Friday, March 17, 2017

Edulis: What Constitutes a Great Meal/ Great Comfort food, Well Done.

What constitutes a great meal? A great meal can be well executed at so many different levels. But well composed dishes with creatively different ingredients that are the very best of ingredients: rusticated food prepared with a very sophisticated touch, consistently well executed and simply composed, now THAT is a rare experience!

From my personal perspective, having traveled to many countries around the world, experiencing the very best food offered at so many different levels, over many years, Edulis is a singular experience that consistently stands out among the very best meal experiences I have enjoyed anywhere. It is why I write about my experiences there so often.

Below, I would like to share two leisurely Sunday lunches, enjoyed with good friends, accompanied by  some very good bottles of wine. Each dish was individually delicious. A wonderful way to lol away a Sunday afternoon in Toronto.



Wild red sea bream with new crop olive oil, blood orange and fermented chili. 

Crab, foie gras and leek terrine with frisee and black truffle tapenade. An exceptional dish of flavours and textures! 

Live scallop, simply broiled with garlic and parsley.

Montforteb halloumi cheese with fermented green tomatoes and claytonia.

Salsify meuniere with anchovy and caper. 

Overwintered cabbage with hazelnuts. 

Rutabaga fries with smoked creme fraiche. 

Succulent St. Canut milk fed piglet belly with cocoa nibs, radish and mint. 

Heritage chicken "al ajillo" (with garlic). 

The chicken presentation, with rice.

A wonderful selection of cheeses courtesy of the fabulous cheese palate of chef Toby Nemeth, served with the classic Spanish membrillo.

Lady Baltimore cake. A perfect refreshing end to a great comfort meal. 

Meal #2, Another Sunday Lunch

Mussels in escabeche, plump and delightful.

Broth of beef shank and beets. Such a simple formulation; so satisfying and delicious.

Raw fluke with blood orange, pistachios and fried bread. 

Montforte water buffalo fresco with zucchini sott'olio anda mess of seeds.

Sunchokes roasted with honey, vinegar and chives. 

Hay smoked carrots with radish ceviche and yogurt. 

Razor clams with black truffle tapanade. This was a remarkable dish. The clams were cooked to a perfect tenderness and texture and the black truffles and truffle tapanade were a rather brilliant and unexpected combination. 

Poached pork sausage in it's skin with cabbage. Truly delicious. 

Bonito with green garlic and Spanish rice. 

Prune and armagnac ice cream with apple cake.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Hashimoto, The Great Canadian Japanese Kaiseki Restaurant

Chef Masaki Hashimoto was one of the top 5 winners in a competition of kaiseki chefs in Japan, in 2008. Your experience at Hashimoto will best exemplify his talents.

Every element of the cuisine that we experienced at Hashimoto was flown in fresh from Japan. The rarer the item or greater the provenance, the more costly, especially as the fresh fish is in the resto within about 30 hours out of the water from Japan. 


Frankly, having experienced many of the greatest restaurants in Japan, over the years, I find the rarified level of experience at Hashimoto to be one of the closest in North America to what one can experience in Japan at some of their very best restos. Further, as compared to any other Canadian Japanese resto, Hashimoto is at another level. Not more than about 6 North American Japanese restaurants reach this height. 


If you are an experienced Japanese cuisine aficionado and can appreciate the more subtle elements, if you are prepared to give the chef a free hand in getting the very best of what is available and are prepared to pay for this kind of service and quality, give Kei Hashimoto, the son of the owner/chef enough advance notice, and a dream meal will follow, especially if you have eaten there before and he knows you well. You will probably have the very small resto virtually to yourselves and the complete attention of kei and the chef. Yes, in comparison to your North American experiences this level of experience will be very expensive, but I guaranty that the experience will be a truly unique gustatory pleasure and the expense reflective of the best of Japan and the cost of getting the Japanese food elements to Toronto very quickly, from the best sources.


Of course, there are various other levels of experience at Hashimoto that are less expensive. The cost of the meal will depend on your choice. But whatever level of experience you choose, it will be indeed unforgettable. With Kaiseki cuisine, there is no menu. The dishes presented will depend of the level of experience you choose (cost) and the season.



Our first bottle of sake: Daiginjo Shizuku Sake, Jyuhachidai Ehei, from Fukushima prefecture.

This is a drip filtered Daiginjo sake representing the 18th Generation Brew Master, calling it Ihei. Okunomatsu Shuzo company established in 1716 just celebrated their 300th year anniversary.


Zensai

Steamed sea urchin (uni), sea urchin sashimi, sesame tofu. This sea urchin was "super premium" (goku goku jyo) from nemuro-shi, Hokkaido, Japan!


