Elk Ridge Resort Epicurean Weekend. April 11.15. East Coast Chowder & Fresh Baked Biscuits

Elk Rdige Epicurean Cooking Demonstration There are so many things a person can learn by attending an Epicurean based event and the Elk Ridge 2nd event of the weekend delivered tons of tips.
We knew we were in for a special treat when we learned the lunch program would be an East Coast Cooking Demonstration on traditional East Coast Chowder with Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits.

Elk Ridge Resort Chef Ron MacNeil

Elk Ridge Resort Chef Ron MacNeil

Chef Ron MacNeil arrived at Elk Ridge Resort in November 2014 after establishing his previous establishment, The Birches, as a 5-star Dining Facility & Resort in his home of Cape Breton … an area renowned for it’s seafood, so we had an idea the East Coast Chowder would be phenomenal.
Chef Ron came through with an amazingly hearty rendition of the thick soup whose name origins are unclear.

Chef Ron starts the East Coast Chowder

Chef Ron starts the East Coast Chowder

As Elk Ridge Resort Food & Beverage Manager Jay Klarenbach explained, the word “chowder” is believed to be derived from the French “Chaudere” or “Chaudre”, the latter of which refers to a thick, fish soup.  Both Jay & Ron have had experience with the rustic style of soup preparation. A big soup pot is fired in a general area, like a beach, and all the townsfolk contribute something … the fishermen donate part of their daily catch, the farmers come together with a variety of vegetables, including potatoes, carrots & whole corn on the cob. All who contribute to the “soup” enjoy the fruit of their labour in a large community setting.
As a result of this sea-side upbringing, Chef Ron is a seafood specialist who loves to work with local farmers & fishermen  to produce the best possible products for guests of Elk Ridge Resort.

Throughout the Seafood Chowder with Biscuits demonstration, Chef Ron gave marvellous cooking tips.
When it comes to mussels, they must be alive prior to cooking. How to tell? Rinse them completely, making sure the shell is closed. If it’s open, give it a tap and the mussel should close indicating the mussel is alive.
If not, or if the shell is broken in any way, make sure to discard it.

To our delight, the mussels we enjoyed today were of the freshest selection, having been flown in from the East Coast just for the Elk Ridge Epicurean Weekend.

Chef Ron's Seafood Chowder w/ Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits

Chef Ron’s Seafood Chowder w/ Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits

For the vegetables in the chowder, Chef Ron explained it’s best to use potatoes of the starchy variety, like Russet, preferable to a waxy variety like Fingerling.
The best onion to use is the Spanish White.  Avoid using a red onion to prevent discolouration.

Although he prefers to use the freshest ingredients available, there does come a time when dry seasonings work to an advantage, as in the case of the Thyme used in the creamy Chowder.

Here’s a couple more helpful kitchen hints:
To make Creme Fraiche, add 2 tablespoons of buttermilk to a litre of heavy cream.
To make Buttermilk, add 2 tablespoons of Lemon Juice to a litre of white milk, leaving it to sit on the counter overnight.

Doug & Monica. Elk Ridge Epicurean Weekend guests.

Monica & Doug

The soup Chef prepared was more than filling for all 65 people in attendance for the Cooking Demonstration … and he did it all while answering a multitude of great questions from the attendees  and giving us a ton of helpful kitchen hints.

The lovely couple with whom I sat mentioned that part of the reason they chose to attend the Elk Ridge Epicurean Weekend was to expand their Wine & Food experience. Monica & Doug, long-time members of the Opimian Wine Society, said they’ve picked up all kinds of food preparation & cooking tips from not only Chef Ron, but also from the many new friends they’ve made during the events.

The next event for Elk Ridge Resort is the “Annual Taste of Elk Ridge” on Friday May 1, 2015. It’s their “Welcome Back” event that showcases the talents of the Executive Chef’s Summer Menu.
Better book early … judging from the success thus far of the Elk Ridge Epicurean Weekend, future events are sure to be sold out.


Elk Ridge Resort Epicurean Weekend 2015. FF: First Friday!

Elk Ridge Resort Epicurean Weekend April 10-12, 2015

Elk Ridge Resort Epicurean Weekend April 10-12, 2015

It’s a good sign when a “Welcome Package” is ready for distribution, even if one checks in early at a hotel or resort. Such was the case today at Elk Ridge in Waskesiu, Saskatchewan.  All the details I needed to know about the weekend were included, starting with the Welcome Reception at Walleye’s … a great pub where you can kick back in a cozy setting on the grounds of the resort.

Walleye's at Elk Ridge Resort

Walleye’s at Elk Ridge Resort

Things were in full swing when I walked through the door. The Mixologists were hard at work, crafting crazy-good cocktails, using locally-inspired accompaniments from the pride of #Saskatchewan Distilling, Lucky Bastard Vodka & Lucky Bastard Chai Vodka.

Mixologists - Mixing!

Mixologists – Mixing!

Lucky Bastard Distillers is a true Saskatchewan success story. Legend has it the owner won millions  in the lottery (lucky bastard) and decided to put the money to good use by opening a distillery.
I’ve even got the LBDistillers T-shirt that says “Vodka Pays The Bills”
It’s great to see Elk Ridge Resort supporting other Saskatchewan businesses. But when one considers how great all LB Distillers products are … it’s a no-brainer.  Their Gambit Gin is amazing and I’ve become a recent convert to their Chai Vodka!

