Love is a many splendoured vegetarian birthday feast that diverts our attention

A nine-course vegetarian feast. A birthday party for the wonderful Jillian Elizabeth. Chef Doreen Prei went above and beyond for this multi-faceted extravaganza for a dozen or so. Splendid dinner at Zinc Restaurant.

A nine-course vegetarian feast. A birthday party for the wonderful Jillian Elizabeth. Chef Doreen Prei went above and beyond for this multi-faceted extravaganza for a dozen or so. Splendid dinner at Zinc Restaurant. (With a brief introductory political detour.)
The Birthday

A quick detour – our winter of discontent

Now is the winter of our disco tent! #DontHateGyrate
@EngDiscoLovers a pro-disco pro-equality group

I need a cheap joke to introduce this quick depressing meditation on political affairs. Thus the “Now is the winter of our disco tent.”


I have been avoiding my blog for some time in the interest of muting the local political catastrophe known as Alberta’s corrupt Jason Kenney / UCP. Their anti-intellectual, limited-image-repertoire, ultra-white, ultra-right, theocratic, heteronormative, misogynist, homophobic, ableist, corporatist, classist ways (the list goes on…) have been gnawing at my brain with the claws of a putrid petrified prehistoric predator. Kenney’s policies are a terrifying promise of a dystopian Alberta. Not to mention how they cost Albertans in air, water, land, and the everyday increase in school bus fees, insurance fees, etc. Etc.

Too many Albertans are leaving the province. Family doctors will flee the new UCP draconian policies. But that is of a piece with firing 750 nurses. High cost U.S. private healthcare is Jason Kenney’s model. Downgrading our healthcare to the point where private healthcare supported by the rich will have a prominent place in our province is the goal. Education cuts and curriculum changes are designed to inflate the ego of the undereducated and the ideological extremes of woman-hating and homophobic Christians. (Why mince words?)

Young Tech company developers and young people are leaving having been devastated by cuts in programmes. The promise of diversifying our economy has been dashed with the cancellation of the alternate energy programmes and the cancellation of the giant job-increasing lab among other programmes indicated by the NDP.

What will it take for the 40% of Jason Kenney supporters to renounce their Dear Leader?

News Flash: Jason Kenney announced today Albertan families must sacrifice their first-born. Toss the kiddies into a boiling pot of toxic provincial soup. UCP Forever!


In other news, baby-face Scheer resigned as leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. This man was distinguished in the end by his failings. A homophobe without a political leadership home, he had been denounced for lying about his education (was it University of Regina or Ottawa?), his only non-political career (the damning pathos of inflating his real estate training), and his secret dual American Canadian citizenship (oops). Not to mention the funds he purloined from party funds to pay for four of his five children’s private Catholic schooling. Here’s hoping his replacement continues the unpopular social conservatism that does not resonate with many Canadians.


Elsewhere: yesterday Trump was thankfully impeached by Congress though it is likely he will be supported by the GOP-dominated Senate and not kicked out of the White House. He may even be re-elected.


And meanwhile in the United Kingdom the very same day: the Boris Johnson Tories trounced the Jeremy Corbyn Labour – an electoral routing that tragically means Brexit is a fait accomplis. Not to mention the hideous policies that will emerge unimpeded over the next parliamentary sitting.

(A fleeting but timely cure for what ails us)

One tonic for bad political news here in Alberta and elsewhere is to share a meal. And when one of your friends is a stunning chef, you are in for a seemingly never-ending dinner treat. Thus this documentation of a sensorium – tasty culinary brilliance in the good company of new friends and old.

Hugo has the right idea below: Eat cake! And then wo(man) the barricades!

The feast unfolds in nine chapters…

#1 Freshly baked focaccia…

You could dip your bread into virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Or (my preference), please slather on this spread: whipped ricotta with olive oil, maldon salt, lemon zest, and nutmeg. (The focaccia is by Zinc’s Marlin who bakes all of their delicious bread)

#2 Exquisite endive salad

Endive salad with shaved fennel and pears, light orange and lemon vinaigrette. Topped with gruyere crisps.

#3 Arancini di riso

Wild mushroom and mascarpone arancini with spicy tomato jam.

#4 Puff pastry dreams

Puff pastry with caramelized onions and goats cheese and thyme.

#5 Exotic sunchokes

Truffled and roasted sunchokes with a cheesy cream reduction.

I have rarely if ever before eaten sunchokes (or Jerusalem artichokes) that Doreen says grow very well in Alberta. An underground tuber, this vegetable tastes like an artichoke / potato or, to some, a water chestnut. Fabulous dish prepared with such finesse.

#6 Ravioli

Hand-made ravioli filled with squash potato and goat’s cheese, brown butter, sage and pine nuts. Served with caramelized squash.

#7 Creamy polenta

Creamy polenta cooked in a parsnip cream reduction with chives, baby king oyster and shiitake mushrooms. And arugula.

#8 Vivid greens

Rappini with chili and garlic

#9 A fiery passion cake

Double layered almond and walnut cake. White chocolate and rose water ganache. Toasted almonds. Haskap berries and it’s reduction. Festooned with strawberries, blackberries, and Marchin’s baked meringues.

By the end of this feast, my camera eye was clouded with the aftereffects of a remarkable feast. But here is the birthday girl with her darlings and the remains of the day – the bricolage of berries and cake.


“Give me too much!”

Howard Alk (1973)

…within reason.

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