Posts Tagged ‘apéritif’
Posted Monday 18 June 2012on:
Mark Bitterman is championing the salt renaissance. The owner of The Meadow and author of Salted hosted a dinner class at Lisa Dupar Catering a couple of weeks ago. At home we have small containers of Australian and English finishing salts and a large jar of French salt for brining, pasta water and roasting. I’m a cautious salter but I have learnt to embrace how sodium chloride is transformative in cooking.
Adjacent to Pomegranate Bistro, the catering kitchen is a labyrinth of stainless steel, storage and commercial sized accoutrement.
Catering staff has a view of the restaurant through square panes and vice versa.
A seven course tasting menu paired by Mark Bitterman and Lisa Dupar.
Rimmed with carbonated black takesumi bamboo salt, a spicy Bloody Mary apéritif greeted us.
Rows of tables were orientated to the preparation area where chefs plated our food.
Mark was as charming and engaging as I remembered. He spoke with passion and humour about the history of salt, and the composition and flavour profiles of our samples.
Coral coloured and glistening, the salmon was cured by being pressed between two Himalayan pink salt blocks. The gravlax had a firm texture and was absent of the sliminess that sometimes afflict cured fish.
Soft slices of house made bread were smeared with butter and sprinkled with fleur de sel. The sweetness of the butter accentuated the moist crystals and delicate crunch.
The pretty flake salts were savoured on rice cake with carrot, avocado and black sesame salad. A flat disc with a crispy edge, the plain rice cake was perfect for comparing the salts. I love the elegance of Murray River flake salt, a parochial favourite. The charcoal pyramids of the Black Diamond was bold and earthy. From Anglesey, the current home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the oak smoked salt had an intense aroma.
The highlight of the evening was Juan’s chilli relleno with Molokai red salt. A popular family meal at Pomegranate Bistro and Lisa Dupar Catering, a whole poblano pepper was roasted, stuffed, battered and deep-fried. Garnished with guacamole and tomato sauce, the cheesy filling laced with the heat of the pepper was rustic comfort food. From the volcanic clays of Hawaii, the mineral elements of the Molokai red salt brightened the chilli relleno.
Blushed strips of Painted Hills beef were on a bed of mashed celeriac and topped with threads of sweet potato. The luscious sel gris complimented the meatiness.
A bowl of Kauai guava smoked salt.
Dessert was burnt caramel cheesecake with salted pecan crust adorned with fresh blueberries and a white chocolate curl. Unfortunately this was too salty for me.
Mark recommended flake salt, fleur de sel and sel gris as the foundation set for the pantry. Which salt to use? Consider if the intent is chemical, seasoning or visual. The final advice was ‘don’t grind salt’!
I’m always nervous suggesting European restaurants to our French friends. Thankfully we loved the cosy ambience and homely fare of Dinette. I hummed the tune of ‘Four Seasons In One Day‘ by Crowded House all day. Snow, sleet, wind, rain. Repeat. There were moments of brilliant light, silver beams refracted off pewter clouds.
On Olive Way in Capitol Hill, Dinette’s seasonal menu has French, Italian and Spanish flavours.
Two adjoining rooms split the bar and dining areas. Powdered blue walls were accented by a cluster of serving trays. Tangerine damask lamps and glassybaby votive candles lit the counter.
A vertical piano was in the back of the dining room and Casey MacGill entertained us with the rhythmic melodies of swing jazz.
Neutral walls and embellished pillars, I adore the simple elegance of the décor.
A functional chalkboard listed the specials in block writing.
Infused with bergamot, the Earl Grey martini was a zesty apéritif.
We shared terrine and toasts as appetizers. A slice of rabbit, pistachio and bacon terrine was paired with grained mustard and pickled rhubarb. My aversion of rabbit continues and I had one bite of the terrine spread on crostini.
A three by four grid of toasts were presented on a wooden paddle. From left to right: prosciutto, croque monsieur and pesto. My favourite was the pesto, molten Beecher’s Flagship and spicy pickled peppers.
Ms S had the rainbow trout with French lentils, ruby chard and lemon aioli which was pleasingly fresh.
