Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Greatest Pieds de Cochon I Have Enjoyed Anywhere!

Originally, I first enjoyed this exceptional dish made by Pierre Koffmann at his formerly renown  London resto, Tante Claire. I was stuffed with fresh morels. I ate everything but the toenails!

Tante Claire is long gone, replaced by Gordon Ramsey's first restaurant on Royal Hospital Road.

There was quite a lull before chef Pierre Koffmann opened his more contemporary downscale resto in London, Koffmanns, but, he put his version of this great dish back on his menu. For any food lover, a dish not to be missed and in his downscale version, sided with mashed potatoes and stuffed with sweetbreads and morels. The sauce was truly remarkable and rich.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Edulis: Yes, Another Spectacular Meal!

I just want to establish that I have no shares or financial interest in Edulis. However, for me, eating there, virtually each time, has been quite a wonderful gustatory experience. I would be hard pressed eating at this level almost anywhere in my travels. This is not "fancy", "3***" style cuisine because this restaurant has a very casual atmosphere. the place settings are very informal but the dishes are rather beautiful, eclectic and well chosen. So, for the food experience, in my opinion, it is deserving of a rating of at least 17 out of 20 on the Gault Millau scale. 

So, despite my recent Edulis posting, this restaurant deserves another just so that I may be able to share what Edulis is creating with all of our readers who adore a great culinary experience.

That being said, I am not a food/restaurant critic and have no pretensions on that score. I Do have a very extensive and highly well traveled food experience background. I write this blog to share the food experiences that I have enjoyed and I praise those eating experiences that I feel are my favourites. Well, this dinner was another praiseworthy experience! Each dish seemed to surpass the next!

Fluke cured in cucumber and seaweed with a kohlrabi vinaigrette and topped with crispy julienned fried potato.

"Showcase of seafood": gooseneck barnacles from Tofino (where in Toronto would one be served this exceptional delicacy??), geoduck clam "bacon"and mussels in a subtle pine nut broth.

Pickled kabocha squash, snow crab, puffed arancini in a rich kabocha squash bisque.

Truffled tortellini with back truffles, torta cheese and a celeriac consomme.

Wild sea bream, diced garlic and celeriac and black trumpet mushrooms all in a ham broth.

Sorry, I lost it! In my knee-jerk enthusiasm I devoured the next dish and neglected to take a photo. This dish was a just shucked, large live scallop, seared on one side only, accompanied by cauliflower puree and brown butter dashi all topped with a very large slice of white truffle. A heavenly dish.

Because I neglected to take a photo of the last dish, I had chef Cabbalo prepare another scallop dish, but, unfortunately, he was out of the live scallops. This was a portion of Gaspe Bay scallops topped with white truffle on cauliflower puree and brown butter dashi. Seeing this presentation, at least you can get the idea.

Gently scrambled egg with crosne, a tuber sometimes referred to as a Chinese artichoke. It is similar in flavour to jerusalem artichoke but much more delicate. The elements were accompanied by a well flavoured, white truffled, white chicken jus and a bit of chicken fat. Beautiful!

Warm terrine of Berkshire pork, cabbage, foie gras all topped with fresh apple salad and mushrooms.

Grilled Berkshire pork chop, thankfully medium rare to rare, with turnips, brussel sprouts and bacon all dressed with parsley oil.

This dessert was one of the most satisfying choolate desserts that I have ever enjoyed. Dark Soma chocolate tart of perfect density and flavour remarkably paired with caramelized parsnip puree and shaved ripe pair. An extraordinary combination of harmonious flavours. I could have eaten 3 of these!!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Palm Beach: Jove at The Four Seasons Hotel, Pizza al Fresco, Cafe Cellini, Bistro Jean Pierre, Tucci's Fire 'N Coal Pizza Boca, Temple Orange, Manalapan.

Palm Beach is not a city of particularly good restos, but they have restaurants that do the classics very well. Below, I have featured some of the restaurants that I frequent most often. I did not mention Pizzeria Oceano only because I have mentioned it so often. For me, one of the best crusts of any pie I have experienced in North America.

