Posted on February 17th, 2011 by .

I`ve been covering the Montreal High Lights food festival (known now as the Wine and Dine Experience) since it first started a decade ago. That first year, we ate our faces off and the guest chef was the father of contemporary French cuisine, Paul Bocuse. I went to his cooking class at the ITHQ and we made poached lobster. And that`s about all I remember, after all the wine pairings…

The good news is that, after ten years covering a massive food festival such as this, you learn to pick ‘em- events that look promising, innovative and one-of-a-kind, no matter what your interests are or what your budget is. So here, without further ado, are the Montreal Buzz’s Top 5 High Lights Wine and Dine events:

Best table (sold out version): That would have to be the decadent President’s dinners at Toque!, which are now sold out at $300/plate. This year, the festival’s Honourary President is French chef Anne-Sophie Pic, the only female chef to hold three Michelin stars. Though the tables may be gone, come back to the blog for coverage of the opening-day hors d’oeuvre event, starring Pic.

Best table (tickets still available): So many amazing options, oh so hard to pick just one. Would it be Melissa Craig from Whistler’s Bearfoot Bistro at Chez L’Epicier? Boston’s Barbara Lynch at Pullman? Emmanuelle Leftick at La Fabrique? Anita Lo at Koko? I’m going to make the call and say Mindy Segal at Laloux. Segal is a famous Chicago chef who began in the sweet stuff and has since branched out to whole-course meals, which is what she’ll be doing at Laloux in conjunction with their resident pastry chef, Michelle Marek

Best culinary tour: With so many great guided tours, it’s a tough call whether to take a walk around Old Montreal or the more residential neighbourhood of Little Italy—but in the end, we vote for chocolate. Welcome to the gourmet world of chocolate makers! Since Montreal is a little chilly in February, this culinary tour gets extra points for actually taking place in a vehicle.

Best pairing: Cognac and Chocolate at Pullman bar a vins (can you sense a theme developing here?) features Montreal chocolatier Chloe and French cognac producer Francine Forgeron teaming up for a tasting menu and custom-made chocolates for the occasion.

Best free event: Call me a meat nerd, but I’m super excited about some of the demos during this weekend’s Charlevoix at Jean-Talon Market event. As visitors to Montreal know, Marche Jean-Talon is the bustling hub of the city’s food culture, and what better place to bring to the city what the Charlevoix region of the province of Quebec has to offer: some of the best meats, cheeses and other products in the country, grown and raised locally, organically, and with heart. All day Saturday, the region’s producers will be demoing recipes that feature their wares, from the deli meats and charcuterie of Boucherie Lyn Tremblay to an Emu-liver salad from Quebec’s foremost Emu farm.

Guest Blogger: Melora Koepke

Photo Credit: ©Festival Montréal en Lumière, Convivial- Francois Pesant: ©Festival Montréal en Lumière, La Fabrique- Victor Diaz Lamich: Marche Jean-Talon & Restaurant Toqué!- © Tourisme Montréal, Stephane Poulin

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