiva where John Gilchrist taught a group of us how to read a the label on a bag of rice and how similar it was to reading a wine label! At that same lunch, I had the opportunity to pair aromatic white wines from BC VQA wine producers such as Hester Creek and Summer Hill.

A long time wine festival event in Vancouver, Rocky Mountain Chef Meets Grape made it’s debut in Calgary: an exciting celebration of Calgary restaurants and how well they match up with BC wines. This year, Olives cleaned up earning both the judges’ and consumers’ choice for best dish and pairing in a room filled with 200 plus people at Hotel Arts on an ice cold Wednesday night. Next year they certainly have a title to defend!

Downtown Calgary wine stores Metrovino, The Wine Cottage, The Cellar, and 100 Wines | David Walker joined in the spirit of the week by offering discounts and tastings of BC VQA wines during the entire week and we wrapped up the week with a festival style tasting at 100 | Wines where David Walker poured some of BC’s most iconic VQA producers, complimentary, to an enthusiastic and affluent audience. Catch Restaurant even had a cooking class but was sure to pair the results of the cooking class with wines from our neighbors across the mountains.

With a new name, new friends and an even busier downtown core,  The Big Taste was heaven for Calgary’s amateur and professional foodies. Wait until next year where the food will be more delicious, the competition more fierce, the wines even more meticulously paired, and each restaurant even more excited to express their own unique menus in a format that will keep you coming back for more. Make sure to keep bookmarked for next year!

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