The Petroleum Club
“Where The Wild Things Are”
Saturday, April 21, 2012
The Chaine in Calgary always anticipates a Dîner Amical at the Petroleum Club with the certain knowledge that we will be in for a treat. Executive Chef Liana Robberecht is renowned for her creativity in planning and execution; Food and Beverage Manager Toni-Marie Ion-Brown is a paragon of professionalism in her attention to detail; the generosity and hospitality of Rod Thomas and Ted Clouthier form a team that have provided excellent events in years past. “Where The Wild Things Are” was a stellar addition to their legacy.
The reception featured Bad Girl Crémant de Bordeaux, crisp and dry, that complimented the well-appointed oyster bar (always a favorite with our members), with hors d’oeuvres of Salmon Rillettes on Ambrosia Apple, and Crispy Sweetbreads on a house-made sweet Thai chili sauce. Gentle background music by guitarist Clay O’Flanagan, of the Barley Hepcats, completed the welcoming ambiance.
We moved to the dining room, where tables were set with accents of blue, and centerpieces of live fennel, lettuces and purple basil. The menus were stunning, beautifully illustrated, with quotations that provided food for thought to accompany each course. Of special note were the butters at each place setting; whipped fresh butter, another flavored with strawberry rose, and a third with essence of Douglas Fir and honey.
All courses were introduced by well-prepared servers at each table. Each table also had its own wine steward, who knowledgeably described each beverage.
Our dinner began with West Coast Spot Prawns on Ocean “Slaw”, served in a seaweed shell and accompanied by a pipette of dressing. The prawns were accompanied by chilled Yoshi no Gawa Sake Goku-jo, an unconventional choice that set the tone for the evening.
“When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.”
There followed Seared Fresh Sunshine Coast Sturgeon, dusted with spices, with Infused Vanilla Bean Canola Oil, Watercress Puree, and Tomato Petals. The sturgeon was “captured” under a graceful choux-paste net. Treana White 2007, a Californian blend of Viogonier and Marsanne,supported the flavors of the dish.
“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”
Next we enjoyed Pheasant and Escargot Lollies with Wild Mushroom sauce. The whimsical presentation of the lollies “planted” in a patch of wheatgrass delighted the eye in prelude to pleasing the palate. We were advised to enjoy the Central Pinot Noir 2009 (and we did), as we were not likely to encounter it anywhere else, due to its limited production and selective distribution.
“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.”
As the flavors continued to build, our noses were enticed by the aroma of Fire-Grilled Wild Boar Sausage with Braised Iberico Cheek Cassoulet, the stuff of campfire suppers upscaled to new heights. Garnacha Vinas Viejas 2006 from Las Rocas, Spain, had a heart big enough to embrace the rich flavors.
“The sky is the daily bread of the eyes”.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
A short respite followed with a palate cleanser of Darjeeling Tea, partnered with Finger Lime “Caviar” and Cassis Droplets, a pretty plate with a burst of citrus.
“The soil in return for her service keeps the tree tied to her,
the sky asks nothing and leaves it free.”
The main arrived with skillful tableside carving of Hay-Roasted Alberta Lamb Loin, which was placed on Wedge Farms Cavena Oats Risotto. Perfectly roasted lamb, scented with hay and lavender, was well paired with a robust Bordeaux, Chateau Sainte-Pierre 2003.
“The repetition in nature may not be a mere recurrence. It may be a theatrical ‘encore’.”
The cheese course included a House-Made Fresh Cow’s Milk Cheese, scented with the cedar on which it was served, as well as Le Sorcier de Missisquoi, Rogue Creamery Oregon Blue, and a tiny Chevre Grilled Cheese sandwich that was a novel addition, and a delight. Domanie de Vaufuget Vouvray 2010 accompanied the course.
“Never a daisy grows but a mystery guides the growing.”
We are always delighted when Pastry Chef Otto guides our senses to a pleasing sweet to finish the meal. A treat for the eye as well as the palate, we enjoyed a Spiced Caramel Cake, finished to resemble a tree branch and decorated with an artfully-piped chocolate leaf and adorned with a whimsical marzipan ladybug. Bruléed oranges added a refreshing note. The unusual Maple Whiskey “Cabin Fever”, served on the rocks and reduce in the sauce, was a smooth and satisfying treat.
“The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.”
We are so grateful that Chef Otto and his well-trained brigade continues to delight us with his beautiful sugar work and selection of Friandise to finish the meal.
“Water is the driving force of all nature”.
Leonardo da Vinci
The Petroleum Club is to be commended for the excellent performance of their entire team. This was hospitality at its finest. Plates were awarded to Assistant Pastry Chef Pamela Hagel, and Food and Beverage Supervisor Franz Papuschek. Thanks to all for an evening that was a paragon of planning and execution, from both the kitchen and service staff.