Sunday, November 27, 2005

La Chronique , Montreal

Montreal: La Chronique

Well to be quite frank I didn’t think that it would be that expensive. When my more affluent friend Nick heard I had made a reservation he looked at me and said “Really? That’s expensive!”. I knew I was into trouble. But, when you're on the sinking ship you might as well have at it, so we each ordered a degustation with wine (145$/person) .. We could have gone either more expensive (degustation with super wine, 195$/person) or lower (degust with no wine, $95). The menu items were in the mid 30’s for mains and high teens for apps. What follows are from my incomplete notes, from a meal a week and a half ago.

-1) Oysters. 2 per person, I don’t remember what the garnishes were but reading the online menu now I see that they are “nature”. They were laid out on a bed of sel gris with a decorative branch. Beautiful presentation, and they were lovely oysters.

-2) Seared tuna with tempura shrimp. Incomplete notes, I remember that umm.. tuna is endangered, even good quality tuna like this.

-3) Sweetbreads with smoked salmon. I’ve had good sweetbreads. And now, I’ve had spectacular sweetbreads. Spectacular sweetbreads with corn and a spectacular creamy curry sauce, texturally a beautiful combination with the smoked salmon which was delicately delicious in it’s own right. (2004 St Joseph, Marsan Blend… a beautiful wine, so well balanced)

-4)Foie gras with wild mushroom risotto and veal jus. Loved the foie. Risotto was toothsome and flavorful, I would have preferred a bit softer. And yes I understand that traditionally risotto should be toothsome. We meet our soon to be friend veal jus (really a demi glace… glace de veau?)

-5) Venison, celery root mash, Wild mushrooms. Again, a beauty of a dish. We are starting to get full now and pretty tipsy.. probably at least 3-4 oz of wine per course. More veal jus. (Toasted Head, Alexander Valley, Cab Sauv.. it’s a big wine, it’s delicious, it’s a bit overpowering)

-6) Onion soup with Tome cheese. I don’t remember much about this dish, it was a big portion, no one could finish it.. well I did, but I just had to. (2002 white rioja)

-7) Chocolate dessert selection. My God this was just tooo much. 4 different mini desserts including: Daquoise, a dense mousse, a very very good brownie cake with caramelized bananas on top.
(Solera Reserva, Lustau(sp?), Sherry.. umm just tooo bloody sweet an cloying. Should have been cold and a half portion. no, should have been a different wine)

It was a lovely if very expensive dinner. I’m tempted to gripe about veal jus but will refrain. I will refrain from saying that I would like something more than 2 servings of veal jus in a row, delicious unctuous veal jus, in a degustation. We all have healthy appetites and felt that there was too much in the way of food and too much in the way of wine. Give me a 110$ price tag, Take away an oz of wine in each serving, 2 oz of the dessert wine AND a different dessert wine, two desserts instead of four and give me a half sized cheese course.
It should be noted that for those of us with a Star Trek or mall fetish, they have a glass sensor controlled door from the dining room to the kitchen.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

stir fried cabbage

Stir fried cabbage

Take 1/4 of a large nappa cabbage and cut into 2”strips, separating the harder white bits from the green leafy bits. Sprinkle with 1 tsp white sugar.
Heat 2 Tbsp peanut oil in a large frying pan on high and add a few whole dried chilies (totally up to you how many. Or at all), frying until they puff a bit and darken in colour, add 2 cloves roughly chopped garlic and stir. Add the harder white cabbage bits and stir often for about 45 seconds to a minute. It should de sizzling quite a bit by now.
Add the cabbage leafy part and stir in about 3/4 tbsp soy and a bit more sugar.
Taste and add more soy / sugar , if necessary.

Frying the chilies is a smoky procedure. Best to open a window when doing this.
Also good with a splash of vinegar in it.

Pork Curry

Pork and bamboo shoots

2 medium pork chops, bone in, cut into 6 or so pieces each
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp shrimp paste
2 Tbsp peanut oil
1/2 Tbsp sambal olek
1/2 Tbsp Sriracha sauce
1 Tbsp fermented soybean and chili sauce
1/2 to 1 Tbsp Chinese soy
1 Tbsp Thai pickled garlic cloves
2 cups bamboo shoot tip ( mine were in a vac sealed package), cut to manageable size.

Mix the pork and the sugar.
On mediun high, heat the shrimp paste and oil in a heavy bottomed fying pan. When it is sizzling happily, stir well with a wooden spoon to break it apart, then add the sambal and sriracha. Stir fry 20 seconds then turn the heat to high and add the pork, cooking on all sides until well coloured. Add the rest of the ingredients and 1 to 2 cups water. Cover and reduce heat. Simmer 20-30 minutes until tender and the sauce has reduced, the fat should emulsify into the sauce. Add more sugar if you think it needs it. Serve with a simple veg side dish and plain rice.
Have the feeling it would be good with peanuts as well.
I was trying to find an herb to pair with this dish and didn’t want to put coriander (because I use coriander on everything, and still always manage to have a rotten bunch in the fridge).. does anyone have any suggestions..?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Squash Pachadi

This was sinfully good.. almost dessert.

2 cups hubbard or other squash, cut into 1" cubes
1 Tbsp peanut oil or ghee
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/4-1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1 cup bio yogurt

Heat the oil and fry the cumin and mustard seeds until they pop and splutter. Add the squash, reduce the heat to low and add the salt and sugar. Cook, covered until the squash is soft but not too mushy. Let cool then add the yogurt and serve.
This is a great side dish with rice... really stellar.