When you are invited to spend the night with Chef Rene Rodriguez, from Navarra Restaurant, for a Spanish Tapas Feast, you can't refuse the invitation. His delicious creations were prepared with canola oil. I could not wait to attend the event, hosted by the Canola Eat Well and made sure I only had a light lunch during the day. The evening could not be a success without Branding and Buzzing, who greeted us warmly when we arrived.
Our evening started by a tour of the Canadian Agriculture and Food Museum preservation exhibit. Since I was raised on a farm it was nice to see that we had similar ways to preserve our food that last all winter. The tour guide explained the basics of canning and fermentation as well as food safety. I wish I had a pantry full of Mason jars like this:
After the tour we had a demonstration to show us how much oil can be extracted from the canola seeds. Then it was our turn to extract the oil by taking part of a 'Canola Crush' activity. It was easy, all we had to do was to place the canola seeds on a strip of tape and then we crushed them with a roller. I was amaze to see the results.
During the evening we learned a lot about Canola oil and its benefits. I like the fact that it has a neutral flavour which is great for me because I do a lot of baking. It's a good source of omega-6 and omega-3 fats, which help protect against heart disease and stroke. Since it has a high smoking point (as high as 468F), it's perfect for all the sautéing I do. A big plus in my book! And I especially appreciate that it's grown by more than 52,000 Canadian farmers.
When I attend events I always remember if the food was good or not. In this case it was not only delicious, it was hitting all of the right notes. When the doors opened to the room where we had the tapas, we saw a long, very well decorated table and in the background talented musicians to entertain us all night. I was fortunate to sit across the table from Chef Rodriguez and listened to how he came to Canada to study at Le Cordon Bleu school in Ottawa. The rest is history.
I could not decide which on the following tapas I like best, they all tasted so good:
Chorizo, cooked in Cider
Serrano Ham with Dates / Manchego with Quince
Catalan Tomato bread with anchovies / Patatas Bravas
(Photography by Nick Ghattas courtesy of Eat Well Canola Oil)
After eating a big plate of tapas we listened to Tanya, from a third-generation farm in Alberta, who runs a 4000-acre farm with her husband. I know how hard they work on their farm because we did also and it was seven days a week. Their crop this year will yield approximately 929,000 1L bottles of canola oil. That's a lot! They also harvest barley which will yield grain to produce an estimate of 15 million bottles of beer. She also mentioned that they grow wheat on the farm which will yield flour to an estimate of 3 millions loaves of bread. You can feed a lot of people with that.
After a lovely evening in good company, I am inspired to develop new recipes using Canola oil because it's local, healthy, versatile! In the meantime visit Canola Eat Well for more information about canola oil and recipes.
Disclaimer: La Cuisine d'Hélène was sponsored by Branding and Buzzing for participating in the Eat Well Culinary Workshop. However, the experiences and opinions are our own.