Sashimi-1


Tennen madai (fresh Japanese red sea bream from Fukuoka, Kyushu, Japan) and madai blanched skin, hand cut daikon and freshly grated wasabe. All served on a 250 year old imari-yaki plate.


Owan-mono (Soup)





Shirako (fresh cod sperm from Nemuro-shi, Hokkaido, Japan) charred, Uguisuna (petit turnip) with yuzu strips, broth made from madai (Japanese red sea bream), grated kabu (turnip) and kuzu starch. 



Yaki-mono - 1 (Grilled)


Fresh ise-ebi (spiny lobster from Ooita, Kyushu, Japan).


Grilled spiny lobster tail with miso and baked head accompanied by palate cleansers of lotus root, hand cut daikon and carrot.


Sashimi-2


Raw spiny lobster, lightly blanched on the bottom and raw at the top, served on a 300 year old Utsu Tsu-Yaki plate.
.

Taki Awase (Steamed and Stewed)






Amadai (tile fish from Fukuoka, Kyushu, Japan), steamed with kombu (sea kelp), grated turnip and drizzled with ponzu sauce, accompanied by snow peas, plum flavoured carrot and yuzu strips.



Sashimi-3

Fresh okoze (stone fish from Ooita, Kyushu, Japan).



Stone fish sashimi served with boiled stonefish liver, accompanied by ponzu sauce, grated daikon with red peppers and green onion.


Agemono (Fried)


Fried stone fish fin and head served with ponzu sauce.

Yaki-mono-2 (Grilled)


Unagi (Japanese freshwater eel from Kagoshima, Kyushu, Japan), grilled and topped with either salt with wasabe and sansho pepper or with with house made teriyaki sauce.

Shii-zakana (Extra dish)


Live kegani (Horsehair crab) from Hokkaido, Japan.


Barely poached kegani crab legs served with wari-zu (sweet vinegar sauce).




Hokkaido Hairy Crab enjoyed Shabu shabu style, with a light soy vinegar sauce. Using a Binchotan burner, the crab was enjoyed either lightly blanched or fully boiled to one's liking, in Konbu water. 

Signature dish


Charred A-5 ribeye Juoshu wagyu beef from Gunma prefecture, Japan, served with macha sea salt, signature, hand carved daikon crane, with a carrot dressing (white cup) and all accompanied by palate cleansers of Japanese green plum and sweet kumquat.


The provenance certificate of the beef.


Tomi-zen (Main)




Kegani (horsehair crab) rice topped with hand cut fried ginger and accompanied by spiny lobster miso soup with egg tofu and mizuna, 5-day stewed pork belly with hot mustard and also arrow root, gobo root, yama imo (Japanese mountain yam) and sato imo (Japanese taro root) all simmered in turnip leaves and stems.
Mizu-mono (Dessert)



Strawberry, pear with edible gold flakes, Japanese style pudding, Matcha crepe with cream, house made ice cream: strawberry, vanilla, matcha and hojicha (a form of Japanese green tea), all served on a 70 year old Arita-yaki (Kaki Uemon) plate.

Enjoying the tea ceremony after our dinner, in a private room.

As I mentioned, overall, quite an extraordinary experience!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Awai Vegan Restaurant, Toronto

Awai is the creation of someone I consider one of toronto's most accomplished philosopher chefs, Nathan Isberg. Chef Isberg is remarkably creative in combining a very wide range of far reaching flavours. I have followed him through his evolution of restos, last being Atlantic and now the vegan Awai. At Awai, servers are not tipped as menu prices include gratuities. Chef Isberg has installed a large wood burning oven.


Porcini mushroom and cauliflower with mountain pepper jerk and topped with sliced black truffles.


Golden beet veloute with rose petals, pistachios and berbere spices.


A salad of apples cooked in coals overnight, dehydrated apples, raddichio cooked directly on embers, crisp castle franco with a mustard pickle-kombucha dressing and seasoned with rose and z’atar.

Roasted cherry tomato coca (Catalan sourdough flatbread cooked in the wood burning oven) with Temiskaming spices.

Shishito peppers, Morrocan olives and arugula allioli on coca.


Artichokes barigoule ravoioles, pea tips veloutes and migas.


Coal cooked potatoes ztrapacka, black kale and baharat seasoning.


Paella made with black rice, wild mushrooms (chanterelles, etc), huitlacoche, burgundian truffles, crisp trapline wild rice and amontillado sherry.

Tatin- confit of honey crisp apples, rosemary and almond cream 


Caramelized salsify brulee.