February 20, 2011

Diner Amical – Belgo Brasserie – Sunday, February 20, 2011

Our first event of 2011 was held on the Alberta Family Day long weekend.  It was cool (-14C) and breezy (20 km/h wind).  However, the red carpet had been rolled out for our arrival.  I regret not taking a photograph of it, but the necessity to escape the cold was more important.

The reception tables were decorated with a dark chocolate cloth covering and featured a coffee bean filled vase with a pair of Chaîne flags flanking a half-dozen tulips and a single spider mum in its centre.

We were greeted by Maître d‘, Josh of Belgo and a number of servers with the all-important reception beverages and Mise en Bouche.

Featured this evening were a Hamachi Tartar (yellowtail tuna) topped with a Togarashi fried Quail egg and accompanied with Stiegl Radler, a low alcohol grapefruit flavoured beer.  The other delight was a Foie Gras Torchon with roasted pear on a brioche toast and paired with Beni di Batasiolo Moscato d’Asti.

he reception allowed everyone to catch up with events over the past two months, since our Chapitre last December.

We then headed for the dining area.  The rectangular tables were set with a chocolate coloured table cloth and featured a runner of golden brown which in turn was bordered by a pair of smaller burgundy runners.

The table settings were very simple, but the plates used for the service throughout the meal were exceptional in their variety and were used to great effect in highlighting the various courses.  Our first course was a BC Spot Prawn Ravioli served over a giant Alaskan scallop and accompanied with a puré of sweet peas and house bacon.  This was paired with a 2009 Viognier from the Simpson Vineyard operated by the Miner Winery in Napa Valley.  The Viognier proved to be the perfect complement to the dish.

Course number two was a Miso Roasted Pickerel served with edamame beans, shaved fennel and miso aioli.  The fish was oven roasted to release the natural oils of it and the miso, which resulted in a gorgeously crisp skin.  The course was paired with a Mom Hefeweizen Belgian-style blonde ale from Rogue Brewery out of Newport, Oregon.  It is an unfiltered ale with a trace of coriander and ginger flavor.

Our l’entremets was a Cucumber and Spearmint water served with a lychee cucumber ice, candied ginger and a cucumber mango sphere.  It was very refreshing.  As an added touch, the spoon holder was a piece of cucumber that had been notched to secure the spoon and its precious contents.

Le quatrieme service was maple butter poached Nagano Pork Tenderloin sourced from Quebec.  It was topped with St Andre triple crème Brie and a few Macintosh apple “frites” and underlain by a bed of truffled lentils.  This was served with a 2005 Pernand Vergelesses from Mongeard-Mugneret  – a great pairing.  Apparently, this dish was Shaun’s silver medal winner at the Gold Medal Plates competition.  Shaun is also becoming known as the “Silver Fox” as he has won silver at this competition on two prior occasions.

Then, the main course arrived.  This turned out to be a very unique and complex presentation.  The centerpiece was a grilled Hanger steak cut from the diaphragm of a steer.  It was served with a gremolata-crusted veal marrow half-bone.  Accompanying these were caramelized cippolini onions, pickled chanterelle mushrooms and a purée of celery root.  The starch was a purée of yams dried over bubble paper to give a very unique honeycomb texture.  There was also a wedge of baguette that was to be used to scrape the bone marrow from the bone.  A delicious Brunello di Montalcino, 2003 from Terrasole was served as the wine pairing.

he dessert was a four-fold treat.  To the left was a rose water and Lychee Macaroon over a Kafir lime jelly.  On the right was a torched meringue with a few raspberries and blueberries.  Then, the centerpiece.  A chocolate sugar foam topped with the best chocolate Rice Crispie stick that our table had ever tasted!  To help the enjoyment of the dessert was a Nutty Solera Oloroso, NV.

“La Finale” turned out to be some delicious Fruli (strawberry beer) jellies, paired with chocolate hazelnut lollypops and served on a sugar tray which was topped with the Chaîne emblazon.

Our plates were presented to Ashish Damle, the Executive Chef and Josh Johnson, Belgo’s amiable Maître d‘.

In all, this was an excellent start to the 2011 dining season and it set a high standard for the forthcoming events.

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