here and there

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Dining with Edible British Columbia- Granville Island Market

With great anticipation, we looked forward to this dining experience.  From the web site we gleaned the following expectations.

Join us – and BC’s Best Chefs – for a gourmet feast in an incredibly unique and iconic setting – Granville Island Public Market, after-hours. Enjoy a multicourse market-inspired dinner with sommelier selected wine pairings in an intimate venue that is unlike any other in the province.

What can you expect? A chance to spend an interactive evening with a professional and well-known chef, a multicourse meal prepared in front of your eyes, BC’s top wines paired with each course, black linens and candlelight in the working market after hours, gracious serving staff and hosts.

Your chef will prepare seasonally inspired sumptuous dishes while you watch, taste and enjoy. Since the goal of the evening is just to relax and enjoy the experience, we will email you a copy of the recipes and wine pairings from the night along with photos documenting the food and evening.

Each night is limited to only 20 guests.

The tables were set up in the hallway next to the edible British Columbia kiosk after the market was closed.  A limousine had brought a party from the suburbs to celebrate a birthday party and the number seemed more than 20.

Amuse bouche or “mouth amuser “was cured salmon served on a deep fried wonton wrapper with fresh horse radish and juniper berries on the plate as garnish.  After some of us had popped in a couple of berries, we were told they were inedible as might cause stomach upsets!   The vodka-cured salmon with grated fresh horseradish was delicious, although the cold soggy wonton crisp was not!  This tidbit did offer what the chef had in store, use of juniper berries and other aromatic spices.

The martini was attractive to look at with its pale peach colour.  I was excited to try it as I had seem Jamie Oliver make tomato water on his show where he smashed sun ripen heirloom tomatoes and let the juices drip through cheese cloth.   Having grown up on sun ripen tomatoes, I eagerly tasted this only to have a bitter over powering taste hide the taste of the tomato water!   What a disappointment! I could not finish the drink, as could not others!

Butter poached spot prawn with heirloom beans clam, bacon

Sous-vide (pronounced /suːˈviːd/), French for "under vacuum" is a method of cooking food sealed in airtight plastic bags in a water bath for a long time.  The shrimp had been cooked first then reheated in butter.  I question this method for shrimp as they cook so quickly as they did tend to be rubbery and tasteless.. There was a lot of hype regarding the darkest brown and beige Heirloom beans, that were not locally grown but in fact dried and from Italy.  Although they provided colour, they did not provide any flavour to the dish.  Although interesting addition was spiced Tomato Orb, the end result was biting into a cold gelatine like balls of V-8 juice.  Cherry tomatoes were suggested in place of tomato orbs and would have added more flavour.  Although, the presentation was lovely, it photographed better than it tasted. 
The wine paired with this was a sparkling white wine

Smoked qualicum scallops and chanterelles.

These pump scallops were smoked with cherrywood, then sautéed in butter.  Chanterelles were also sautéed in butter. 
The bay foam was potato and bay leaves that had been boiled and then put through a blender then along with cream put into an ISI container. Again, although the scallops were chosen, as no phosphate added, the scallop was rubbery and tough, and did not have the creamy rich taste.  Although the use of a pressurised canister was unique, The texture was not thick like whip cream out of these canisters and quickly disappeared on the plate.  Although all of the ingredients work together, they were not tied in with the potato foam. 
The drink pared with this was a syrupy pear wine. 

Birch syrup and pepper glazed venison, celery root , black  garlic truffle  sauce.

The venison was marinated in port, raspberry vinegar, garlic, ginger, bay leaves, rosemary and thyme for 2 –3 days. Sous vide was the method used to bring the venison to raw, then finished off to medium raw just before serving.
All the drippings in the sauté pan were combined with birch syrup.  Fermented garlic was used along with sautéed shallots and added to vinaigrette of truffle oil, apple juice and mustard.  The venison was excellent and all the flavours worked well with the meat!  The fermented garlic, which is from California, did not over power the vinaigrette.  The birch syrup, which one could buy, was a dark brown and less sweet than maple syrup with slight bittersweet notes sold for $29 for a litre. .

For the dessert, the chef made ice cream flavoured with Thai basil by using dry ice (solid carbon dioxide) as the cooling agent and also adding dramatic flare in making the ice cream.

The colour of the ice cream due to the basil was a lovely green along with a strong flavour and although everyone like the play of this dish by added different toppings to the ice cream, none of the toppings complement the flavour of basil.

With the new drinking laws in BC, one of the patrons had previously requested a non-alcohol paring for his meal as well as I did not drink any of the heavily oaked wines.  This was disappointing as I really think there should be other options for those that were not drinking.  Having a mouse run through the room to feed on the crumbs from the cottage pies cooler was also most unappetising.  Overall, the chef use of multiple aromatics tended to take away from the freshness of the products at hand, only a robust game meat like venison could handle all the flavours added with out being over taken by them. 

Overall it was positive experience as it was great to see the chef explain his preparation and watch him execute the dishes for his guests.
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