5th Annual Northern Food Night: Country Food in the Big City

For those people who attended our 5th Northern Food Night, THANK YOU! If it was your first time, congratulations…you can now cross off “eating whale blubber and raw musk ox” from your culinary bucket list.

Whale Bacon and Eggs
 Char Carpaccio with Scotch Bonnet Dip
 Sea Cucumber on Cayenne Croquette
Deep-fried Whale Blubber (the surprise hit of the night!)
 Pangnirtung Turbot with caviar and Haida Gwaii Butter Poached Gho
 Flaming the foie gras
Grouse Jjigae with Foie Gras and Kimchi
 Piping the pie!
Klondike Apple Pie with Gold Pemmican Ice Cream
The Full Menu (click to enlarge)
When Steve and I travel throughout the Arctic, we regularly bring home musk ox, caribou, char and various dried meats–northern products that are routinely referred to as country food. On Saturday, we had country food in big city style–not something that happens routinely at all.
Putting together an event such as this takes a huge amount of teamwork, skill and manpower. Unending thanks goes to Chefs Louis Charest who created the menu and took time off from his demanding position as the Chef to the Governor General at Rideau Hall, as well as to Paul Finkelstein who flew to Edmonton straight from a speaking engagement in Toronto to be a part of our Northern Food Night. Also, we are greatly indebted to Chef Emmanuel David and the culinary team at Bistro La Persaud for their assistance in helping pull off an extraordinary event.
 Chefs Emmanuel David, Louis Charest and Paul Finkelstein prepping dishes at Bistro La Persaud.
Chef Charest with Chef Kunal at the Bistro.
Before the actual event, tons of prep was done at the culinary facility at NAIT.  We even put Mark Hills to work cleaning mussels. Mark’s company, Hills Foods from Coquitlam, BC, supplied the air-dried wild Arctic musk ox called Mipkuzola for the charcuterie plate. (Hills Foods also carries camel, kangaroo and other exotic meats.)
 Men with mussels.
Chef Charest prepares the Char at NAIT.
Chef Charest and me going over last minute details of the NFN menu.
The problem with having someone like Louis Charest stay with you is that he has an innate ability to ferret out sprouting things in your pantry…things that shouldn’t be sprouting.
And of course we have to thank those who attended the event and for letting us share foods from the North with with them–again. We really appreciated the enthusiasm and the response.
 Lee Ahlstrom of Ahlstrom Wright Oliver and Cooper and Chef Charest.
We enjoyed outstanding Okanagan wines selected by Satesh at Crestwood Fine Wines and Spirits. Satesh is a font of knowledge when it comes to pairing wine and he selected some real beauties for our meal.
Now, we start preparing for the James Beard Foundation in New York where we will showcase, again, the wonderful products from Canada’s Arctic at a dinner there May 14th.
Of course, events such as these could not be made possible without our generous friends and sponsors at: Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation
Nunavut Development Corporation
Thank you again, to everyone who ate, prepped and helped out. Steve and I really appreciate it.

Author: Twyla Campbell

World-wide wanderer, CBC Edmonton AM Restaurant Reviewer, Member of Edmonton’s Slow Food convivium, oenophile, epicurean explorer and a freelance writer whose works have appeared in several magazines and newspapers including More, Above & Beyond, Avenue (Edmonton), Up Here, Northern Flyer, Opulence, City Palate, the Edible Prairie Journal, The Edmonton Journal, Slow Food Canada, Lifestyle Alberta, and on Slow Food Edmonton’s website. Grant MacEwan University (Professional Writing Program) Bachelor of Applied Communications Degree (in progress). I’m a Tweeter @wanderwoman10

11 thoughts on “5th Annual Northern Food Night: Country Food in the Big City

  1. That was scotch bonnet dip? They must not have used a lot of scotch bonnet – I don’t remember it burning a hole in my tongue.

