Andean Flavours 2014, an event was organized for a group of growers & farmers and hosted by EcoCanopy Andino , and the Trade office of Peru And Ecuador based in Toronto, was held at The King Edward Hotel on May 26, from 5pm to 9pm.
It was a nice choice of venue; even the conference rooms there have an elegance to them that enhances good food, and the staff are silently excellent. Unfortunately, I arrived a bit late for the event and so missed the presentations, which were all in the first hour, but it was still a pleasant time being at the event, which was nicely thought out on a culinary level. A good thing, since its function was to showcase wonderful food from the Andean region…and it worked, since over 150 people attended this year’s event.
Fortunately for me, there was still a great deal of evidence of this thoughtful approach remaining and I was able to enjoy much of what had been presented.
There were several racks ofMaca-herb crusted lamb chops, with artichoke salsa, remaining, perfectly cooked, tender and succulent, as it should be. These were prepared and presented byChef Dennis of Hunter’s Landingand offered with a drizzle of Don Joaquin pepper sauce. The lamb paired well with the Quinoa and summer vegetables salad with Peruvian hot peppers vinagrette, and might have paired well also with the Quinoa noodles with Avocado Oil & tomato-palmito-artichoke salsa still being served, but I found that a bit too al dente for my taste. Also still available was an excellent Halibut ceviche with sacha inchi nuts, which was filled with chunks of delicious Halibut and had a nice fresh flavour.
I missed the Merken smoked chili pepper, spiked shrimp, exotic fruit drizzle, but am already a dedicated user of the Merken spice mix, which I regularly use to make a quick “chipotle-esque” mayo, as well as roasted chicken. I likewise missed the Hearts of Palm dip, living sprouts, so can’t comment on that, but am willing to believe based on the evidence, that I missed two excellent dishes.
The room was lined with vendors presenting their products, everything from the always wonderful Pacari chocolate to Olave oils, with a lovely and pungent single source pure olive oil that was delicious on its own and would be lovely as part of a garlic and Merken shrimp dish…this booth also had an excellent Avocado oil and the vendor was extremely knowledgeable about his product. Casillero del Diablo was sampling several nice wines and featuring their new and refreshing Rosé.
An enjoyable event made more memorable by the chance sighting of Bishop Tutu in the hotel lobby, he was there for another event, but graciously agreed to a photograph. My life is complete.
I love chai, but am not a fan of commercial blends, preferring to make my own. This recipe is my personal blend.
Make sure to always buy the freshest spices you can get. They do last quite a while at some level, but you’ll notice the difference as soon as you get something fresh and new. I had this brought home to me last year at SIAL Canada where I tasted spices that were directly off of plantations. The difference between these and my ‘pretty fresh’ spices was dramatic.
Also, be sure that you are using genuine cinnamon, which has many feathery layers curling around each other like a crinoline, where cassia, which can legally be sold as cinnamon, but isn’t really the same thing, has only the single thick layer. There are huge flavour differences, and cassia does not have the health benefits of true cinnamon. I enjoy having the vanilla in the cup as well, but it’s an expensive indulgence and the tea is still good without it. My standard tea for this is orange pekoe, but Earl Grey blends an also be a nice addition.
These instructions in this recipe are for making a single pot of chai, but since the biggest amount of bother with making the tea is getting all the ingredients assembled, I make enough for 20 pots of tea at a time and keep it all in individual snack bags. If you keep pinch pots or small fruit dishes, those are great to use as receptacles for the spices both for containing the ingredients and for preparing the mixtures before putting them into the bags.