A Day at Merchant Cuisine Festival

October 12, 2010Katie

Saturday, I spent much of my day at the first Merchant Cuisine Festival.  

The creative mind of Dianna Marsh brought this event to us for a two day event and it was really interesting.  Merchants filled this hall at the Express Event Center with gourmet offerings of everything from cheese, to pepper jelly to french pastries to Russian candy.

La Baguette Bistro was there with their pastry case full of tempting delectables.

There were local farmer’s market finds like honey and buffalo meat.

There were slices of beautiful cakes to sample.

Even Buy 4 Less from NW Expressway and Portland was there with samples of their cheese…did you know they have some fabulous cheeses and if they don’t carry one you want, they’ll order it?

Epicurean’s Pantry from Edmond was there.

Sand Hill Vineyards were there giving tastings as well.

And oh my gosh, this is the best pepper jelly I believe I’ve ever had.

Suan’s Scotch Bonnet Pepper Jelly.  Suan Grant was there and demonstrated several ways to cook using this stuff, one being poached pears, and her food was absolutely delicious. (It is also simply fabulous on crackers with cream cheese!)

And then the excitement of the chef demonstrations started.  First up on my list was Chef Kurt Fleischfresser from Coach House. 

Probably the highest awarded and decorated chef in Oklahoma, Chef Kurt demonstrated some seasonal cooking in his Alternative Seasonal Dishes class.  I am going to show you one later this week.  This man is simply put…brilliant.

We could watch in the mirror on his demo table but also see close-ups on the large screen from the overhead camera.

Four lucky people (selected by those who caught a cut quarter of a sweet potato he tossed into the crowd), were fortunate enough to sit up front and sample the cuisine he made.

Chef Kurt made some amazing dishes with spaghetti squash and sweet potatoes that these folks got to try.

And then he made an En Papillote dessert (who woulda thought of that?!) of thinly sliced butternut squash, apples, dried fruit, honey and cinnamon sticks.  After it was steamed inside it’s parchment paper wrapper, he opened them and nestled a slice of pound cake within it’s juices. 

When Chef Kurt asked who would like to try it, Melisa, my very dear and agressive friend, ran up and got us one to try.  OH MY GOSH! Delicious!

Melisa, I love you my friend.

I also saw Chef Vince Howard from Bellini’s make a fabulous meal of braised chicken, mashed potatoes and broccoli.

His sauce was delicious and I was intrigued that he makes his chicken sauce with tomatoes to deepen the flavor and color of it.

And oh goodness, Chef Alain Buthion of La Baguette made some fabulous Steak Tartare. 

 One bite and I realized that I must make this and soon.  The thing I loved about his demonstration, was that he showed us how to buy and cut up our own beef tenderloin much cheaper than buying the center cut alone.

I also saw these guys.

After a day filled with chef’s coats and aprons, Matthew Burch from Urban Agrarian and Atiila Balazs from The Earth Cafe and Deli in Norman gave us some laughs and knowledge of cold-canning pickles, beets, okra and other fresh produce.

They even handed out a sterilized hammer and asked people to help them pulvarize some cabbage to release the juices for the canning process.

Of course, men immediately volunteered for this.

I loved my day at Merchant Cuisine.  I hope Dianna wasn’t too exhausted to put this on again next year.  For the entry price of $7, this was a real treat for us. 

Yes that pun was intended.

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