Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Cafe Cancan, Toronto

To begin, the decor at Chef Victor Barry's new resto, (which I rarely discuss (one can't eat atmosphere), is delightfully light, brightly coloured, casual and very comfortable. Happily, the noise level is quite modest.

Smoked oysters with potato and chives. A good beginning.

Ce et Cette, a "salad" of fresh fennel, snap peas, cooked asparagus, shaved carrots, radish, anchovies, ham, cold soft boiled egg, cheese and a buttermilk dip. What a refreshing beginning!

Smoked sturgeon rillette accompanied together with a nicely crispy flatbread with onions, parsley, and chili. 

A perfectly cooked (med rare on the rare side) rainbow trout for one, topped with freshly snipped sorrel and accompanied by a very good cucumber beurre blanc. 

Asparagus with roasted hazelnuts. 

The well done (as asked for) french fries were accompanied by a mayo remoulade. Although the remoulade was fine, I preferred dipping in the delicious beurre blanc that accompanied the fish. Although the fries were crispy and very tasty, they were a bit too oily. 

Paris mushrooms. 

Barry's burger, a combination of two medium done burgers topped with mayo remoulade, red onion, pickles and cheddar cheese (thankfully, just a thin layer). A very satisfying burger. 

Northern spy apple tart for 2 (must be ordered in advance), with vanilla and ginger. Very good!

A very good, rich chocolate, salted caramel tart flavoured with chili, nutmeg, clove and cinnamon.

Friday, June 16, 2017

A Dinner With Extraordinary Mystery Wines At Edulis Restaurant, Toronto

Edulis remains one of my very favourite restos in Canada. A group of friends with very important wine cellars agreed. So, we organized one of our periodic "mystery wine" dinners at Edulis and the chefs, Michael Cabbalo and Tobey Nemeth did us proud!

The extraordinary house churned, raw milk butter from a guernsey cow, presented with some freshly baked red fife wheat buns. This is probably the best tasting butter that anyone can enjoy in Canada.

Snacks for our tasting of the wines (this one, porcini gougeres). All wines are brought to the dinner wrapped in foil. The sommelier numbers the bottles and before we sit down, pours the wine in glasses arrayed in front of each seat, left to right. We are then asked to be seated and to begin tasting the wines and guessing where they are from (country and region), their vintage and who made them.

More snacks for the tasting: House made chorizo made with house made paprika, goose sausage and exceptional sliced ham from a milk fed piglet.

Morel mushrooms with dungeness crab and wild garlic veloute.

Pardon this picture, camera went on the fritz for this and the next photo. Hay grilled Joshu A5 wagyu from Japan, topped with imperial ossetra caviar and mussel jus. 

Wild Dover sole roasted on the bone accompanied by white asparagus and pig's foot. (see above and please pardon photo).

Saucy rice of mature lobster.

Dry aged squab in 2 courses: #1-broth of the leg with black winter truffles.

Dandelion salad with smoked squab heart accompanied the second squab course.

"Dirty potatoes" with finely diced black truffles also accompanied the second squab course.

The second squab course: pithivier of foie gras and rare squab breast topped with half a crispy pan seared squab head, which was delicious.

Cheeses for our port: benedictine blue and compte, accompanied by hazelnuts, and fennel seed-stuffed dry figs.

The wines unmasked: La mandotte vintage 2000, Quinterelli amarone vintage 1985 and Vega Sicilia Unico vintage 1962.

Cotes Rotie La Turque vintage 1989; Arnaldo Caprai vintage 1998; Fonseca port vintage 1963.

Henri Boillot Chassagne Montrachet 2005 (which was fading so drink up now if you have any); Bollinger 1995; Chateaux Beychevel vintage 1961.

Henri Boillot Chassagne Montrachet 2010 (great); not shown, Turley zinfandel vintage 1997; Rudd Oakville Estate vintage 2001 (not shown) and champagne Bollinger RD 1995.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

London, UK Restaurants: La Dame de Pic; Elystan Street.

