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Feasting at the Mid Winter Bivver

Newfoundland and Labradorians are known for their heaping food servings and boy did we eat this past weekend when the Newfoundland and Labrador James Beard Culinary Team descended on Grand Falls-Windsor for the first-ever Mid-Winter Bivver, a festival focused on snowmobiling and high-end culinary.

The six member culinary team set the bar for the weekend’s meals when they laid out a tremendous spread at the opening ceremonies in Botwood. Steaming salt cod croquettes with chipotle mayonnaise, mini turkey sliders which resembled pulled pork burgers, decadent bacon wrapped scallops with dill aioli, soul-warming moose stew, stringy farmer’s dairy cheese fondue, and a station where Executive Chef Roary Macpherson carved a roast of beef and topped it high on dollar rolls topped with assorted mustards. Thank goodness we got to work it all off as we walked across the parking lot between the flying boat museum and the antique snowmobile exhibit at the Botwood Heritage Park!

Saturday morning started bright and early with a breakfast for champions followed by a 154 km trail ride in and around Hodges Hills, just west of Grand Falls-Windsor. While the scenery was beautiful and the weather better than anyone could have ordered, it was the lunch stop at Rocky Brook Camps that had everyone owing and awing.

As snowmobilers pulled up to the rest shack along the trail, members of the culinary team were assembled with piping hot dishes that included barbequed moose burgers on brioche buns with onion and Mount Scio savory chutney, Newfoundland hasenpfeffer (rabbit) with spatzle, caribou lollipops with partridgeberry demi, hot chocolate cake with Newfoundland Screech sauce, and banana and chocolate bread pudding. The food was so delicious some people even packed an extra burger in their pocket which they proudly photographed high atop Hodges Hills later that day!

But it was the five course meal and wine pairing Saturday night that set this event apart from any other winter festival. As soon as the first course that consisted of Amuse Bouche – Blueberry cured Bay D’Espoir trout on greens hit the table until the entree of your choice of honey and cumin spiced breast of duck or herb crusted sirloin steak was served, everyone was talking about the food. Just recollecting the menu for purposes of writing this blog has my taste buds salivating!

All-in-all, it was a fantastic weekend filled with raving food and festivities, a few complaints from people who had eaten way too much, and all-hands wondering what the James Beard Culinary Team will be serving up next year.