Pass the Table & #FeastON’s 100% grass-fed beef dinner

Several months ago when I started my new website I didn’t know what I was going to do with this one. One possibility that I was drawn to was to keep it up for local events.

Then I went to one and realized that I miss food blogging.

For years my food blog was taking a nutritional angle. I also had these rules about it:

  • If I’m at an event with several other bloggers I need to take a different angle than them, to distinguish myself and my blog. It needed a different voice. It needed uniqueness. This is, in part, how the nutrition/health/wellness emerged. For example, I went to an event at one of the Loblaw’s kitchens that demonstrated a brand of rice milk, and I ended up writing about rice, including a bunch of research about anti-nutrients in rice (it was a research tangent). The health/wellness angle was a way to tie those interests into the desire to be different.
  • I had to write to educate. My blog couldn’t be about vanity. Many “vanity blogs”, blogs that that are all about bragging, are highly successful, but they’re not me.

I also felt like I sucked as a food blogger because I was taking photos without an SLR camera and without proper photography space at home.

Suck or not, I didn’t realize I missed it until recently.

For a few months, as part of my freelance life, I’ve been working for Pass the Table, a  startup company that helps people discover unique dining experiences. (“Experience special venues, bespoke menus, and direct access to top chefs”.) Through Pass the Table, I recently had the unique experience of a 100% grass-fed beef dinner at Cafe Belong at Evergreen Brickworks.

I promoted it through social media channels and pretty quickly after I arrived, I was puzzled about why more people weren’t there. I mean, was puzzled before the event because the description with menu in the website listing (see below) was fascinating. At the dinner itself the service was impeccable. The restaurant smelled AMAZING. The food was spectacular. I couldn’t believe it. As soon as I got there, I was handed wine and steak tartare. I’m still thinking about it two and a half weeks later. Looking at pictures has me salivating and reliving the moment. Those photos are taunting me, wishing that I can have that experience again.

The official description of the dinner (from the Pass the Table website and calendar)

Join all-star chef Brad Long and Bryan Gilvesy of YU Ranch for the Only 100% Grassfed Beef Dinner you’ll eat this year! As an added bonus, award winning cheese maker Ruth Klahsen from Monforte Dairy will be on hand to pair some of Ontario’s most stunning cow’s milk cheeses with this special meal.

Experience the nuances and nutritional value of grassfed beef first hand, and gain an intimate understanding of how true pasture raised beef is raised. Chef Brad will bring some of the butchering and cooking process directly to the table, as he cuts tartare straight from primal cuts and takes you through his all-beef menu like only a great kitchen master can – with reverence for the local ingredients and the systems which they come from.

Chef Brad, Bryan and Ruth will float the room throughout the evening to personally answer any of your questions about the menu, beef farming and cheese making in Ontario. A unique opportunity to engage with all of the parties involved in making your meal happen.

Ruth couldn’t make it. She was missed.

Here’s the menu:

Cafe Belong-Pass the Table-menu

The meal was a GREAT change from the previous week and a half, which I’d spent working in a bar’s kitchen (my man took over a new kitchen space last month) where for dinner I mostly ate fallen French fries. Being taken care of, and fed, felt luxurious.

Highlights (from the notes I took but didn’t know I’d blog):

  • Malivoire Gamay 2014. Jammy, light and beautiful. I haven’t been “into” wine for long time but this made me think that I should be.
  • That tartare! I ate the regular tartare (the chopped beef) and a chunk that was dipped in garlic oil and sprinkled with salt. In a tweet I said, “Beef tartare, grass fed, with salt and garlic confit oil at the @CafeBelong @passthetable dinner is divine.”. “Divine” isn’t generally part of my vocabulary. I could probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve used the word.
Cafe Belong-Pass the Table-tartare

Steak tartare. Grass fed Texas Longhorn cattle from YU Ranch in Tillsonburg, Ontario

Cafe Belong-Pass the Table-tartare-chop

Steak tartare. Grass fed Texas Longhorn cattle from YU Ranch in Tillsonburg, Ontario. I tried to capture the whole chopping/prep process but missed.

  • The “broth & marrow”. About the broth: The soup cup was washed out with lemon first and ginger was then rubbed on the cup. The broth itself was from shanks that went into the ravioli we were served in the previous course. The bone marrow with fleur de sel practically brought tears of joy to my eye, which did roll back into my head in ecstasy. Thinking about it now makes me hungry… and a little bit frisky. It was served with micro greens and a delicious cheesy toast with cheddar – because it was a beef and cheese dinner. The toast was so good, and a complement to the marrow. If I was one to care about fat and calories, I’d find that dish obscene. It probably was, but it was good fat.
Cafe Belong-Pass the Table-marrow-broth

Broth on the left, marrow on the right

Cafe Belong-Pass the Table-marrow-cheese-bread

Marrow and cheesy toast.

 

My man later asked if I’d done the “marrow luge”, where you eat the marrow, and then pour bourbon into the bone and shoot it back. I’d forgotten about that, but it might have seemed to lack class anyway.

  • Rib Eye (steak) & mashed potatoes: The rib eye was perfectly done. An interesting fact: It was chewier than a lot of steak because of the protein. These Texas Longhorn cattle are 30% higher in protein because they grow slower, whereas a lot of farms will do things to make their cows grow faster for higher turnover and cattle sales. I’m not usually a fan of mashed potatoes – I can take them or leave them unless they’re very garlicky – but these were super cheesy and so freakin’ delicious.
  • The cheese plate for dessert was also a favourite because different types of cheese, honey – with the wax – and roasted nuts.

It was sublime.

I had some great conversation with the other diners, the official food blogger that was there, Chef Brad Long and the sommelier.

I forgot that I used to be invited to events like this as a blogger, and often go to them.

So, I’m resurrecting this blog for local events and such, but I can’t promise that I’ll be generating content on a regular basis. Dear PR people: If you have something for me, let me know and I’ll see if it fits here or on my other website. If it doesn’t, I’ll decline, because I mostly avoid taking free stuff for the sake of it being free, when sometimes there are other more appropriate people who could take that place.

Check out Pass the Table for unique off-menu culinary experiences. Sign up for their newsletter. They’ve got some really interesting dinners, workshops and more, not just in Toronto but across Ontario.

If you’ve been a follower of this blog, stayed tuned. Keep me in your RSS feed and your email list. I’ll try to remember to post new posts to social media.

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