It’s not summer in B.C. without the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE), and it’s not the PNE without… delicious food! Aside from the classic food vendors that make a comeback every summer, this year’s food line up at the PNE also featured extreme eats from cricket burgers, crispy chicken feet, ice cream waffle tacos, and many more. Unfortunately, I didn’t come here for that 😛 Something also new to the PNE was their Beer-unch Long Table Craft Beer Tasting Meal at the Italian Gardens. The event was held every Sunday morning during the fair featuring a 4 course brunch meal paired with BC’s finest craft brews. Ticket prices were $49 each and included the following:
- A Fair Gate Pass
- Reserved seating at one of three long tables
- Four Course Brunch
- Four Beer Sample
Bob and Barb invited me to tag along and of course I asked the boyfriend to tag along as well because well… you can’t really go anywhere when you’re in crutches (but that’s another story I’ll save for another time)! Luckily, the fair offers wheelchair rentals for $15 a day so I was able to ditch the crutches and enjoy getting pushed around for half the day. The Italian Gardens is located south of the main entrance of the main gate at the corner of Renfrew and East Hastings, but it’s not exactly the most wheelchair accessible. We still managed to make it on time for brunch!
Our table set-up
While we were waiting for everyone else to arrive, complimentary mini pastries were served featuring an assortment of mini croissants, danishes, and strudels . The pastries were okay, I later found out through Bob that they were actually pre-bought pastries from Walmart valued at $5 for a 12-pack.
By 12 P.M. food was promptly served! The food was being prepped at a nearby tent which indicated that everything served specifically for the event were done in advance.
Smoked Salmon Toast with pea shoots over pumpernickel bread with dill cream cheese, topped with a lightly fried egg. Anything with smoked salmon and cream cheese is always a winner in my books. However, I wasn’t a huge fan of the pumpernickel bread incorporated. While the taste of the bread was very mild, the texture of the pumpernickle was much coarser and crumbly than other forms of grains I’m used to due to the use of whole rye flour.
English Bay Pale Ale
Let’s just put it out there that I’m not much of a beer connoisseur 😛 This was a malt forward beer with notes of pumpernickle leaving a malty flavour pairing. The pairing was pretty spot on as I could definitely taste the marriage between the two every bite and sip.
Watermelon Gazpacho with Poblano Sour Cream
Never had anything like this before when it comes to soups! Gazpoacho is definited as a soup made of raw vegetables served cold. The texture of the soup resembled more of a watermelon smoothie which kind of threw me off as I expected the consistency to be smoother, but overall I thought it was pretty fun to venture out of my comfort zone and try something new. Out of the four of us, Bob enjoyed it most.
Fun fact: this beer is quite popular in Europe as a thirst quenching mixed beverage as it contains both natural and alcoholic components that dehydrate and hydrate cyclists simultaneously. The purpose of this pairing is the cleanse the palate with their 60/40 blend and 3.5% alochol content. The watermelon flavour of the soup really enhanced the tangyness from the grapefruit.
Classic Chicken and Waffles
fried chicken, crisp waffle, gravy, served with maple syrup and butter
For those of you who don’t know, I’m a huge fan of chicken and waffles, so this was my most anticipated dish of the day for me. Unfortunately, the chicken and waffles were a huge disappointment 😦 Since everything was prepped in advance, the dish was served lukewarm/cold. Waffles were bland and lacked the crispy exterior I was looking for in fresh waffles… the batter of the waffles didn’t taste fresh to me and it was hard to tell with so much gravy smothered all over the dish! Seasoning of the chicken was alright, but I had expected more.
So-Cal Style IPA
Big hops with bright citrus and grapefruit notes. Similar to candy citrus and medley of fruit that really cut out the fattiness of the chicken and waffles.
Caramelized Banana Pudding
with caramelized bananas, pudding and vanilla wafers topped with whipped cream & chocolate
49 parallel Old Boy Brown English Ale
Last but not the least.. dessert! This was actually my favourite out of the bunch. Loved the generous portion of caramelized bananas and pudding sandwiched between whipped cream and chocolate syrup. Only slight downfall was that I had some raw bananas mixed in my dessert. The beer pairing was fantastic as it had a nice aroma of maple, caramel, faint cocoa and had a nutty flavour on the finish.
In the end, each guest took home a small souvenir beer cup and were free to sample more of the beer from Granville Island Brewing and Parallel 49.
2901 E Hastings St
Reservation? Yes (no longer available)