Recently, we were invited to a special tasting with Chef Vitaly Paley at Imperial restaurant. I was intrigued to learn that we would be sampling dishes made with Liberte yogurt. I wasn't sure exactly what that would entail, but we thought it sounded interesting. Although I had heard of Chef Vitaly Paley before, I had never been to any of his restaurants. I had, however, tried Liberte yogurt. During the school year I eat yogurt as part of my lunch just about every day. When I saw Liberte yogurt at Fred Meyer for the first time, I ended up buying some and absolutely loving it (especially the coconut flavor). Part of the reason why I chose the Mediterranean type was because my husband is picky and thinks low fat yogurt is not good (I have managed to trick him before with low fat yogurt and he hasn't noticed, but that is another story). In any case, I really enjoyed it, and I figured it was worth the extra fat and carbs to have such a dessert-like treat.
All three of us felt very special when we arrived to the tasting and saw how everything was set up just for us. They even had a sign with our blog name on it, which I found very charming. I admit, I was a little intimidated about talking to a chef before we arrived, but Chef Paley, the publicist, and the representatives from Liberte couldn't have been nicer or more welcoming. I love to eat great food, and it was fun to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the chef's process. The Liberte yogurt representatives also encouraged us to try as many flavors of yogurt as we wanted in addition to the dishes that were made with the yogurt, so I got to try flavors that aren't available at Fred Meyer. My favorite was still the coconut, but the French vanilla was a close second.
The other dish that stood out for me was the Tikka Masala. I had never had quail before, so it was a new experience for me. I loved the sauce that came with it, and the accompanying dip and bread were great, too. We asked Chef Paley if he planned to put this dish on the menu because we liked it so much, but he seemed to think it would deviate too much from his restaurant's main focus. We hope he changes his mind, because it was a big favorite (even with the vegetarian--he prepared some of the sauce for her separately so she could try it too, which I thought was very thoughtful).
One thing that I found pretty surprising was that I left the tasting very full. Yes, I did help myself to multiple yogurt shots, but I didn't think that I ate THAT much because the dishes were smaller portions. My cobloggers thought that the whole milk yogurt had something to do with it being so filling.
After this experience, I definitely would like to try Chef Paley's restaurants for Happy Hour or a special occasion dinner. It is pretty cool that our Happy Hour blog led us to such a fun, unique experience!