Cupcake Camp Montreal 2010

so many cupcakes

I participated in Cupcake Camp Montreal this year! Cupcake Camp Montreal is a charity event, raising money through cupcake donations and those who will pay to eat them. This year's charities were Kids Help Phone and La Tablรฉe des Chefs, both worthy causes. Almost 21,000 cupcakes were donated and thousands came to gobble them up (so much so that over 4,000 people had to wait outside in the cold to get in!). Over $31,000 was raised, making Cupcake Camp Montreal a rousing (and tasty) success!

cupcake, cupcake, cupcake
cupcakes galore

There were crowds and crowds of people on sugar highs, so navigating through the tables of cupcakes was a challenge. Claustrophobics beware! But if you are willing to face the hoards of people, you will have one sweet, sweet reward. I couldn't get over how many cupcakes were in one place at one time. And how are you supposed to choose which to eat? Impossible! I managed to find a few to devour (after a long and thorough search for the best). Absolutely a deliciously worthwhile time.

which would you choose?
so many cupcakes

Cupcake Camp Montreal wasn't only a giant bake sale, it was also a baking competition! I donated 50 cupcakes for the cause and entered my cupcakes into both the Amateur Taste and Amateur Design categories. The cupcakes are subjected to a preliminary round of judging by a panel of qualified cooking instructors. Those that survive the cut are then judged by a panel of celebrity judges, including the likes of Chuck Hughes, Nadia G, Ricardo Larrivรฉe, and Patrice Demers. Guess who made the cut for design?

My cupcake is aptly named the "Please, Sir, Can I Have S'more?" and features a graham cracker cupcake stuffed with marshmallow filling, covered in dark chocolate, and topped with a toasted marshmallow meringue. Isn't that a mouthful? For now I'm just going to tease you with the photograph (but the recipe will be coming soon so you can stop your protests of outrage).

judge's table

The finalists were placed on a special judging table and laid out for all to see. I was shocked to find mine among them (but oh so proud on the inside). It's right there in the middle! I even posed for a picture with it. Don't judge. You'd do the same.

right smack in the middle
posing with my cupcake

The design finalists were all so gorgeous. You could tell people spent a lot of time getting them just right.

amateur design finalists
montreal themed cupcakes

I didn't win, but I was just happy to be named among the finalists. I was also happy my friends (and fellow cupcake supporters) had counted themselves among the attendees (though I imagine it wasn't

too

hard to accept an invitation to an absolutely indulgent cupcake extravaganza).

cupcake eaters
cupcake eaters

Jean-Talon Market

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If I were Alice, the Jean-Talon Market would be my Wonderland. Located in Montreal, Quebec, it is a huge year-round farmer's market filled with every fruit and vegetable imaginable. It stocks rows and rows of some of the freshest produce around. It could take hours to simply stroll through. Once you enter the market, you are immersed in a world of sights, smells, and, best of all, tastes. Bring your appetite.

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Upon entering the market, you are immediately greeted by booths selling everything from pastries and polish doughnuts to crepes and samosas. You will want a snack when undertaking farmer's market this large, trust me. There are spice shops. Specialty olive oils (with samples!). Shops with unique frozen desserts. And this is all before you reach the real focus of the marketโ€”the fresh produce.

There are stands of all sizes, shapes, and colors. My favorite ones have free samples. While one may have the juiciest peaches, the next may hold the ripest tomatoes. Taste testing fruits and vegetables for quality before I buy is something I could definitely get used to.

The vegetable selection is immense. There are chili peppers, bell peppers (in every color), eggplant, green beans, artichokes, garlic, greens of all shades and textures, asparagus, radishes, leeks, onions, potatoes, pumpkins, herbs, and more. Much more.

The fruit selection is also intimidating with strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, cherries, pears, peaches, nectarines, grapes, plums, lemons, limes, tomatoes, apples, oranges... the list goes on and on.

And, if you are lucky, you might just stumble upon freshly made pasta sauce, ready for you to take home.

Or a cooking demonstration here or there.

There is always something new to learn when going to the market. In my limited Midwest knowledge of vegetables, there are (surprise, surprise) gaps in my produce recognition. For instance, I did not realize cauliflower could actually be, well, colorful! Vibrant yellows, pale greens, and vivid purples. Does this mean each color has its own unique taste? I might just have to find out.

And further still, some vegetables were just puzzling. This spiky little root left me with lots of questions about its mysterious identity. I shall call it an enigma vegetable until I can place its proper name.

Though the produce may glow with all the colors of the rainbow, there is something to be said about a dull, dirt covered root. Picked that morning, they come straight from the ground, still covered in their dirty little birthday suits.

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