Worth Avenue/ Pizza al Fresco

I always go for lunch at Pizza al Fresco, where the crust is thin, crisp and delicious and available with a terrific variety of toppings. Here, crumbled sausage, broccoli rabe and roasted garlic with mozzarella.

Jove at The Four Seasons Hotel

Jove is a new resto opened in the hotel, with an Italian born chef who previously cooked at a Four Seasons in Egypt. "Specialty" breads were presented that were so unappealing and bland, they were left in the basket. The house made breads were a poor beginning. Stone fired pizzas were then ordered.

They do make a good pizza with a crispy thin crust. Here Shiitake mushrooms, Italian parsley and chanterelle topped pizza

Pizza topped with tomato sauce, fennel sausage, padron peppers and ricotta cheese.

A delicious, warm burrata, with a creamy center, tomatoes, chopped basil and cocoa tuile in a prociutto broth. Worth having.

Pasta carbonara with a poached egg, guanciale and white sturgeon caviar. I found the pasta inedible and sent the dish back. No apologies or replacement offered.

This dish completely befuddled me because, here we have an Italian born chef and I am served  what is to me, a virtually inedible pasta. The texture made it inedible, thick, and mushy-firm. I have never experienced any pasta with texture like this in almost 40 years of traveling all over Italy, eating in restos from the most rustic to the most sophisticated and sublime.

Brodetto di pesce with shrimp, clams, scallop, calamari and branzino in a very good tomato and fennel broth.

Caramel semifreddo with orange sorbet, biscotti and orange flavoured jelly. The sorbet was so tasty we ordered a sorbet as a separate course to follow. 

Cafe Cellini (NOW CLOSED)

Visiting this resto is like visiting palm beach 40-50 years ago, with many patrons of "vintage", except the decor feels fresh, the mood romantic and the food prepared is so well executed. They keep to the classics and whatever they do, they do well.

A very good vegetable soup in a vegetable broth. Remarkably rich tasting.

A dish I start with every time I visit this resto, rigatoni bolognese with aged parmesan. They do an extremely good, rich tomato sauce.

They also do a very good classically prepared veal Milanese (no photo).

Apple pie.

Cheesecake with raspberry sauce.

Bistro Jean Pierre

The dishes that you see below is what I order virtually every visit. Unusual for me, but they are that good.

Classic fish soup served with croutons and rouille. Sorry, jumped the gun again before taking my photo!

The restaurant's classical filet of Dover sole, meuniere, perfectly cooked and just about as good as one could get anywhere sole is prepared "the best", served with spinach, carrots and rice, rather mundane but acceptable accompaniments.

Tucci's Fire 'N Coal Pizza, Boca Raton

Boca, is just about 30 minutes south of Palm Beach and easily accessible. Tucci's makes a very good pizza and it is "famous" in Florida, but, Pizzeria Oceano, in Lantana, immediately just south of Palm Beach, is still my "gold standard" for pizza, one of my 3 favourite pizzas in North America.

Cannellini beans and escarole, sauteed in olive oil with red onions and roasted garlic, accompanied by pizza oven mad flat bread. The dish is normally finished with romano cheese, but I skipped the cheese as preferred. A very tasty and addictive dish.

Eggplant rolatini, lightly breaded and fried, sliced eggplant in the house's "famous", and it is indeed very good, tomato sauce. Again, this dish is typically stuffed with ricotta cheese and topped with mozzarella and romano cheeses, but I skipped the cheeses as I prefer this dish without them. It was very good this way.

Marguerita pizza topped with arugula. A good pizza. Nice crust but not exceptional.

Whole wheat pizza crust topped with their "famous" tomato sauce, roasted garlic cloves, red onions, basil and arugula. It was a good pizza but the white flour pizza was better tasting and had a preferable crunchy texture. Perhaps this crust is healthier?

Temple Orange at the Eau Palm Beach, Manalapan

The former Ritz Carlton has become the luxurious Eau Palm Beach Hotel and Spa. It has 2 restaurants.

 “Gold Coast” Israeli style cucumber tomato salad, with diced cucumber, diced Tomato  and chopped  red onions and picked herbs. Quite good, nice texture and flavours.

 Roasted eggplant soup topped with giant couscous and roasted eggplant.

