Over 90 restaurants, wineries and breweries were in fine form on Tuesday, having spent hours, days, and even weeks preparing their finest gourmet samples to present to the public. And present they did! Vendors were seen impressing guests with more than just their gastro delights - points for presentation were awarded (by me) to those who went that extra mile, including Lago's gigantic ice cubes dispensing Mojitos, the wondrous towers of mini gourmet cupcakes care of Isobel's, and the dozens of vendors who took special care to don their own cultural touches to each booth.
And of course - there were certainly points awarded in the food category. Petit Bill's Bistro introduced me to the dangerously delicious concept of lobster poutine (where have you been all my life!), while Epicuria stole my heart with their succulent samples of pulled pork on bite-sized potato latke crisps. And those are just two examples of dozens upon dozens of knee-weakening samples, offered by spots like Fresco Bistro, The Works, Culinary Conspiracy, and Scone Witch - to name but a fraction.
On the beverage side of things, guests were surrounded by some of the finest wineries and breweries in the Region. Palettes were wet by samples from Beau's Brewery, Trumpour's Mill, Yellow Tail, Mill Street Organic - which again are but a fraction of what was available.
As an event sponsor and employer of one of Bon Appetit's board directors, Carolyn Eaves, BSL understands fairly intimately the scope of work required to pull off such a high caliber event. But to witness everything come together so perfectly - from the hardworking volunteers, to the efficient setup and waste disposal, to the enthusiastic turnout of so many vendors and guests - it was a real heart warmer to know that such a hugely successful event was all in support of those in need (with all proceeds given to over 20 local charities in the Ottawa Region).
And one final note - I couldn't help but notice that my more seasoned peers were armed with strategic plans of attack, to maximize their sampling opportunities (highlighted maps of the Pavillion, predetermined priorities for their favourite foods, etc.). Now that I am officially in the know, I have to ask: is it too early to start planning my own strategy for 2011?
Thanks to everyone who made it a night to remember!