When some friends insisted that I needed to have a baby shower, I frowned. I didn’t really want to to put anyone out hosting some sort of afternoon tea with games and ribbons and diaper cakes.
Being the bossy pants that I can occasionally (ahem) be, I asked (um, maybe stated) if we could do a barbecue dinner at PaSu Farm, roughly a 45-minute drive north of Calgary. I had read about their South African barbecue a while ago, but never really had a reason to go.
They do lunches, afternoon teas, private functions and special dinners throughout the year, like roast beef meals in the winter. The barbecues ($40 per person, not including drinks) are every Saturday evening in the summer. (Yes, make sure you call for reservations.)
It’s a gorgeous setting, especially on a clear, sunny day. I’d advise arriving early so you can walk around the property with its expansive view of the mountains, and visit with the sheep and llamas and Patrick’s cockatiel.
I can see PaSu being a great place for a small wedding. The dining room has huge ceilings and huge windows, with beautiful African art and tapestries on the wall. For my meat shower, as it came to be known, 15 of us sat at tables set up in a square shape so we could all talk.
While we waited for everyone to arrive, there were hors d’oeuvres of popcorn with truffle salt (I think) and delicious fritters made of green peppers and chickpea flour (I think).
Then they announced that the barbecue was ready and we all lined up at the grills on the covered patio to get our meat. There was boerewors, a South African sausage made of lamb, pork and spices. It was quite lean and delicious.
Pieces of tandoori chicken were soo moist and full of flavour. Thick sirloin steak and lamb ribs rounded out the meat complement.
I asked if the lamb ribs came from the sheep on the farm; the answer was maybe. That’s because PaSu actually sells their lamb to Sunterra for processing, and then just buy back the two or three cuts they actually use for the restaurant.
While meat may have been the focus, a buffet of side dishes inside held some nice treats. Homemade corn bread, a refreshing Caesar salad with homemade dressing, sweet corn on the cob, and baby potatoes necessitated a separate plate.
A big crowd-pleaser was a kind of chili dish. I’m not a big fan of chili or beans but I had a second helping of this. I asked Patrick about it, and he said it’s something he learned to cook from his nanny in South Africa.
Basically, you take a cut of meat with a *lot* of fat on it (in this case, beef) and you cook it with samp, which are dried corn kernels that soak for several hours, some red beans, a bit of curry powder and salt and pepper. The long cooking time renders the fat into the rest of the “chili.”
After all that, dessert was laid out: a kind of braided donut dipped in syrup called a koeksister, some vanilla ice cream and fresh fruit salad.
It was a great meal and a great space for us to celebrate our future (hopefully non-fussy eater) addition.
PaSu Farm, Near Hwy 2 And Hwy 580, Carstairs, Alberta, (403) 337-2800 or toll-free 1-800-679-7999. Reservations required.