A generous portion, the spaghetti carbonara was tossed with bacon, peas and topped with an organic egg yolk. Mr S twirled a forkful for me to taste and it was a robust pasta.
An apt dish for March, Ms LM’s lamb was braised in Guinness, on a pillow of mashed rutabaga, leeks and peas, and garnished with grated horseradish.
I ordered the crispy skin chicken thighs. The butterflied dark meat was well seasoned, and the cauliflower purée was creamy and sweet.
The second terrine of the meal was Valrhona chocolate with whipped cream and nut brittle.
Our dessert was a retro bread pudding with raisins soaked in Tuaca, a dollop of whipped cream and drizzled with caramel sauce.
Quality ingredients, cooked splendidly!
Mr S has Scottish ancestry and we travelled through the countryside several years ago. I fell in love with the fields of heather, the glens (valleys), lochs (lakes), bens (mountains) and castles, the lilting accents, and the hearty Scottish fare. Every village, town and city honoured its history and were blessed with natural beauty.
The Palace Ballroom was set up with round tables and a handful of bar tables. A slideshow of Scottish scenery was projected on screens, although it was morbidly paused on a photo of gravestones for a while. A trio of musicians entertained us on a platform.
We perched on bar stools and sipped an apéritif of Rusty Nail which is a cocktail of Johnnie Walker and Drambuie garnished with a lemon twist.
We feasted on a menu and Scotch pairings by Dahlia Lounge chef Brock Johnson.
Our table was cluttered with glassware and silverware.
Dahlia Bakery scones were first and we mused if they would be American biscuits or British scones. A napkin in a weaved basket cushioned two ‘scones’ that were sweet flat squares of crumbly dough.
A square plate was layered with yoghurt, smoked trout and toast, and dotted with steelhead roe. The intense smokiness of the fish was tempered by the creamy yoghurt. The accompanying Scotch was a 12 year old Glenkinchie from the Lowlands.
A thin wedge of Black Sheep Creamery St Helen was served with a mini oatcake, slices of apple and a blob of apple jelly. I preferred the syrupy jelly with the washed rind cheese than the tart fruit. This dish was teamed with a 15 year old Dalwhinnie from the Highlands.
Two rare medallions of venison loin were veiled by a mound of black trumpet mushrooms and dressed with Douglas fir jus. The meaty flavours were balanced by the peaty 14 year old Oban from the west coast.
We stood while the piper led the haggis procession. A gentleman with a Scottish accent recited a lively rendition of Burns’ Address to A Haggis.
Ye Pow’rs, wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o’ fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu’ prayer
Gie her a haggis!
Diced offal, minced onion, oatmeal and seasoning were mixed with stock and stuffed in a sheep’s stomach. The haggis was pierced and boiled. The casing was cut at the crescendo of the poem and the savoury filling was eaten with mashed neeps (parsnips) and tatties (potatoes). A robust sixteen year old Lagavulin from the Isle of Islay was complementary.
The final course was sticky toffee pudding, Macallan caramel sauce and smoked cherry ice cream. A deceptively light sponge cake, this classic dessert was rich and toothsome. The last Scotch was a twelve year old Macallan from Speyside.
It was a cheerful evening warmed by a wee dram (or five!). To good health, slàinte mhòr!
It snowed in Whistler on Christmas Day and I loved it. Snowflakes zigzagged gently from the sky and dusted every surface. I was delighted with my first white Christmas. The powdered slopes were serene and the magic carpet was quiet. We skied in the morning and relaxed in the afternoon.
Survivor like torches guarded the entrance of the restaurant.
A cascade of glass globes were strung together as a sparkling chandelier.
The interior was warm and welcoming. On the far left was a champagne bar and Belvedere Ice Room. The main dining room was buzzing with families and friends celebrating Christmas. We were seated at a table with a view of the busy kitchen. Service was traditional fine dining style with a cocktail cart, sommelier and a plethora of staff.
