By Meighan Makarchuk, Chef Liaison, Edible Canada
Making our way across the top of Canada we find ourselves now in Yellowknife. At this latitude, 400 km south of the Arctic Circle, there is a very wide range of time between day and night over the course of the year. Now in June so close to the summer solstice they have twenty hours of daylight and four hours of dusky light – it’s never truly dark out!
Situated on the North shore of Great Slave Lake, the deepest lake in North America, Yellowknife has a very unique subarctic climate. Due to the rain shadow effect of the mountains to the West they average less than 300 mm of precipitation annually, and because of the city’s proximity to Great Slave Lake the frost-free growing season averages around 100 days. Foraging season is in full swing and there’s edible bounty from the boreal forest everywhere you look.
Foraging For Dinner
Our chefs are in their element, all four are avid fishers and foragers. Yesterday we boated out to a cabin in a remote area about an hour outside Yellowknife to prepare a foraged dinner for 16 of our guests who booked in on this optional evening excursion. We collaborated with a Mike Kalnay, a local forager and owner of this cabin. Once we arrived the chefs set out to catch fish and forage for finishing touches of juniper, wild rose petals, spruce tips, and Labrador tea. Casting off the dock they caught Northern Pike which they stuffed with fresh juniper and butter then slow smoked over an open fire. Our guests arrived by float plane for their meal which they enjoyed inside the cabin against the backdrop of the forest and lake from which their meal came from. Chilled fiddlehead soup with wild chive, pan-fried whitefish with spruce tip gremolata, wild rice with wild lowbush cranberries, reindeer with blueberries and mustard greens, venison with wild garlic roasted in duck fat, wood fire grilled asparagus, birch panna cotta with rhubarb compote and juniper shortbread – that’s what you get when you take four of the top chefs in Canada into the wild!
Our Second Signature Dinner
After dinner with foraged greens in tow we headed back to Yellowknife to prepare for the next day ahead, cooking up the second in our signature dinner series. Working once again with locally fished, foraged and farmed foods our chefs collaborated with Chef Robin Wasicuna of Twin Pine Diner to serve up a six course dinner. Chef Robin opened his diner in the summer of 2015, offering classic diner fare with an updated perspective, using as much local, northern product as possible.
Inspired by their fishing and foraging trip the day before, the chefs spent the day preparing an incredible gourmet dinner paired with Haywire wines. Chef Ned created a dish of smoked inconnu (whitefish) with bannock and wild blueberry sauce, Chef Jeremy cooked roasted lake trout with leek and wild greens, Chef Stéphane sous vide reindeer with smoked parsnip puree, wild onion caramel and spruce tip butter, Chef Wayne roasted duck with, duck sausage, morels and field pea miso finished with powdered wild cranberries, Chef Robin served seared elk with wild onion gremolata.
Our mixologist Grant spent the day immersed in the boreal forest gathering ingredients for his cocktail. For this signature dinner he crafted a wild berry cobbler cocktail using wild cranberries, crowberries, Pike Creek whisky, sherry, lemon, garnished with wild rose petals, spruce tips and other botanicals.
After a whirlwind 48 hours in Yellowknife, we are off first thing tomorrow morning for Nunavut!