I wasn’t entirely surprised last Monday when Culinary Adventure Company’s Grillin’ and Chillin’ BBQ Cooking Class & Pig Roast felt like a backyard/dinner party. The Fuel House is a pub housed in a converted Victorian home on Clinton Street and to get to the back patio you have to walk through the small kitchen. A set of stairs (a fire escape) leads to the apartment upstairs, an apartment that, every time I go to the pub, I think one would be lucky to live in.
I was late and a bit worried about being conspicuously so but when I stepped onto the back patio I found a few people casually hanging out drinking from pitchers of Sapporo beer and glasses of Sandbanks wine. Over the next half hour the backyard filled with people including The Hogtown Pub and Oysters owner Darryl Brown and his chef Josh. The two of them shared some debate and learned some new tools.
The hosts for the evening: Chef Scott of Culinary Adventure Co. and Pork Ninja Jason Rees. While no dress code was specified, Chef Scott commended us all for arriving in the “Barbecue uniform”: Shorts, t-shirt & flip-flops.
The next few hours was a combination of instruction, hands-on and Q & A. It was very conversational, like a friend sharing what he knows at a dinner party while the guests ask questions. Scott demonstrated how to cook chicken, pork, fish and barbecue sauce. He relayed two options for barbecue sauce: Making it from scratch and buying a bottle and modifying it. The latter is what Jason and other barbecue competitors do. Understanding flavours is a big part of it.
I took a ton of notes both for the sake of learning and the sake of blogging this. I learned a lot from both our two hosts. Some knowledge I picked up:
- Use alder wood for fatty fish.
- For fish you can use wood dust because you cook the fish so quickly.
- The closer you get to centre of wood the better flavor but you can use all the parts of cherry wood.
- Fruit wood pairs best with pork.
- Sugar maple works with all red meats.
- You CAN bake chocolate chip cookies over fire. Use oak wood because it has vanilla flavours. For that matter (something I didn’t learn but did remember), you can cook pretty much everything over fire. In the olden days they didn’t have gas and electric stoves.
The evening culminated in a pig roast where conversation flowed as easily as the wine. The suckling pig had been roasting all day in the Fuel House oven, prepared by Fuel House Chef Pete. Sides included mac ‘n’ cheese, corn on the cob, beans and slaw.
The pig head, naturally, went to Jason as guest instructor and resident Pork Ninja. I, naturally, exercised my right as live-in girlfriend to share from his plate. This allowed me to try parts of the pig I’d never had before. I nibbled pig ear. I tasted brain (think it made me smarter?). I popped an eyeball in my mouth, observing that it tasted similar to other offal meat but had a consistency that I wasn’t sure I liked (think similar to tapioca balls that you get in bubble tea). Jason allowed me to have a morsel of pig cheek, one of his favourite parts of the pig. Some years he makes guanciale.
The atmosphere was convivial and educational, which I hear is common in Culinary Adventure Company classes and tours. Don’t believe me? Check Trip Advisor where they’re ranked #1 of 43 tours in Toronto.
Hungry for Jason’s meat? You can still get his competition leftovers every Thursday after 6pm at The Depanneur.
Warning: The following contains images of cooked pig both whole and decapitated with both halves looking the way you might imagine a separated pig head and pig body would look. Images might be disturbing for some.
Miss this one? The next one is August 13th at 6:30 pm. Register here.
Join Culinary Adventure Co and View the Vibe next weekend for their inaugural Ride and Go Feast bus tour
Join View the Vibe, the premier video guide for Toronto Restaurants, Hotels and Spas, & The Culinary Adventure Company next Sunday on The Good Food Bus’ for the first ever Ride and Go Feast event.
This four course roaming feast will introduce you to some of Toronto’s hottest Chefs and best places to dine as you enjoy dishes, cocktails and wines that are unique to this tour.
Also unique to this food tour: By eating your way through the city you’re also providing food for others because 100% of the proceeds go to support The Daily Bread Food Bank!
This recurring event will have feature a different theme each month so you can keep on eating and giving back to a great cause.
Restaurants will be kept secret, only revealed once the bus starts moving. Hop on the bus and let the feasting begin! Book now.