From November 7-10, I was invited to the 26th Christmas in November as a Gastropost blogger/tweeter. It was a wonderful experience! Check out a collection of my tweets here, my Day 1 recap + recipes, Day 2 recap + recipes, and Day 4 recap & recipes!
On Day 3 of Christmas in November, we awoke to a winter wonderland!
As if the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge could get anymore scenic and gorgeous… we welcomed the snow with open arms because it just made the place even prettier!
We kicked off the day with a session on cheese and crackers with Pierre Lamielle and Julie Van Rosendaal. I recognized Pierre from his stint on Top Chef Canada Season 4. A Calgary chef and amazing illustrator, Pierre wears awesome T-shirts (designed by him!) and is super funny. I knew of Julie from Brittney – a food writer, food nutrition columnist and blogger – also from Calgary. She’s also hilarious and super talented! The two are friends who recently worked on a cook book together called Alice Eats!
Pierre and Julie demonstrated Nutcrackers with Stilton and Port Pickled Sugar-Plum Prunes, Cranberry-Mandarin Christmas Preserves over Brie, Marinated Feta on Za’atar Pasta Roller Cracker, Gruyere Gogeres and Pickled Sugar-Plum Prunes and Feta Cheese. Get three of the recipes below!
The Za’atar Pasta Roller Cracker and the Gruyere Gougeres are sooooooo tasty!!
Here are a few great (but mostly just funny) tips that stood out for me from Pierre and Julie’s session:
- Pierre says only add salt if you want food to taste good, but “if you don’t want it to taste good don’t worry about it.”
- For the Za’atar pasta roller cracker, use just a bit of Sumac. “Sumac in small quantities is delicious, too much and it will kill you.” Audience asks: “How much is too much?” Pierre: “You’ll know.” (because you’ll be dead lol)
- With the dough recipe in the pasta roller cracker, use all-purpose flour and then it can go in either direction: pasta or crackers. “All-purpose flour makes all-purpose dough ;)”
- The difference between sugar and flour: Sugar sparkles. Flour is dull. (But if you can’t tell the difference based on taste, you shouldn’t be cooking – Julie says, lol).
I think Pierre and Julie’s session had the largest quantity of samples for attendees – they had a bunch of everything they demo-ed, already pre-made, so that was awesome. I had about 7 gougeres – no shame. So good!
Thank you Pierre and Julie for a wonderful session! I can’t wait to try making some of your cheese + crackers!
After lunch was the JACEK Chocolate session! Now I don’t really have a sweet tooth so I wasn’t sure how into this session I would be – but let me tell you, Jacqueline Jacek is a fantastic presenter with a wonderful story, the coolest chocolate concept, and delicious chocolates!
She gave us wonderful background on fine chocolate. (Did you know cocoa beans are made up of 50% cocoa powder and 50% cocoa liquor). She also shared her lovely approach to her business! Jacqueline is a cocoanista. She has a love of fashion and a love of chocolate so she decided to merge the two together – she’s a chocolate designer. She runs JACEK on a fashion business model, releasing new chocolate collections for each fashion season.
Jacqueline uses a great fashion analogy to explain the difference between a chocolatier and a chocolate maker. Jacqueline is a chocolatier – she doesn’t create the fabric (cocoa bean turns it into chocolate), but she buys the fabric (cocoa beans/chocolate) and makes her dress.
Did you know:
- Dark chocolate lasts for about a year and a half.
- Milk and white chocolate lasts for less than a year.
- The difference between confectionary and fine chocolate (other than the price) is the amount of cocoa butter. In confectionary, they take out the cocoa butter and replace with fat wax because cocoa butter is very valuable. Only fine chocolate contains cocoa butter.
Most importantly: JACEK is pronouned “Jay-Sick!” ;)
Jacqueline showed us how to temper chocolate and make chocolate truffles.
(Note: You can substitute invert sugar with corn syrup or honey)
It’s important to temper fine chocolate or else it will start to bloom (and look weird) in just a few days. Untempered chocolate isn’t bad – it just wasn’t tempered right. When you temper chocolate, you’re melting out crystals.
PRO TIP: Get a marble slab from IKEA (if you don’t have a marble top in the kitchen) and temper with that. You want to use the marble surface when tempering because marble slabs are naturally cooler – and the cold accelerates the tempering process. Tempering chocolate requires time, temperature and movement. You’ve got to scoop, scrape, shake, and tap!
When tempering you want the temperature to be 32C for dark chocolate and 30C for white and milk chocolate.
PRO TIP: Don’t touch chocolates with your bare hands – wear gloves. It won’t look like there are fingerprints on the chocolates at first but they’ll show up in just a couple of days.
Jacqueline encourages everyone to be their own cocoanistas. Use real ingredients (your favourite ingredients) to infuse flavour into your chocolates!
I think Jacqueline’s story is amazing. When she first started JACEK Chocolate in 2009, she made 3,000 chocolate truffles for Christmas (by herself). The year after that, she made 16,000 truffles. After that, 32,000 truffles. This year, she expects to make 100,000 handmade truffles (with 14 people on staff). It’s amazing how people have latched on to her wonderful chocolates and the joy they bring her. Jacqueline and her team are all about joy!
It was a fantastic session that I was much more interested in than I thought I would be (given my leaning towards savoury over sweet). But I was totally impressed and thought she made the idea of making your own chocolates really simple! I can’t wait to try making potato chip-infused chocolates! ;)
Now my last session of the day was supposed to be with Chef Corbin but by that time I was so tired from all the tweeting (I tell you, it’s work!!) that I sent Brittney a note to tell her I was all sessioned-out, and she asked if I wanted to go to her cabin for a work/blog party. So I happily accepted (after taking a photo with Chef Corbin! Thanks Chef. Fun fact: Back in 2010 I wrote a story about Chef Corbin for the NAIT Nugget (student paper!)
— Brittney Le Blanc (@britl) November 9, 2014
After a much-needed session break (but not really a break – I blogged recipes for Gastropost), we got ready for the Christmas in November GALA!
It was especially exciting because we were celebrating Brittney’s birthday!
Brittney is a wonderful, wonderful lady and we were all excited to celebrate her birthday at Christmas in November!
The gala dinner featured amazing mushroom ravioli, endive, radicchio and frisee salad, and buttermilk braised Alberta pork tenderloin.
One of the highlights of the night for me was Chef Lynn Crawford stopping at our table, chatting, commenting about the social media screen, and then taking a selfie with me! Love her!
I also ran into a colleague from NAIT, who wanted to tweet about the awesome weekend but wasn’t sure how – so I helped her get some tweets out!
— Ellen Hughes (@ellenh123) November 10, 2014
After dinner, the amazing chefs and servers at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge came out for a well-deserved standing ovation!
I can’t imagine the work that goes into putting together all of those fantastic meals (and Christmas in November in general), so really, kudos to the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge team.
We’re not partiers, so shortly after dinner and applauding the Fairmont Jasper Park staff, we called it a night.
Day 3 (like Day 2) of Christmas in November was packed with wonderful sessions, people, and of course – food! Stay tuned for my last day #JasperCIN recap!