Mixologists Mixing!

LBDistillers Chai Vodka

It was apparent all the attendees to the Elk Ridge Epicurean Weekend were enjoying the Mixology Demonstration & Cocktail Construction Course

Elk Ridge Resort Epicurean Weekend Welcome Reception at Walleye's

Elk Ridge Resort Epicurean Weekend Welcome Reception at Walleye’s

I’ve mentioned how majestically beautiful Elk Ridge Resort is … but truth is, it’s the people that make it all come together. As as single diner, I greatly appreciated the kindness & attention extended by Mitch Gryschuk, a long term employee with Elk Ridge Resort.
It’s clear he loves the resort, doing double duty in both the Food & Beverage department year-round and the Golf Course in the summer season.

Mitch Gryschuk. Elk Ridge Resort

Mitch Gryschuk. Elk Ridge Resort

Mitch spoke with pride & admiration for Arne Petersen, the founder of Elk Ridge resort, saying “if there’s a hole to be dug or a foundation being poured, Arne is there”. It’s clear the work ethic demonstrated by the founder is revered and emulated by the staff; a quality often lacking in business today.
It was the same with Rona … a really hard-working server who’s attention to detail was astonishing. As a Wine & Spirit Professional who’s attended hundreds of food & beverage related events, I’m always in awe of staff who actually take the time to pay attention to detail … such as polishing each and every glass.

Rona. Stellar Server at Elk Ridge Resort

Rona. Stellar Server at Elk Ridge Resort

Chef Ron MacNeil, who hails from Cape Breton, must also be congratulated for creating the absolutely delicious sliders which were served during the reception. Featuring an assortment of local meats, each offering was distinct in flavour.  The Lamb Slider had a tatziki-like spread with tasty grape tomatoes garnishing the succulent lamb patty.  Following that was Beef, enhanced perfectly with cheddar cheese and the Chicken Slider had great color added by using spring-mix lettuce & crispy onion rings. The Elk Slider was a revelation with arugula greens & feta cheese.

Lamb.Beef.Elk.Chicken Sliders

Elk Ridge Resort Sliders: Chicken . Elk . Beef . Lamb

The cocktails prepared by the mixologists were the perfect accompaniment to the Sliders.
I ended the evening with a fantastic “Saskatchewan Sangria” which used Black Tea macerated with a trinity of berries including raspberries and Saskatoon berries (of course!) which were frozen for 24hrs with cherry liqueur in individual serving cups to be added as needed to the Sangria.
I started the evening with a cocktail perfectly adapted to this weekend’s Master’s Golf Tournament … the “Spiked Arnold Palmer” made with LBDistillers Chai Vodka, ginger-infused lemonade, Iced Tea & garnished with tasty candied lemon rinds.
That was followed by a cocktail taste sensation … The Ridge Ceasar.
Elk Ridge Resort Food & Beverage Manager & Master Mixologist, Jay Klarenbach, started with an HP Sauce rub to the rim of the highball glass, then dipped the rim in crunchy bacon bits. Over ice, he poured LBDistillers Jalapeño & Garlic infused Vodka and finished it will Clamato juice.
It was amazing!


Elk Ridge Resort Epicurean Weekend 2015

Elk Ridge

Elk Ridge Resort Gate

Elk Ridge Resort is nestled near Prince Albert National Park, an hour north of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. This marks my 1st visit to Elk Ridge, to attend their renowned Epicurean Weekend from April 10 – 12, 2015.
While Wine & Food was the draw, arriving at Elk Ridge Resort – quite simply – took my breath away! The bluest sky you’ll ever experience, with fresh northern air and acres of natural habitat, provides an immediate sense of relaxation.
Elk Ridge Resort is a 4-season resort offering golf on their 27-hole championship course through the summer and winter activities including dog sledding, booked through SunDog’s Sled Excursions, tobogganing, pond hockey, outdoor curling and snowshoe trails.

Elk Ridge Entrance

Entrance to Elk Ridge Resort in Waskesiu, Saskatchewan

Elk Ridge Resort has a grand entrance to match the spaciousness of the acres of land which surround it. Whatever you prefer in lodging, this resort has it covered.
There’s Lodge Rooms, Cabins, Townhouses and Cottages.
When you walk into Elk Ridge Resort, the main lobby abounds with cozy, rustic appointments.
Elk Ridge Fireplace Lobby betterElk Ridge Animal Terrace

The elevators are quick to deliver me to my one-bedroom Jacuzzi Suite which is spacious, complete with a large outside deck, fireplace in both the living room and bedroom, luxurious living room, efficient work-desk – with ample plug-ins & free Wi-Fi, and a perfectly appointed bath & shower.
Elk Ridge Fireplace RoomElk Ridge CouchElk Ridge Desk
In a word … FANTASTIC!

The 1st event for the Elk Ridge Epicurean Weekend is the Welcome Reception which features Gourmet Sliders made of Elk, Beef, Lamb & Chicken.
There’s also a Mixology Demonstration and Cocktail Construction Course. Fun for all!
Elk Ridge Friday