Thursday, February 24, 2011

Mask ice sculpture at Winnipeg's Festival du Voyageur

Strolling on a frigid morning among the massive winter artworks in the park, I couldn't help but admire the dedication of the ice sculptors from around the world who stood atop tall ladders putting the finishing touches on their ice sculptures. Sculptors from Mexico and Argentina had never seen snow, but that was no deterrent. Flood-lit at night, a set of leering masks and another of medieval warriors and their horses appeared like strange creatures from another world. Looming at the entrance to Voyageur Park was my favourite, a 15 metre long, 5 ½ metre high rendition of a musher on a sled pulled by a team of husky dogs.

Another of the Festival's interesting and tasty diversions was a culinary event. In a rustic log house cum restaurant, Fort Gibraltar’s wine expert, Shawn Brandson, invited our tour group to a wine tasting and lunch. Starting with three different wines; Sandhill (Pinot Blanc), Angels Gate (Riesling) and Rigby (Mead Framboise) with a selection of cheeses; Bothwell Madagascar Green Peppercorn, Oka and Riviere Rouge Cheese, and Clover, Espresso, and chocolate honey, we sipped, dipped and sampled. A green salad followed, involving the participation of a volunteer from each table whose task was to prepare a dressing under the directions of the head chef.

A Voyageur at the Festival du Voyageur
For me, as always, the piece de resistance was the dessert of blackberries, cherries, and strawberries with a Sabayen sauce made with egg, sugar and wine drizzled over the fruit. As the chef carefully stirred the sauce on a wood stove until just the right moment, Brandson described the thickening creamy liquid as very tricky to make, and he laughingly told us “if not done very carefully, you could end up with Sabayen ... or scrambled egg”.

Today, although St. Boniface is a neighbourhood where French is the predominant language, close to 100 other languages, from Inuktuk and Mikmaq to Icelandic and Punjabi can be heard throughout this charming Francophone locale. It is a multi-cultural success where the old culture of the voyageurs is lovingly preserved and celebrated by all.

Photos copyright Anne Gordon

Posted by Anne Gordon on Thursday, 24th February



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