I am going to talk about football for a second here, so bear with me.
We've all seen those movies with the short, slightly overweight kid sitting ignored on the team bench. He glances hopefully toward the coach all season, just waiting to be put into the game. I can kind of relate to that kid. Partly because he's short and a little round, but mostly because there seems to be an ocean that divides him from the bench and the excitement on the field.
Being a food blogger on Vancouver Island is a privilege. I am surrounded by breathtaking beauty and a bounty of people and food that inspires me to be my best in the kitchen. But there is an ocean, a quite literal one, that divides me from the big game of food blogging when it comes to social and promotional events, which sometimes feature celebrity chefs, hands-on cooking workshops and tastings.
So, when the stars aligned and I was able to RSVP yes for an event in Vancouver about Catelli's new Healthy Harvest Ancient Grains pasta with the fabulous Chef Lynn Crawford, who we all know from the shows Chopped Canada, Top Chef Masters, Top Chef Canada, Pitchin' In, Iron Chef America, and Restaurant Makeover, I was pretty thrilled to be there. The coach had put me in, so to speak, and I was going to play my heart out. And I did. Or, rather, I danced my heart out. More on that in a moment.
Of course getting to Vancouver means getting off the island. I was completely pumped after leaving the kids with their grandparents, and I cranked the Alanis Morrissette in the car as I headed for the ferry. The rain was falling, but I didn't care. The ride over was as west coast Canadian as you can get.
Before the event with Chef Lynn, I met up at Grain Tasting Bar with Ethan and Melissa of Food Bloggers of Canada for drinks, nibbles and a little catch-up. These two work tirelessly to connect Canadian food bloggers with brands and opportunities that make our blogs better. Thanks to them, I feel part of a greater community and I have gained some genuine friendships with other food bloggers throughout our vast country.
We talked about blogging, we talked about my upcoming book, and I also learned that if these two could hang out with anyone in the kitchen, anyone at all, they would both choose to cook with their grandmothers. Melissa would make pierogies and Ethan would make gefilte fish. See? Nice people.
I was feeling pretty good after a couple drinks with these two and raced off to the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts (PICA) for the Catelli event. There was no one there I knew, but I recognized the smiling face of Marc Smith of 30 Day Adventures pretty quickly from his fun online interview with Chef Lynn. Watch it here, you'll laugh your buns off at Marc being, as he calls it, a total fan girl.
Marc sat next to me and on my right was freelancer Sandra Thomas, and the three of us had a hoot tasting dishes and generally enjoying ourselves while Chef Lynn entertained the room.
I was so pumped once Chef Lynn's demo started that I was clapping at everything. Even when it probably didn't make sense to. Oh well, I was having fun. My own fan girl attitude was picked up on and suddenly I was standing up at the front of the audience making basil pesto while Chef Lynn waved her smart phone around next to me playing Meghan Trainor's All About That Base and shouting, "Dance, Amy, dance! All about that basil, 'bout that basil, 'bout that basil!" Oh I worked it, dancing like a crazy person while furiously grating Parmesan and pouring olive oil all down the sides of the food processor. Kind of like at home, really.
Then it was into the kitchen to make one of Chef Lynn's recipes using the Catelli Healthy Harvest Ancient Grains pasta, which is made with Canadian whole wheat and 5 wholesome ancient grains - quinoa, teff, amaranth, millet and sorghum. It's so much nicer than whole wheat pasta, which I find a little tough and cardboardy. The Ancient Grains is tender and silky, very close to the texture of traditional wheat pasta.
This was an opportunity to connect with some of the other lovely food writers in the room, such as Karen, Jake, and Crystal. We had fun, shared tools and ingredients and enjoyed the helpful hospitality of the PICA students as we prepared a dish to take home.
And just look at the gorgeousness we were making in the kitchen. Chef Lynn's Chilled Noodle Salad with Ginger Wasabi Dressing is so beautiful, so balanced in flavours and textures, and so healthy, there's nothing not to love about it. I could eat this for days. In fact, I plan on making this for the next potluck I go to. Quick, someone invite me over!
Check back soon because I will be sharing Chef Lynn's recipe here and giving you a chance to win a year-supply of Catelli Healthy Harvest Ancient Grains pasta. No, I am not kidding. Enough pasta for a year! That is a lot of pasta, but once you get your hands on this recipe you will be making it on the regular. So, really, you're gonna need the pasta.
I had my copy of At Home with Lynn Crawford tucked inside my purse (inside info: we actually have the same publishing team at Penguin Canada), which she graciously signed for me. It was a fun night with fun people, and good noodle salad.
Remember to check back soon for the giveaway of a year-supply of Catelli Healthy Harvest Ancient Grains pasta!