Monday, May 14, 2012

Mugaritz Chef Andoni Aduriz: Buca Restaurant, Toronto, Entertains.

When the chef of the #3 Resto in the world comes to your city, where would you choose to take him? That was THE MAJOR question dangling on everyone's mind. Here is a chef with impeccable visual and oral aesthetics, at the top of his game. We decided to entertain him at Buca restaurant where chef Rob Gentile creates dishes that are both rustic and sophisticated ethnic representations of his roots and travel experience. Rob Gentile is a talented, fastidious perfectionist whose execution of a range of rustic dishes makes a strong impression on his diners. This rustic, ethnic aesthetic would provide chef Andoni Aduriz with a contrast to his usual experiences visiting other cities, such as New York, where he recently experienced elevated cuisine as a guest of chef Thomas Keller's Per Se and chef Wiley Dufresne's WD-50.

The Cookbook Store event with chef Aduriz, left to right, Alison Fryer, store manager, Chef Aduriz, Annie Sibonney and store owner Josh Josephson.
I must thank Annie Sibonney, food network show host and owner of Relish Tours, who made it possible to give chef Aduriz a full range of personal experience here in Canada. This connected experience was made possible by Annie's wide ranging personal relationships with some of the finest chefs in europe, extensive travels and her time living in Spain. Her good taste, flawless command of the Spanish language and her entertaining and lively personality all made it possible for Chef Aduriz and his english speaking hosts to have such an enjoyable social experience. Annie with chef Aduriz, below.

We began with bocconcino, gnocchi fritto accompanied by burro di lardo and Tuscan pistachios. We broke open the gnocchi "puff" and spread the lardo and chopped pistachios.

Crudo di mare
Raw B.C. spot prawns with coriander, unrefined citrus herb salt, Terre di San Mauro olive oil and crisp rosemary leaves. The head was minimally deep fried to perfect doneness so that the soft interior was enjoyed with the crispy shell of the head, legs and antennae, a potato chip of the sea!

Ricci, fresh shucked sea urchin with wild ginger, impeccably fresh!

Salumi di Buca, a selection of house cured salumi served with seasonal preserves, including 1 1/2 year aged elk leg, thinly shaved off the bone, beef tongue, lardo and pork heart sausage and a horse meat bresaola. The elk was particularly noteworthy for it's subtle, complex nutty flavours. Below, chef Gentile proudly displaying the elk leg for slicing.

The sliced elk.

The rest of the charcuterie, from left, beef tongue, lardo and pork heart sausage and the horse meat bresaola.

Nodini, bread knots with olive oil, rosemary, garlic and sea salt (no photo).

Orecchio di Maiale, crisp pig's ears with wild fennel salt. These were addictive, comparable to trying not to eat more than one chip when presented with a bag of truly great potato chips....but better!!

Noteworthy culture columnist of the National Post, food loving Shinan Govani, distracted for a moment....but, not for long!

Pizza alla Romana, Tuscan style porchetta with mostarda, mascarpone and agliata (a Sicilian herb). We were given scissors to cut the pizza. This pizza has a wonderfully addictive flavour/texture combination.

Sciallatelli, fresh, hand cut pasta, zucchini soffrito, raw spot prawns and bottarga di riccci (a bottarga made with urchin roe). The pasta was tossed after presentation. A great combination of flavours of the sea.

Orecchiette, saffron infused, hand made pasta with baby octopus, cherry tomatoes and fava beans, finished with fresh chili and bone marrow. Another wow of a dish that filled one's palate with exploding flavour.

Polenta with smoked pork blood sausage, finished with wild leeks, moscato grapes and cacio di fossa cheese. This from a chef infused with local traditions whose passion brings together the flavours of the region.

Smoked mozzarella cheese foam (spuma), with a texture like hollandaise sauce, but made with olive oil rather than butter, and also scamorza cheese melted into this and mixed together. The top was caramelized and morels, rosemary leaves and a liquid reduction, was added. This was a mouth watering dish, with mild, smokey, rich tasting flavours all enhanced by the wonderful morels.

Nespole (loquat) sorbetti with boreal honey to which passito (a late harvest wine)was added all topped with coltsfoot flower. This was a truly refreshing, palate intriguing dessert, with wonderful, subtle, complex flavours. The flower contributed a mild mellon like flavour.

Sapori di Sicilia, a tasting of Sicilian cannoli with a filling of buttermilk, riccotta cheese and bergamot; briosche with a pork blood, pistachio and red current wine gelato sandwiched in the briosche; and baba 'al rum soaked with balsam fir gelato and spiced rum, the baba drizzled with maple syrup.

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