Thursday, May 3, 2012

Savour Verano

Some of you may know from my tweets that the kind people at Buick (@gmcanada) offered me an opportunity to get behind the wheel of a 2012 Buick Verano for a week last month. And as if that wasn't cool enough, I was also invited to an exclusive #SavourVerano dinner on Tuesday, May 1, where celebrity chef Anthony Sedlak (@anthonysedlak) created a three-course meal inspired by "the vibrant colours, smooth curves and unexpected luxury of the new 2012 Buick Verano".

Obviously the foodie in me was excited for the dinner. But I don't think many of you know that I'm also a huge car fan. When I was younger (and had more time) I attended the Auto Show every year, as well as import car shows, friends' car meets (like the ones held at the infamous woodbine & 16 parking lot LOL), car events at Shannonville, Mosport, Cayuga etc., watch shows like Top Gear and Initial D. I even made a few Tamiya car models! Haha the good ol' days. Anyway, although I've scaled back a lot since then, a car + food event cannot be more perfect for me.

To be honest, I've never been keen on Buicks since they generally appeal to more of an older crowd. But I gotta admit, this Verano in a deep, rich red which I drove for a week was actually quite sexy! Smooth curves and not too big, I think Buick has really come a long way in terms of designing the Verano (FYI the Verano is Buick's first vehicle in the small luxury-compact market). 

On my driveway: the Verano beside my tiny little Honda Civic Si-R (a.k.a "Rice Rocket" to some of my friends). 

My friends can attest to this: I seriously did not want to give the Verano back. Other than the fact that the Verano is automatic instead of manual (a nice break from the norm), driving the Verano was a whole different experience for me. With its plush leather seats and soft ambient lighting, the Verano is such a luxurious and comfortable ride. There is also no doubt in my mind that the Verano is the quietest vehicle I've ever been in (their QuietTuning® technology is amazing... triple-sealed doors, dual-density carpets and acoustic laminated glass). Now that I'm back to my bare bones Civic, I realized how much I miss their BOSE sound system, satellite radio, 7-inch LED colour touchscreen display and heated steering wheel! What a fun experience =)

On the night of the event, my friend Cindy and I were picked up by a designated Buick driver who drove us to The Market Kitchen, where our dinner was held. To guarantee a good time (i.e. to make sure we take full advantage of their open bar) Buick also had rides arranged to take us home. So awesome.

To start, here is a bit about celebrity chef Anthony Sedlak:

Anthony Sedlak discovered his love of food at the age of 13 when he took a shift in a café atop Grouse Mountain ski resort in Vancouver, Canada. Inspired to complete a Culinary Arts program and a four-year apprenticeship, he became a leader in Grouse Mountain’s flagship dining room, The Observatory, by age 19. Anthony eventually went to Europe, working his way up to executive sous-chef at La Trompette, a Michelin Star restaurant in London. In 2006 and at 23, he represented Canada at the Hans Bueschken World Junior Chef Challenge in New Zealand, returning home with silver. The same year, he competed in and won Food Network’s Superstar Chef Challenge. He hosted four seasons of the series The Main, with his cookbook based on the program becoming a national bestseller in just nine months. He has recently launched his newest show, Family Cook Off.

Photo credit: Food Network Canada

We were all greeted with cocktails and hor d'oeuvres:

The Cocktail
-The Verano Martini - Goose, Campari, raspberry, lime, Cointreau

The Hor d'oeuvres
- Pink-rare sterling silver beef strip loin, horseradish cream & fine herb pesto
- Chilled local oysters on shell, pickled cucumber-dill fresca, pineapple, chili & cilantro salsa

A modern, sleek and spacious event space, The Market Kitchen in St. Lawrence Market is quietly tucked up in the west mezzanine of the south market. It is equipped with state-of-the-art appliances from Miele.

Chef Sedlak with Kevin Williams, president and managing director of GM Canada.

Kevin plating the scallops =D

The Starter
Pan-roasted Digby Bay scallop, butternut squash & brown butter purée, maple-bacon crisp, sweet English shelling pea froth.

The Inspiration
Chef Sedlack was inspired by the Verano's vibrant line-up of colours which he represented by using fresh, bright colours of green pea and yellow butternut squash. He showcased the Verano's crisp, modern design by introducing froth (a modern technique) to the scallops dish.

The Main
Braised sweet & sour short rib, parsnip & truffle puree, rapini with toasted garlic, natural jus.

The Inspiration
Chef Sedlak wanted to pay homage to Buick's luxurious brand and history by creating a classic meat and potatoes dish. 

The Sweet
Vanilla bean & mountain honey panna cotta, warm spiced peach compote, lace cookie crisp

The Inspiration
Chef Sedlak's dessert was inspired by the Verano's cutting edge technology and beautiful, trend setting design. 

After the dinner, each guest got a copy of Chef Sedlak's cookbook,"The Main".

Got mine signed =)

Thank you GM Canada, the Buick team, and chef Sedlak for such a fun and unforgettable experience.