The Event: Announcement of the winners of the 2009 Canadian Culinary Book Awards (hosted by Cuisine Canada and University of Guelph)
The Venue: Direct Energy Centre Building, adjacent to the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair.
The Target Audience: contenders, their guests and the media. A large number of people turned up, which is always a good sign.
The Quote/Background: More than 50 cookbooks published in Canada in 2008 were assessed since April, 2009. These are the 12th annual presentations, the second at the Royal Winter Fair.
The Wines: we had three wines, all from Niagara College Teaching Winery. First up was the Sauvignon Blanc 2008, which caught me by surprise since it was straw and golden in colour, and did not have the initial zest of a sauvignon blanc. It was an atypical wine, served with the appetizers (crab and cucumber, asparagus and Balderson cheese with toast) prepared by Rootham Gourmet Preserves, using some of their preserves. With the reception food, we had a Cabernet Franc 2006 (nicely maturing, even throwing a deposit) and a Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2007 from the Ziraldo Vineyard in St. David. The chardonnay was excellent, redolent with lanolin unctuousness and oak tones, and the same colour as the Sauvignon Blanc.
And the award goes to…: it took a while to get through the bilingual introductions. The awards were for both French and English language books. The winner of the Canadian Culinary Landmarks Hall of Fame (a new category reserved for Hall of Fame type books) was "Culinary Landmarks; a bibliography of Canadian cookbooks, 1825-1949" by Elizabeth Driver (UTPress). The Gold winner in the English Cookbook Category was "Small plates for Sharing" edited by Laurie Stempfle (Company's Coming Publishing). The Gold in the English Special Interest Category was "Beyond the Great Wall; recipes and travels in the other China" (Random House Canada) by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid. And the Gold for the English Canadian Food Culture Category was "Anita Stewart's Canada" (HarperCollins). For other winners and French language winners, check www.cuisinecanada.ca.
The Food: At the closing reception for the winners, we enjoyed a range of dishes prepared by Jeff Crump of Ancaster Old Mill (risotto with cauliflower and mushrooms), Jim Loat of Borealis Grille in Guelph (smoked elk ragout on red fife tagliatelle), David Garcelon of the Fairmont Royal York Hotel (pork loin from Willowgrove Hill Farm with cabbages), baking and pastry students from George Brown Chef School (cookies, apple-cheddar savoury muffins with prosciutto slices, butternut squash bisque), and Wanda Beaver from Wanda's Pie in the Sky (pecan pies, cookies, etc.)
The Website: www.cuisinecanada.ca will have further details on these awards plus more.
The Downside: all the food service lines were packed into one corner which made for a really bad traffic jam. The other end of the room was free, and George Brown and Wanda could have been located there.
The Upside: food was terrific, and matched rather well with the wines. With the long lines it was impossible NOT to talk to others around you.
The Contact Person: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 90.