January 14, 2013

l’Ordre Mondial
Brasserie Kensington

January 14, 2013

The streets were slushy and quiet, as Calgary l’Ordre Mondial members made their way to the side entrance of Brasserie Kensington.  Greeted with a hushed, “State your business…”, they responded, “I’m here for the meeting of the Calgary Carpenter’s Union,” as they had been instructed.  Admittance was granted, and guests were greeted by staff costumed in the fashions of the Prohibition Era, handed a mighty fine Negroni, and ushered into the restaurant.  Many had come in costumes themselves, and a fine evening of entertainment began. Before long, the joint was jumpin’.

Cam Dobranski and his staff had gone the extra mile to make this a memorable event.  Young chefs in snappy hats worked continuously in the open kitchen, sending out platter after platter of delicious hors d’oeuvres.  Bartender (and General Manager) Mathew Leslie shook and poured a seemingly endless succession of interesting cocktails, so busy that it was nearly impossible to snap his photo without getting a blurred image. The food and drinks had been based on recipes from the 1920s Prohibition Era, but prepared using modern ingredients and methods.  Wines for the evening had been chosen from wineries that survived Prohibition by taking advantage of a loophole in the law that permitted production of wine for religious purposes, or through sheer determination and perseverance.

Confit Fingerling Potato, Alberta Lamb Rillette, Sauce Hollandaise
Anchovy & Squid Ink Caviar, Buttermilk Crème Fraiche, Chopped Egg, Blini
Wild Sockeye Salmon Mousse, Preserved Lemon, Dill Cream
Roasted Brome Lake Duck Breast, Duck Prosciutto, Brandied Apple and Parmesan

Rhubarb Old Fashioned
Barrel-aged “Brasserie” Negroni
Champagne Julip

2010 Beringer Private Reserve Chardonnay
2010 Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

In the more relaxed atmosphere of l’Ordre Mondial events, there was plenty of time to visit.  The Barley Hep Cats, with vocalist Clay, had toes tapping, and people on the edges of the crowd just barely containing the urge to dance.

At the table, menus had been prepared to mimic a newssheet, with a write-up covering a “bust” of the event (no names were named), and a cautionary article advising the public to avoid the consumption of bootleg whiskey.  Bathtub gin was not on offer, but plenty of unique mixed drinks accompanied delicious courses.  Service was superb:  each course was quietly identified to the diner by their server as it was presented.  Seating was cozy at this well-attended event, and service staff deserved extra praise for their pleasant and professional demeanor.

Atlantic Lobster Waldorf Salad, Walnut, Apple, Vanilla Vinaigrette, Bitter Greens
Green Chartreuse Sour

Duck, Foie Gras & Perigord Truffle Consommé, Butter Puff Pastry Cap
2008 Marchesi di Barolo Barbaresco

Beef Cheek “Pot Roast”, Oxtail Ravioli, Turned Vegetables, Horseradish, Braising Jus
Cherry Brandy Fizz

Digestif:  Francis Darroze 20 year Armagnac
Smoked Almonds with Cumin, Pistachio Massé, Toasted Pecans

Dessert Buffet:

Fruit Jellies, Coffee Cake, Rumballs, Crème Caramel

As dinner concluded, and people prepared to mix and mingle while sampling all the dessert offerings, Vice Echanson Patricia Koyich voiced the praise and gratitude of the members of l’Ordre Mondial to Cam Dobranski and his staff.  Everyone had enjoyed the opportunity to participate in this event, and the chance to reflect on the legacy of the Prohibition Era.

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