Thursday, November 18, 2010

President's Choice Holidays 2010 - Part II

In keeping with the format of the holiday opening sequence, the item marked November 17th is a container of jumbo cashews. Hand picked, roasted and lightly salted, the cashews are an import from Northeastern Brazil. Just as a point of interest, cashews are highly regarded in Brazil and have been grown there since the Portugese sailors brought them in the 1500's. My guess is they've got it perfected. I'm going to use some of these to make nut bark with.

Last night was the President's Choice Holiday Insider's Report Event. It was held in the cooking school facility of one of the largest Loblaw stores I've seen. I had to take some pictures of the mere size of the store. Taking an energy drink helps you get through the whole thing.

I was looking forward to seeing what's new, thinking about what makes sense and tasting the new things the various product development teams had brought to market this year. Also, I was most intrigued by the letter that came with promo box #1 talking about gift baking as this year's latest trend. This philosophy is totally in line with my thinking. Gifts made from home spell love more than anything someone could give me (unless of course it's a new car). The new products were PC Home Baker's Gift sets that you bake and give your treats in a reusable pan. I like that idea, however, this theme did not come through at the event. The evening really focused on the boxed/packaged/frozen appetizers, meals and desserts. Now I'm more than curious about the pans.

The format of the event was well done - product developers had an opportunity to say a few words about their areas and well coordinated with servers coming through the group to bring samples of the discussion from the product developer. The flow moved as a dinner party in your home would. Let's start with drinks. The choices were 100% Sparkling Fruit Juice - Kiwi Berry, Cranberry Ginger Ale and Pressed Sweet Apple Cider. My favourite was the Cranberry Ginger Ale.

Next we moved along to the appetizers

There were 2 samplings of the puff pastry collection and a sample each of the Vodka Beet Smoked Atlantic Salmon and the Smoked Wild Albacore Tuna. I enjoyed the puff pastry appetizers but wondered about the salmon. The beet and vodka combination gave the salmon a very red colour but not huge on flavour.

More of the Phyllo Pastry Hors D'oevre collection. I don't think I could say there's one I wouldn't serve. The filling choices are vast - from sausage to seafood. They're easy to prepare (warm up for 18 minutes), they look and taste good and you're not fussing to be impressive.

While the product developer and the demo chef talked about their cheese station, we all received a presentation to sample together with a Quince Paste that was outstanding. The paste is well paired particularly with the Camembert and Brie. New (to me) for this year are two toppers that scream out for brie cheese; the Apple Pecan Gourmet Topper and the Mission Fig and Pecan Gourment Topper. (both really delicious)

The transition came at this point where we moved into Entrees. A creamy seafood chowder topped with a mussel(s)in this picture is one of the many ways to use the chowder. The dishes are perfect for a tasting evening. I so need to have these dishes and can see myself serving a seafood dip with one giant shrimp. As the executive chef for the President's Choice Cooking Schools, Chef Tom Fillippou remarked - one doesn't have to give people a whole load of food. Tasting, although it might be a bit of work, has great appeal.

A new line of entrees branded Dine-In Tonight is pretty promising for the person who just really doesn't feel like cooking tonight.

Do you feel like having Beef Bourguignon?

Without a doubt this was my very favourite of everything I sampled. The last time I made Beef Bourguignon, I remember it being quite a process. I almost never say this about packaged food but really, it's better than what I made. Not that I'm the ultimate kitchen diva but nobody would guess this isn't home made.

Souffle for 2 made with Emmental Cheese or Creamy Seafood Chowder (that was used with the mussel dish)

Red Velvet Cheesecake and the Candy Cane Cheesecake. The kids will probably be at the candy cane cheesecake but the red velvet rates #1 in desserts.

Are you noticing the macarons??? Macarons at a supermarket?? These little French delicacies are truly a work of art and not so easy to make for the beginner baker. I have no immediate plans of making these treats - I'll buy them!!! These were served with PC's new Hawaiian coffee. When I think Hawaiian coffee I usually think Kona coffee which is a full bodied coffee guaranteed to keep you awake for 3 days. When I tried the PC coffee, I found it to be far more mellow and more pleasing to my pallet.

Baking is my most relaxing hobby. I love having curds around to use as fillings but usually don't feel like making them. I've also been wanting to create a recipe with passion fruit filling and have found it pretty difficult to find this curd readily available. See, it really doesn't take much to make me happy. I'm already thinking about passion fruit ice cream, danish - lots of danish especially lemon curd danish.

On leaving, we received this beautiful swag bag

and inside, the Hawaiian coffee, jellies, Belgian chocolate and jumbo cashews. Thank you President's Choice!!!

If you've seen yesterday's post, you know about "the rules" for opening the gifts in box #1. Today is the 3rd gift day. This is what I was looking for!!! I'm thrilled AND they're reusable. Remember to tell the recipient of a gift loaf that it's the gift that just keeps on giving. You could even ask for them to gift you back something of their creation and keep the pan going back and forth.

Stay tuned for the next holiday prezzie set to be opened tomorrow. So far I'm excited about the newest product developments and can't wait to see what's coming next.

Besides the success of the tasting event, the learning was not to be discounted. I now have a new found respect for the people who are product developers and work in the test kitchens to bring new and inovative foods to market.



PG said...

I like the pan idea. Wonder how many uses you could get out of one. Also like the curd -- assuming it doesn't taste processed. Not so sure about the salmon with beets and feel like macarons should be made by hand by a small bakery...not that I'd turn one down if offered.

Gracie said...

Great looking dish! Make me hungry!

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

So glad you were able to enjoy this event Giz. Maybe next year the company will see the benefit of flying bloggers from across the country in:D Just half kidding:D I opened my gift for today and look forward to what's to come.