Pop Up Hamilton has hosted exceptionally spectacular events since its inception. I was so thrilled to be at the very first one in October 2013 where we were treated to Nellie James Gourmet at a Waterfront warehouse-turned-romantic dining hall.
From there, I attended a couple more – Robert To’s exquisite culinary stylings at the Leander Boat Club, and Pop Up’s largest event, The Ultimate Pop Up, which featured six different chefs at elegant Liuna Station. Pop Up also hosted more events throughout their first year, including a Valentine’s Day extravaganza, and a glorious ode to Indian cuisine (Jaikārā!! Pop Up India).
A year of showcasing some of the city’s finest chefs in unconventional settings all led up to the first anniversary of Pop Up Hamilton last month – their Harvest Soiree. The restaurant of choice for this one was new local favourite Aberdeen Tavern and the location was beautiful Knollwood Golf Club in Ancaster.
It was a bit of a drive from my neck of the woods – part of the adventure was just getting there! I treated my mom to this one, and we loved the gorgeous setting right away. It was a chilly evening so we quickly headed inside the tent to warm up with a cocktail (naturally). Aberdeen’s wine and spirits expert, Avi Constam, concocted a delicious drink using Dillon’s Distillery gin. Everyone was asked to bring non-perishable goods for Ancaster Community Services as admission into the cocktail lounge, pre-dinner, which was a great idea.
The setting was so elegant and rustic underneath the tent, with twinkling lights and bales of hay. Front and centre was our music for the night, Harlan Pepper. Poor Marlon, the drummer, was down for the count due to a shoulder injury, but that didn’t stop him from joining in with vocals. Marlon always takes the lead on their classic cover of “Wooly Bully,” which is always a hit. That got the crowd up and dancing in no time. Harlan Pepper are always brilliant.
Throughout the night we got to hear Pop Up mastermind Dave Hanley say a few words on the mic, as well as Aberdeen’s Jason Cassis, who revealed a brand new venture. He announced Dundurn Market, set to open early next year. Located just down the street from Aberdeen, it will be a country market “featuring bread, cheese, meat, pickles, juice and coffee.” Follow for updates @DundurnMarket.
Before each course, Aberdeen Tavern’s Executive Chef Nathaniel Beattie as well as Ches Zaborowski talked a bit about what we would be eating. They were really endearing and funny with their commentary. Nathaniel’s speech describing third course ended with: “Aaaaand, boom. You’re welcome.” It’s not a culinary masterpiece without a “Boom!” And we can’t forget about the wine pairings by Mike Weir Estate Winery – we heard from Jeff Hundertmark all about what they chose to pair with each dish.
Here’s a recap of the dishes, courtesy of Pop Up’s rundown, because really, who expects me to remember all of these ingredients when I’m too busy chowing down:
Course #1: Soup duo – 1) Sunchoke puree (Jerusalem artichoke) garnished with Sunchoke chips & roasted honey mushrooms 2) Roasted Butternut squash soup with lardons, parsley and apple cider and creme fraiche
Course #2: Seared Sea Scallop with charcoal grilled root vegetable hash, duck crackling, sage jus gras
Course #3: Grilled Herb Crusted Beef Tenderloin, roasted wild mushrooms with barley, celeriac puree, baby heirloom carrots, bordelaise sauce.
Course #4: Carrot cake with homemade maple bourbon and rosemary ice cream, roasted peach preserve
The soup in particular was out of this world. I’m not even a soup person. It’s like I have no patience for soup. I never give soup a fair chance. But this soup – unreal. #souptalk
Once again, it was a fabulous evening. As with any Pop Up, it was a real who’s who of Hamilton but it’s also fun to grab a table and meet new people. We were in lovely company and really enjoyed our chat during the dinner.
Cheers, Pop Up Hamilton, on another masterpiece! The next event is December 3rd – Pop Up Hamilton’s Holiday High Jinks at Hamilton Farmers’ Market!
Also, I first met organizer Dave Hanley through his fantastic Dishcrawl Hamilton events (I really cut my teeth at those!), and I’m happy to see he is relaunching that idea as Pop Up Neighbourhoods. The first one is tomorrow, November 25th, (ticket info here) but be on the lookout for more.
Note: I received a media pass to attend Pop Up Hamilton, but all thoughts about the night are my own.