  2. It is very disturbing to me that you are promoting the killing and eating of Bowhead whales- an endangered species. How is this promoting Canadian food on the international stage? It merely highlights our embarrassing treatment of our endangered organisms, which is an area that we are already criticized for.

  3. Wow Twyla the Northern Food Night you and Steve started five years ago has really evolved into something spectacular this year with Chefs Paul and Louis are leading the team. The dishes all look absolutely stunning, and certainly are most worthy of showcasing at the NYC culinary mecca James Beard House next month. I hope everyone who eats this food comes to appreciate how these extremely special ingredients have been truly honoured by your culinary dream team.

  4. Thanks Steve, it was a great night. We love educating people about the food that the Inuit have been surviving on for centuries – although their methods of serving it are very unlike how it was served that night.

  5. Thanks for the comment, Anonymous. We don’t promote the killing of anything. We strive to enlighten and educate southerners of the way of life of the Inuit — a lifestyle unknown to many people. It’s important to learn of the food and the people who harvest them. Some of these foods are available commercially, some are not.You will not find whale on shelves of stores like Safeway or Sobeys. When a whale is harvested, it is used to feed the family not only of the hunter, but of families in communities along the coast. The hunters share and use every part of the animal. Nothing goes to waste. Recent Inuit knowledge and aerial surveys suggest that the population of the bowhead is increasing in size. There is a small, carefully managed survival hunt which does not pose a risk to the population. In Canada, the Cetacean Protection Regulations of 1982 protect the Bowhead whale; the killing of Bowhead whales without a license has been prohibited in Canada since 1979. An exemption makes it possible for aboriginal peoples to continue hunting the Bowhead, but this hunt is monitored, managed and subject to quotas to ensure against over-harvest. This information is courtesy of:
    Species at Risk Act (SARA) http://www.registrelep-sararegistry.gc.ca

  6. Apparently the dip had scotch bonnet, safron,lemon, lime, orange and grapefruit in it…I didnt find it hot either. I found the musk ox cube (in berber dust) hotter!

  7. Twyla,
    We have heard nothing but raves of positive comments about the gracious hosting yourself and Steve offered your many guests this night.This was a rare opportunity for any Canadian and we are very fortunate to have the two of you here to share your knowledge of Northern life and food with us and others. I am sorry that I missed it. Whale blubber is something I have learned about and been curious about since I was a child and was told that the children eat it like candy. I have always wanted to have a sleep over in an igloo. I have always wanted to spend time visiting my Northern countrymen. Maybe if I bribe Maria, she will share her trip with me? I am certainly willing to make it worth her while!

  8. Thanks Valerie. I’m so sorry you had to miss this year’s NFN…next year we’ll give you tons of warning! I’m so happy that Maria won the trip…as far as bribing her to tag along? Hmmm…who knows? 🙂

  9. I liked reading your article, but I have some questions. I am quite particular on the fish I consume (mostly just canned wild salmon) as most of the worlds fish supplies are heavily contaminated with mercury. I use http://www.gotmercury.org as my guildline.

    It appears, but I am not certain, that the farther south fish travel, and the higher up the food chain they are the more mercury in the meat. So, my question of course, is have the fish from the northern fisheries you eat been tested for mercury levels? And if so, where is that information found?

  10. Hi Brent,
    All the meat and fish we get from the North has been federally inspected and also has EU Certification as well (the ability to export to Europe). EU certification requires the exporter to abide by incredibly stringent regulations and guidelines pertaining to the catching, processing and packaging of product that is safe to consume. If you want further information, I’d suggest going to the Nunavut Development Corporation at http://www.ndcorp.nu.ca/ndc/subs/meatandfish/ and clicking on one of the locations at the bottom of the page (Kitikmeot, Kivalliq, Pangnirtung) to learn about the processing plants and procedures. There will be email addresses of people to contact if you want to pursue the topic in greater depth…they’ll be able to answer your specific mercury questions much better than I. Hope that helps!

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