Eat, Vote, Win with the FundeLentil Tour

The FunDeLentil Tour is putting fun on the menu this June.  From Vancouver to Halifax, 24 restaurants across Canada are serving mouth-watering signature lentil dishes as part of a cross-Canada competition from June 1st – 30th.  You can Eat. Vote. Win.

Here in Vancouver we have Fable, Forage, Campagnolo, and Cafe Medina all participating in this fun food contest.  High quality restaurants bringing lentil dishes to you.  Have you tried, or shied away from lentils in the past?  They are a great source of protein, and I found out that Canada is the World’s Larger Lentil Producer, with 95% of Canadian lentils being grown in Saskatchewan.  That is amazing.

Fable, Forage, Campagnolo, and Cafe Medina with their lentil dishes

Fable, Forage, Campagnolo, and Cafe Medina with their lentil dishes (click to enlarge)

Many of you may have tried lentil soup in the past, but you can use it in more than that.  How about a brown lentil taco, or making an Indian dal? And if you are ambitious try one of the dishes from the competing restaurants.  I went on a Media Tour for the FunDeLentil Tour to visit the Vancouver restaurants.  They had for us:

  • Fable (Chef Trevor Bird) – Chorizo and Lentil Ragout
  • Forage (Chef Chris Whittaker) – Lentil and Spring Vegetable “Biryana”, Sprouted Lentils, Wild Greens, Raitha and Pickled Mustard Seed
  • Campagnolo (Chef Nathan Lowey) – Lentil and Foie Gras Croquette
  • Cafe Medina (Chef Jonathan Chovancek) – “Mercimekli”, a take on Turkish Lentil Cassoulet with Roasted Free-range Chicken Thigh and Soft Poached Egg

All 4 very different dishes, and each of the media attending all having their favourite dishes.  All the dishes were very good, but for me Fable and Cafe Medina were just a little bit more in line with what I look for in an interesting dish.

Fable Kitchen‘s Chorizo and Lentil Ragout had many flavours and textures.  The soft poached egg added creaminess.  Earthiness and texture from the lentils, a hint of clove, and the flavour of veal stock in the background.  The chorizo was very subtle in the first few bites, but then it’s flavour grew in subsequent nibbles.  There was also a nice acidic balance from the salad, keeping the dish from tasting and feeling too heavy and bland.  Layers of flavours. Everything worked in harmony in this dish.

A light lager? was served with this dish.  I didn’t catch the name, but the citrus and light bitterness from the hops complemented the dish.

The other dish I really enjoyed was Cafe Medina‘s Mercimeckli Lentil Cassoulet. Of course Cassoulet is originally from Southern France, containing a mixture of pork sausage, goose, duck, pork skin, and white beans.  So substitute brown lentils for white beans, and use chicken for the meat part of the dish, add Moroccan spices, and you have Cafe Medina’s flavourful dish.  Of course, more effort is needed to get the dish elevated to the point that it was served to us.  I really did enjoy the Moroccan spices; not too overpowering.  Lemon. Textures from whole al dente lentils and pureed lentils. There were also tomatoes in this dish that added their umami taste and acidity.

The drink pairing for this dish was a brand new creation that day; a take from a mimosa. It contained orange juice and champagne, and added to it was an Italian digestif and cracked red peppercorn shells.  There may have been a few other ingredients that I missed.  The drink itself was very flavourful, off-dry from the sweetness of the oranges.  If I were to choose a wine for this dish, I may suggest a Rioja from Spain, such as Hacienda Lopez de Haro Crianza Rioja Tempranillo, or an off-dry Riesling from BC, Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery Private Reserve Riesling 2014.

Forage served us the Lentil and Spring Vegetable “Biryana”, their take on an Indian Biryani dish.  This dish is vegetarian, so any vegans wanting to participate in FunDeLentil can have a chance to try one of the chefs’ creations.  The dish had light cumin spice flavour.  Firm brown lentils, and what I liked is they complemented these cooked lentils with green peas and lentil sprouts. Topped with some thinly sliced baby carrots, added colour, crunch, and visual interest to the dish.

