What was Ottawa’s elite doing on Saturday night? It depends on where you were. In the heart of downtown or in the outskirts of the city.
The mister decided to volunteer at the Diana Krall Gala being held at the NAC this past Saturday. A strong team of foodies with kitchen know-how, augmented Michael Blackie’s talented staff in an effort to feed 700 at the post-concert dinner. This doesn’t even speak to the many canapés that were prepared to serve the 2200 concert-goers before the music started. I heard that a reception/concert/dinner ticket went for as much as $1000. Now that is fundraising! And some would think that all the glam of black tie, lovely gowns and the treasure chest of shiny baubles and bling would suggest that this is what THE elite of Ottawa were doing on Saturday night.
I, on the other hand, was some 30 kilometers away in the more south-west part of Ottawa attending a totally different kind of fundraiser. This was the annual Fall turkey supper put on by Fallowfield United Church for $16 a plate. That area of Ottawa still has a rural profile but as Bells Corners and Kanata creeps south, the farmland is being turned into densified housing. If a criteria of elite is money then I was sitting in the thick of them. There were no black ties, fancy gowns or even shiny baubles and bling. For this crowd, going out to a fundraiser was all about comfort, relaxing music and socializing with the neighbours.
As for the food, the Gala gang dined on a three-course meal of Michael Blackie’s best: starter of Red Balinese stained “yellow tail” tuna flank, pickled celery and watermelon/long bean/chickpea/micro green/frisée salad, with gingered yuzu balm. Then a main course of cherry wood smoked rib eye of elk with sunflower and black sesame crackling and Alaskan king crab with brown butter-tobiko hollandaise. The dessert was a trio: dark and stormy baba, crushed meringue coupe-jackfruit tingle, and dark chocolate marshmallow disguise.
And in the wee church basement that can seat 90 at a time,we had a yummy feast of such home-cooked delights as turkey, stuffing, potatoes, coleslaw, gravy. The family style table service meant that we could also add on the steamed peas and carrots and cranberry sauce. The fresh, fresh buns came from a local bakery. I can’t say enough about the wide selection of homemade pies served up with coffee or tea. It was all you can eat for those that find a standard dinner plate a bit on the small side. There were no canapés or wine bottles slinging. We tippled on either apple or tomato juice. If that wasn’t enough, we could pick up a fresh local orchard apple on the way out. Just to show how solid their reputation is for fine food, the church tends to get close to 500 faithful clients streaming through their doors over the 3 1/2 hours of dinner service.
Maybe the telltale sign that my country friends at Fallowfield were THE elite crowd to be seen with on Saturday night, was revealed when mayoral candidate, Larry O’Brien chose the turkey supper over the NAC Gala for his first campaign meet and greet of the evening!