A very tasty charred eggplant dip topped with pomegranate, served with warm pita. Nice flavour and texture but sitting in far too much oil of very little flavour, so after a a few scoops, most was left. The dish would have been terrific without all the added oil.

Roasted cauliflower (typically served with pine nuts, mint and parmesan. I requested the dish be made without all 3 ingredients), with roasted sweet red peppers. Again, very tasty but a bit too oily/greasy.

Tamarind glazed short ribs with green lentils, celery root, hazelnuts and mint (did not get the culinary connection of the nuts with this dish at all). A very tender, slow cooked flavourful piece of beef.

Green lentils with celery root (typically made with hazelnuts and mint which i requested not be included with the dish). Very good flavour, but unfortunately, over salted.

Buckwheat noodles with eggplant, mango and herb salad. My favourite dish of the meal. 

Cheesecake, "New York style", with raspberry coulis. Nice flavour but a bit too dense.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Bosk Restaurant, Toronto.

Bosk, in the Shangri-la Hotel, has had a new chef for a little while now.

Seared Nova Scotia scallops with avocado puree, hon-shimiji mushrooms, crunchy rice and a sesame ginger dressing.

The ingredients for the corn soup, puffed corn, jalapeno pepper and dungeness crab.

The corn soup added to the ingredients above.

Lobster with potato gnocchi, forest mushrooms and a tomato lobster emulsion.

Hamachi sashimi with nori, cucumber, radish, shiso and ponzu dressing.

Scallop with sweet pea, buckwheat and prociutto broth. A very good dish.

Beef tartar with horseradish, pickled onion, egg and cod roe aioli.

Seared foie gras with strawberries, sorrel, pistachios and brioche.

Toasted bread, bocconcini cheese, tomatoes and basil.

Roasted organic chicken breast, properly cooked and juicy, with barley, hen of the woods mushrooms, peas and scallion veloute.

Honey glazed duck breast with fava beans, buckwheat, cherry, beets, creme fraiche and brown butter.

Cumbrae Farms 45 day old dry aged strip loin with cippollini onions, broccoli, bone marrow croquette, mustard and natural jus.

Sweet pea and mushroom agnolotti, with pea leaves, chanterelles and parmesan cheese.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The New Splendido Cuisine: Two Fabulous Tasting Events.

I have noticed that the trend for many of the best restos, some relatively new, when I travel to London, Paris and New York, is to have no menu per se. Just how many courses and how much. Essentially, an omikase (trust the chef) menu with whatever ingredients are the most interesting from the best of what is supplied from the region or locally. The waiter asks is you have any food dislikes, food preferences (such as better cooked meat or fish) or any food allergies. Another local restaurant that is following this procedure is Edulis.

For me, the quality and style of these meals set Chef Victor Barry's cooking uniquely apart from any restaurant experience in Canada! These 2 meals that follow, will reveal his new approach to tasting menus. Each surprise dish was sheer perfection of pristine freshness and flavour composition.

You will notice quite a few sashimi dishes done in chef Barry's own adaptation of Japanese style. You would be hard pressed to enjoy a better quality sashimi experience anywhere in Canada. 

I apologize for the lighting of the photos in this first meal as I was obliged to use my dinner companion's camera. 

Gougeres with potato and leek soup with creme fraiche and goat cheese.

Salmon roe cornet with maple syrup and blue spruce foam.

Osetra caviar, white chocolate and potato ice cream. These complements are going to sound redundant after a while, but, a terrific combination of textures and flavors.

Oysters topped with a mignonette sauce.

Uni perfection with nori on thin toast.

Octopus and saffron topped with tarragon leaves. Perfectly tender with the proper texture.

Lightly smoked irish organic salmon topped with shiso leaves. Loved this.

House made fresh cheese with lavender and buckwheat blini.

Grilled radish, radish leaf, radish snow, radish oil and ricotta cheese.

Porcini mushroom cracker topped with porcini snow and chives.

Halibut wing with Canadian wasabi and oxalis leaves.

Lightly cured trout with pickled cipollini mushrooms and chive oil.

The presentation of the dish below.