This was paired with 3 BC beers: Bomber Brewing Marzen Amber Lager, Tofino Brewing Tuff Session American Pale Ale, and Tin Whistle ‘Killer Bee’ Dark Honey Ale were paired with this dish.  To me, I think the Bomber, was nice and light and complemented the flavours in the dish.

Campagnolo had the Lentil and Foie Gras Croquette for us to try. The croquette has a nice crunchy exterior, followed by a creamy interior.  There was some texture within the croquette coming from the lentil, along with it’s earthy flavour. There were small chunks of foie gras in the croquette to add extra richness.  It was not overpowering and still the lentils were the star of the dish.  I really liked the picked red pepper that accompanied the croquette as it added a bright, sweet flavour to the lentil’s earthiness.

Campagnolo served their dish with a glass of Blasted Church’s Hatfield’s Fuse, a blend of 9 white grape varieties, primarily pinot gris. Before knowing which wine, I guessed the wine was a blend of pinot gris and riesling, so I was partly correct.

The FunDeLentil Tour Contest Details

During the month of June, visit participating restaurants to taste their signature lentil dish. Visit fundelentil.ca to view short videos about each restaurant and to vote for your favourite for a chance to win airfare for two and three nights accommodations in the choice of city (from cities with participating restaurants) with gift cards to each of the participating restaurants in that city.

More Info about the FunDeLentil Tour

Facts on Canadian Lentils

Facts on Canadian Lentils

Here is a copy of the press release about the FunDeLentil Tour in case you would like more information about what is happening across the country. Enjoy.

Saskatoon, SK, June 1, 2015—Canadian Lentils announced today the kickoff of The FunDeLentil Tour, a cross-Canada lentil restaurant competition. The 24 restaurants from
seven cities have created signature dishes using the world’s best lentils grown right here in Canada and have added those dishes to their menus for customers to order
throughout the month of June. Participating restaurants are located in Vancouver, Calgary, Halifax, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, and Saskatoon.

Canadians can dine on the creative dishes and vote online at fundelentil.ca for their favourite lentil dish and be entered for a chance to win a trip to one of seven Canadian cities (contest details are available online).

Well-known Canadian food advocate, Food Day Canada founder and Canadian Lentils campaign ambassador, Anita Stewart, was instrumental in bringing on board the 24
restaurants, which are also Food Day Canada participants committed to using Canadian ingredients.

“Canadians are going to love the signature lentil dishes created by our incredibly talented chefs,” says Stewart. “Just watch the videos online and you’ll see their passion for this
humble ingredient; their creativity is astonishing. The resulting dishes are as varied as our Canadian landscape, which speaks to versatility of lentils. Putting considerable
thought into the dish they hope will win over Canadians, the chefs used lentils to reflect their restaurants’ viewpoint, seasonality, and their personal culinary roots.”

Many Canadians do not know that Canada is one of the world’s largest producers of lentils, planting 3.1 million acres of lentils last year. Types of lentils produced in Canada include commonly known green lentils and split red lentils, and lesser known black or beluga lentils and French Green lentils. The chefs involved at each participating
restaurant were invited to use one or any combination of lentils grown in Canada to create their signature dish.

Andrew Winfield, the executive chef from River Café in Calgary, is one of the 24 participants in The FunDeLentil Tour. His restaurant created Black Beluga Lentil Salad with Edgar Farms Asparagus on Silver Sage 64 Day Dry-aged Beef Carpaccio.

Says Chef Winfield, “Lentils are a representation of Prairie culture and they work in our menu very well. They cross seasons and can be used in summer profiles or in hearty winter meals. We love to use them in so many different ways.”

To view behind-the-scenes videos showing the chefs and their inspiration for their signature lentils dishes and to vote for your favourite, visit fundelentil.ca.

About Canadian Lentils

Canadian Lentils is an Official Mark of Saskatchewan Pulse Growers, a farmer funded organization that works to advance the pulse industry in Saskatchewan, the heart of the lentil-growing region in Canada. For more information about Canadian Lentils and to see more great ways to cook with lentils, visit www.lentils.ca.

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