Starting off the day with coffee from Transcend and ginger apricot scones from Queen of Tarts would make one think that the day could not get much better, but it did. Spending Saturday at the first ever Eat Alberta Conference meant my day just kept getting better and better!
After a busy week at work and an extended fun-filled Easter weekend visit with my parents the thought did cross my mind to just stay in bed Saturday morning and skip out on the conference.
What a terrible move that would have been. I am so glad I attended! I had a fantastic time, met great people, learned a lot, and ate a ton of fantastic food!
Furthermore, the day went off without a hitch. The organizers did a splendid job and I am sure that next year’s event will feature another sell-out crowd of very happy participants.
We started off the day with the morning keynote talk featuring Jenny and James from Sundog Organics. The talk provided wonderful insight into the life of a local food producer and Jenny shared some great tips and pointers about producing food on your own. The information about obtaining seed from small producers such as Heritage Harvest Seed and Salt Spring Seeds will really come in handy now that spring has finally arrived! I will be sure to stop in at their stall this summer at the downtown farmers market.
My first session was Honey Tasting with Patty Milligan from Lola Canola. I will confess that this was the session I was most excited about and it was great. We got to try 8 different types of honey from all over the world: mango blossom honey from Indonesia, acacia honey from Europe, blackberry honey from the USA, and traditional sweet clover honey from Canada.
Keeping with the spirit of the conference we also got to try some great honey from Alberta, which was one of my favourites. I will definitely be picking up some dandelion honey from Lola Canola’s booth at the Downtown Farmer’s market at the end of the month. Another favourite was the raspberry honey (the real McCoy, not honey flavoured with raspberries) from British Columbia and of course my all time favourite buckwheat honey from Saskatchewan.
Who knew that there is such a variety of honey out there and that bees are so interesting. Thanks to Ms Milligan for a truly informative and tasty session!
Next I was off to learn about edible plants from around Edmonton with local botanist Robert Rogers. I was surprised to learn that fireweed is an edible plant. Apparently the shoots are reminiscent of fresh asparagus and the flowers make a great addition to a salad. He also went into great deal about cattail. I was very interested to learn that the pollen from the brush like top of cattail can be collected and combined 50/50 with wheat flour to make delicious crepes.
He also talked about a popular plant around the city-the bearer of the tart rosehip. I have always wanted to forage for rosehips and make some jelly and if I ever do get around to it I will take Robert’s hint to pick the berries after the first frost. Apparently this makes it easier to separate the pulp from the seeds. If you are interested in learning more about edible wild plants take a look at Robert’s website for upcoming events!
Stay tuned for my next post on the afternoon edition of the Eat Albert Conference 2011!