When last we left our saga, your battle weary heroine had just finished eating what she believed to be raw lamb during a luncheon with Food Network host and author Anna Olson and, although the lunch was incredible, she and her other foodie friends still had room left over for more dining...
During lunch the conversation turned to dinner because that's what foodies do. And being that we were in Toronto, we were going to take full advantage of the dining scene - which was serendipitous considering we were lunching with Anna Olson who very graciously called one of her favourite restaurants: Canoe, and got us reservations.
In the meantime, we planned a get together for a little pre-dinner cocktail party in side dish finalist Candice Megan's room, and I have to tell you, she pulled out all the stops with trays of beautiful
cheeses, olives, charcuterie, artisan breads, and lovely wine. We noshed, nibbled, laughed, talked, and continued to bond - finalists turned friends - sharing an experience few people could ever understand but those who were involved in The Real Women of Philadelphia Canada season 1.
And truly, we were ALL there that evening. The friendships and camaraderie we created generated enough energy to bring real meaning to the phrase "You were with me in spirit."
Perhaps that, in the end, is what contributed to the community aspect of The Real Women of Philadelphia eventually eroding because I don't think the powers that be ever fully understood the importance of the relationships we built, or how imperative it was (and is) that people so invested in something feel a sense of appreciation for their contributions - but we're not there yet.
For now, it was all about the evening.
After cocktails we headed out in cabs to the TD Tower in downtown Toronto and made our way to the top floor to Canoe, where - from the moment we walked through the doors, we were given the celebrity treatment.
The restaurant features panoramic views of the city and was filled to capacity - on a Tuesday night, no less - with an assortment of Toronto's finest, which to a small town girl like me was quite the revelation because the only restaurant that might have a chance of being filled on a Tuesday where I come from is Montana's Grill on All You Can Eat Rib Night.
We were given the head table right in front of the kitchen which was surrounded by glass walls so that the guests could see all the action and before we even had a chance to open our menus, we were greeted by Chef de Cuisine John Horne and offered a complimentary amuse bouche and glass of Proseco.
Being that I am a person who gets excited by never ending diet coke refills at Ricky's, this kind of treatment was not only something I could get very used to, tiny electrons of an invisible something that can only be described as ambition, began to slowly ignite sparklers in my heart and I knew, without a doubt, where my next roads in life would have to take me.
In the meantime, our waiter came around with the menus and I ordered what turned out to be the best thing I have ever (and I do mean ever) eaten!
Pan Seared Quebec Foie Gras, Preserved Wild Berries, Ontario Peanuts and Toasted Brioche
This is the foie, and I can honestly tell you, despite the fact that I hate any kind of liver in all its possible incarnations I have just made a liar of myself because I loved this.
But the best was still yet to come because we were given the honour of a kitchen tour from John Horne and front row seats to see how the kinds of chefs and kitchens most of us only ever get to see on TV make culinary magic up close and personal.
It also wasn't a hardship to see Toronto's finest watch us get the royal treatment - no doubt wondering who we were and how a group of women so obviously not from the T Dot might warrant this kind of attention!
Stay tuned for next week's installment featuring the afternoon before the final awards dinner.
Until then, how about a trip down memory lane with last year's blooper reel?
I hope you enjoy!
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