Smoked oyster (when the top of the dish was removed, the wood smoke was released) with potato, beurre monte and chopped chives.

Roasted golden beet, 5 spiced beets, spruce ash, buttermilk espuma, nasturtium leaf and flower.

Bolero carrot and ginger (5 hour cooked carrot, to the point of very sweet perfection).

Truffled coddled eggs.

Grilled hamachi collar with fermented black bean sauce, cilantro and verbena.

Crusty, just baked bread accompanied by creamed foie gras and cultured butter. Yes, served intentionally at this moment of the meal.

Spinach Agnolotti with butter, parmigiano reggiano and topped with black Perigord truffle.

Glazed sweetbreads and snails with spinach, fermented squid ink and garlic foam with garlic chips.

65 day dry aged Cumbrae Farms ribcap with romesco sauce, parmigiano reggiano and Vicki's Veggies tomatoes.

Cucumber, nori and gin dessert.

Chocolate ganache (yellow - passion fruit and green - pistachio).

Milk and Cereal: dehydrated milk foam, a milk sorbet, all on top of granola with honey and chamomile.

Left: pate du fruit - lavender and thyme
Top: blackberry marshmallow
Right: raspberry macaroon

Meal #2

Lameque oysters topped with diced green apple and jalapeno mignonette. In the bag, blue popcorn combined with dehydrated scallops and bacon fat.

Osetra caviar, white chocolate and potato ice cream. A terrific combination of textures and flavors.

Lightly grilled, Bay of Fundy salmon belly topped with nori condiment (in glass bowl); "salmon tea" with smoked salmon, lemon twist and spicey ramp oil; salmon cracker (on crushed pop can) with salmon skin, avocado puree, sesame puree, pickled jalapeno, anaheim chile and cilantro.

Turbot sashimi, bone oil, pickled young ginger shoots, lime and salt.

"Fish N' chips, smelt with lemon, salt and lime.

Very fresh uni (sea urchin) on toast. 

Monterey abalone sashimi with it's liver topped with nasturtium pesto and flowers.

"Clambake", barely cooked clam with bacon, seaweed and seawater.

Seaweed on rocks accompanied the clam dish above, for the enticing surrounding aroma (nothing eaten here).

Roasted, perfectly "undercooked" lobster with it's tomalley emulsion with perilla leaves. 

Roasted B.C. octopus, possessing a perfectly tender texture, with saffron rouille and topped with pickled cucumber. 

Hamachi sashimi with Canadian wasabe, garlic, nori and a mild tamari sauce.

Cooked hamachi belly topped with spruce-black bean emulsion 

Rainbow trout with cultured cream and fermented cipollini onions.

 Trout roe cornets with red onion and spruce foam.

Cold smoked oyster with fresh river caviar.  

 Salad of jerusalem artichokes, matsutake mushrooms and Molise black truffles.

Porcini crackers. 

Bolero carrot and ginger (five hour cooked carrot to the point of very sweet perfection), topped with smoked creme fraiche and ginger oil all flavoured with coriander, thyme and bay leaf.

Salted linzer potato cooked in whey and fermented milk with mint and lightly smoked egg yolk.  

Ricotta agnolotti topped with white truffles. 

The presentation of just baked bread accompanied by creamed foie gras and cultured butter. 

Hare royale, Quebec hare with blood, chocolate and maple syrup sauce. 

 Crackling with beet and crackling.

Perfection in beef, perfectly cooked Cumbrae farms 65 day dry aged rib cap (my absolute favourite cut of great beef), accompanied by beef heart. 

Eastern pine mushroom puree with bone marrow accompanied by a donut filled with chocolate, maple and milk caramel.

A presentation of some very good 12 year old rum accompanied by a juice consisting of apple, vanilla and cinnamon, to be added to the rum.

The presentation of the pumpkin dessert. 

Pumpkin dessert: praline crème Légère, butter tart puree, pumpkin seeds, brown butter crumble and pumpkin foam.

Left to right: dark chocolate praline ganache; blackberry and white chocolate; dark chocolate and passion fruit.

Banana and rum macaroon (far right); top: apricot and lavender pate du fruit; Bottom: raspberry marshmallow.