Enticed by the cocktail cart, we ordered apéritifs as we composed our three courses. The bartender was a little absent minded. Ms S asked for recommendations for a refreshing cocktail and he referred her to the menu. Intrigued by dehydrated beer as an ingredient, Mr L ordered a Caesar. Unbeknown to our group of Australians, Caesar is a Canadian cocktail with Clamato juice which was not listed. We had the same expression after one sip each and it was abandoned.
An amuse bouche of salmon tartare whetted our appetite.
My first course was arctic char. From left to right: gravlax and celeriac, tartare and blini, and smoked and sorrel. Similar texture and milder flavour to salmon and trout, the morsels were perfectly paired.
Photographing was a challenge in the dim lighting! Ms S selected the Pemberton beets and carrots with shaved ricotta salata, spicy greens and white balsamic. It was artistically presented and I sampled a lump of white beet which was sugary.
The gentlemen had the wild mushroom soup with truffles. Poured at the table, the soup was a thick liquid with an earthy aroma.
A tangy citrus granita was the palate cleanser between courses.
The sommelier recommended a local wine, Foxtrot 2008 Pinot Noir. It was a classic match for our game main courses.
Three rare slices of Yarrow Meadows duck breast rested on a plump duck confit ravioli, squash purée, cauliflower florets, beets and pumpkin seeds. The dish was well seasoned and the meat tender, and the components were a delectable combination.
Mr S chose the wild game tasting plate of wild boar wrapped in venison and braised bison short rib with wild mushroom and heirloom bean ragoût. The other couple picked the chef’s Christmas special of goose.
We spotted a cheese cart and the fromage expert was friendly and helpful. We shared a bleu, a local cheddar and a semi soft, with raisins, candied walnuts, fig jam and crisp fruit bread.
I was determined to photograph dessert and I persisted with the single flickering candle as my light source. Served on a slate plate, the geometrical coconut and pineapple had frozen coconut mousse, Meyer lemon and kafir lime sorbet, pineapple and espelette jelly, rum caramel macadamia and cilantro. It tasted like a sophisticated piña colada!
A deconstructed St Honoré was a log of vanilla crème chiboust, coffee Chantilly, crispy malt Irish cream and brown butter milk jam.
On a rectangle of bourbon cake, the apple and caramel had a wheel of salted caramel maple parfait, apple pavé sour cream ice cream and crumbled bacon.
Petit fours concluded our Christmas dinner. From left to right: nougat, peppermint bark, ginger snap and hazelnut ganache.
It was a fun festive season in Whistler!
The same week of the Sharone Hakman and SousVide Supreme demonstration and tasting, Myra tweeted a Rue La La deal. I only had fried chicken in mind when I paid twenty five dollars for fifty dollars value in food and beverages at Tavern Law.
Twelfth Avenue on Capitol Hill was buzzing on a Friday evening. By the owners of Spur Gastropub, Tavern Law celebrates the history of the speakeasy during the prohibition era. A vintage typewriter greets us at the entrance and it’s a charming space within.
A mural of an elegant lady in a floral blue dress grace the wall and a roulette wheel hangs at the bar.
A built-in bookshelf and gilded mirror complete the décor.
In an effort to cool down and be presentable after the humid ascent, I sat inside and gulped glasses of water while waiting for Ms S.
I stared at the scratched vault door and wall mounted rotary dial telephone, pondering their purpose. After much squinting, I read ‘Needle and Thread’ on the framed sign. After observing several people lingering nervously by the phone, I realised Needle and Thread is Tavern Law’s homage to the speakeasy!
Ignoring the creased paper the food menu is printed on, I perused the extensive drinks booklet, appreciating the explanation of cocktail terms like sling and sour.
We moved to a table on the sidewalk to enjoy the beautiful late summer weather. The English gin fizz with Earl Grey infused gin, lemon and honey was a refreshing apéritif.
We ordered a plate of fried chicken each. It was a sight to behold – two golden crusted portions perched atop a bed of mashed potatoes. Cooked sous vide and then deep fried, the light and crispy skin protected the tender and juicy meat. The coating had a slight sweetness that balanced the savoury protein and creamy starch.
The service was a little haphazard, so much so that our bill was delivered without being asked about a second drink or dessert.