Sometimes, we forget how lucky we are. Consider all the consumer goods we take for granted, the delicious food we eat and our health. Therefore, I try to keep grounded by volunteering at the food bank and soup kitchens. Hey, I'm no saint nor am I trying to be one. I'm just a regular guy wanting to make a difference every now and then. So when I got an invite to the Blues & Bites Gala for the Autism Support Network, they didn't have to ask twice. I personally feel that there isn't enough funding offered by the Government for families affected by autism. The earlier the intervention, the greater benefit for the individual.
Now, this is where the fundraiser (among other things) helps families throughout BC. Viv and I attended the event which was held at Semiahmoo Secondary. In addition to a silent auction, there was beer and wine prizes as well as a 50/50 draw. Of course, there was also the food served at tasting stations (which I was there to eat!) and a bar where 2 drinks were included for each person. Everything was overseen by Chef Peter Bucher and his culinary team where they served individual items at tasting stations. Entertainment for the night was provided by Harpdog Brown and the Travelin’ Blues Show. Catherine Urquhart served as the emcee.
Now onto the food! We decided to start with the Charcuterie which included a selection of cheeses and meats (salami, capicollo, prosciutto, sopressata and coppa). It wasn't all meat though as there was a selection of Veggie Crudite with artichoke and asiago sour cream dip. Next door, we were treated to both a Cold Smoked Salmon with capers and a Swedish Lox with dill and a honey mustard glaze. Although salty, the lox was nicely balanced by the sweet sauce. On the side, there was also an array of grilled marinated vegetables and olives.
Interestingly, a surprise hit was the BBQ Pork Phyllo Pastries. It was tasty, but not in a sweet way, but a meaty manner. Although the Dungeness Crab Cakes looked a bit loose, it turned out to be spot on in terms of texture. The ample crab was fluffy and sweet while the crumb coating was lightly crispy (yet crumbly). Both the Pan Seared Black Tiger Prawns and the Pan Seared Atlantic Sea Scallops were really delicious and texturally appealing. The sweetness of the seafood came through as well as the caramelization in butter. Although sliced a bit oddly, the Fraser Valley Duck was tender while glazed in a complimentary sauce consisting of soy, sesame, star anise and hoisin.
Continuing on with the hot eats, we headed over to the carving station that featured Canadian AAA Striploin of Beef with pan juices, horseradish sauce or Bearnaise served on a split bun. This was fantastic where the meat was medium-rare and practically melted in my mouth. The sauce was meaty and the buttery Bearnaise added some body. Next door, we found the Rack of Lamb with Dijon mustard, garlic and herb glaze. Although the meat was fairly rare, it was still tender. There was no absence of flavour either. We found the freshly made Pork Gyoza to be rather dense, but ultimately meaty featuring a thin dumpling skin. It could've used more sear though. The lone pasta dish was the Cheese Tortellini with cream, basil pesto and parm. It was a vegetarian dish and it was more or less pretty standard with al dente pasta.
Finally we got to the desserts where we got a little of everything including fresh Fruit Skewers, Tiramisu, Mocca and Kahlua Eclairs and a Kirsch-infused Russian Charlotte. Not much to comment on the fruit other than it being sweet and ripe. The tiramisu was light and airy with mild flavours. As for the eclair, the choux pastry was on point being airy and light. while the filling was sweet and creamy. Lastly, I got a slice from the heart-shaped Charlotte and it was nicely balanced where the kirsch was not overwhelming. Overall, the food was surprisingly well-prepared and tasty despite the absence of restaurants participating. This is a direct reflection in Chef Bucher's leadership and guidance. Food aside, the whole event raises the needed funds and brings awareness to the Autism Support Network. I was honoured to be a part of it.