Calgary, you’re in for a real treat! Foodies in the Park, the pet project of Great Events, will be launching a pop-up dining series this year starting with a thematic dining experience taking you on a journey through the world of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland! They invited bloggers and members of the media out for a first taste of the carefully crafted experience. I squeezed my body into nylons and a black dress for the first time since giving birth two months ago and headed out into the night!
I was very intrigued to be invited to an event centered around a plated four-course dinner with the most whimsical meal options – the vegetarian’s delight or “Garden of Live Flowers”, a red meat focused menu called “the White Rabbit” or my personal choice, the seafood-themed “The Fish Footman”.
I was a little nervous at first to make my way down the dimly lit road into Fish Creek Park to locate Bow Valley Ranche after dark, but as soon as I got out of the car I could tell it was worth the drive. The historic house was illuminated beautifully and I could hear that faint tinkle of warm laughter in the air from people having a terrific time. As I walked in, I was greeted by a welcome cocktail of “Curious Cordial” in a precious little teacup. The floating wildflowers and adorable “Drink Me” label made a great first impression, but the fragrant and flavourful drink won me over all on its own merit – this was like a refreshing sip of summer lemonade and its sweet-tart profile had my mouth watering as I looked for my assigned seat.
The tables were all decorated lavishly with candelabras, teacups, playing cards, old books and clocks. No detail was too small – even the butter was whimsically plated.
Everyone had the same beet salad course – as you can see, the plating was almost too cute to eat. What you can’t see in the photo is a beautiful pool of soft goat cheese underneath the rest of the salad. A classic creamy combo!
I was the only one at our table who ordered the fish, but all my neighbours who’d ordered the White Rabbit with its duck confit course were curiously eyeing up my beautifully plated cured salmon. Matt was on parenting duty while I dined in style, but when he looked at the photos later he remarked that the plating made him think of the Cheshire cat (I saw the hookah-smoking caterpillar, myself!). The cured fish and paper thin ribbons of cucumber with horseradish cream made for an excellent cold dish that would be particularly wonderful on a warm spring evening, but for a cold night I was a little jealous of the warm duck.
My third course was line-caught Icelandic cod with a sweet and zesty red pepper chutney over a warm root vegetable hash. With a glass of white wine, this perfectly cooked fish course was an ideal way to end the savoury portion of the evening.
Last was the dessert – or “Who Stole the Tarts?” – a feature of mini sweets fit for a Mad Hatter’s tea party. At the event, it was a mini meringue tart, a fudgy bite of perhaps chocolate terrine and some brightly flavoured heart-shaped macarons.
This was such a fun event and you can experience it as well between Thursday, April 16 and Sunday, May 17. Before you book, please check out their extensive FAQ to make sure you understand the refund policies and other terms.
Domes seating 4-6 guests will be set out on the lawn for diners to enjoy the “open air” while they work through the menu.
Booking an afternoon tea (Saturdays and Sundays only) is $75 per person, which includes scones, tea sandwiches, canapés, sweets and tea. Other beverages will be available for purchase.
If dinner is more your speed, this is a two step process. A dome can be booked for a fee $195, then you’ll be asked to order one of the three set menus for each of your diners for $98 per person. Wine, cocktails and other beverages will be available for purchase at the event. This is a pricy dinner option, no question, but if you book before February 8, 2020, you can use promo code HUNGRYINCALGARY50 to save 50% off the dome booking fee (not applicable to the $98 per person set menu price).
This would definitely be a beautiful way to enjoy a tight-knit double date or to celebrate a special occasion with a decadent afternoon tea. If you do decide to check it out, please let me know what you think of the experience!