La Dame Du Pic

This is the London outpost of Anne-Sophie Pic, currently the only female French holder of 3 Michelin stars and former winner of the 50 Best Restaurants of the world "best female chef in the world".

Cucumber and tomato consomme flavoured with verbena, fennel and basil.

From the top: bon bons of chartreuse, green apple and cinnamon leaves; marshmallow currie and cashew nuts; jerusalem artichoke and licorice leaves.

House made breads with pulverized coffee infused butter that had been refrigerated over 24 hours. The butter was hauntingly good and the coffee flavour quite subtle.

Mousse of cauliflower, cumin and coconut with grated cured egg yolk and espalette pepper, generously sprinkled with grated mimolette cheese. The flavours and texture were memorable!

Asparagus marinated and roasted with pastis, green anise and licorice on a bed of asparagus "tartar" with lemon verbena ice cream. Once again, a remarkable breakthrough of flavours.

Scottish scallops served raw, marinated in black cardomom and jasmine tea, topped with shaved radish and green apple, accompanied by apple granite infused with sake and fennel and also, bavarois of sake lees.

Scottish langostine seared in shellfish butter with heirloom carrots and a carrot bouillon infused with pine tree buds and geranium.

Monkfish roasted with sobacha (roasted buckwheat tea), accompanied with Chantenay carrots, sea asparagus, morels that had been cooked in camomolle butter flavoured with clam jus and razor clams.

Kalingo chocolate with aromatic herbs (mint, micro mint, basil, Thai basil, Mexican tarragon and butterfly sorrel), cocoa nibs and chantilly. Another breakthrough of new flavours.

Petit fours: Raspberry and mint tart; Black currant bon bon of concentrated black current gel, lavender and fennel pollen (to be eaten in one bight).

Elystan Street

Ravioli of scallops and prawns with sardine vinaigrette. octopus, piperade and orange.

Hand cut strozzapreti with chicken oysters (the best part of the chicken), peas, girolle mushrooms, tarragon and parmesan. A very well conceived dish.

Salmon with crushed Jersey royal potatoes (my fave), spring onions and a veloute of watercress. 

Brillat Savarin cheesecake with meringue and verbena and mellon ice cream.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Outstanding Creative Vegan Meals at Nota Bene, Toronto.

It is not common knowledge that Nota Bene, has vegan dishes on its regular menu, but more importantly, with advance notice, chef David Lee will prepare a remarkably good, highly satisfying vegan meal experience, on par with the very best vegan meal experiences anywhere. And, in place of butter or olive oils for the bread, he will make a rapini or bean dip, or rapini and carrot dip with globe artichoke leaves or salt and vinegar baked potato chips accompanied by beet root and spinach puree. All zero fat/very low salt (or no salt), if requested.

No dish was less than outstanding.

Meal #1

Sweet English pea soup with pickled cucumber, was cold, refreshing and delicious. 

White asparagus and fiddlehead salad with sunchokes, pickled beets and fermented carrots.

Plant based Asian hot pot with soba noodles, vegan dashi, eggplant, shiitake mushrooms, celeriac and daikon radish. 

Roasted  Hawaiian pineapple with date and tulsi leaf caramel, coconut and cocoa nib crumble.

Meal #2

Belgian white asparagus with wild leeks and morinja (highly nutritious leaves grown in tropical regions) pesto.

Nigiri of portobello mushroom, partially dehydrated and compressed tomato, celery root and Cookstown carrot, accompanied by veggie hand rolls and house made pickled ginger.

Plant based lasagne made with celeriac, eggplant, charred cherry tomatoes, peas, mushrooms, goji berries and zucchini "cream". 

Banana split with coconut "ice cream", cocoa nib sauce and coconut crumble.

Meal #3

Kelp noodle salad and sunchoke puree with pickled carrots, kimchi, coriander and dehydrated olive.

Spring vegetable soup with wakame seaweed broth. 

Portobello "chicken", tomato and potato curry with lentils and spinach.

Pineapple sorbet with fennel, orange, tarragon and blueberry powder.

Like I said, remarkably creative and highly satisfying vegan cuisine.