Well…it started with a concert by a friend of mine who turned a special age that night (YOU DON’T SAY THE AGE). Late at night two days before I found out there was no birthday cake for her, so I scrambled, and came up with a great plan…at least I think so, since it came off perfect, and was pretty damn theatrical! I go up on stage (unexpected to her, but normal for me) and give a short little speech which was the cue to bring UP the lights and light the candles. As her attention was drawn to me, she wouldn’t see the lighting of the candles. Then as I start Happy Birthday, the cake comes out, and the lights go out. NOW she knows something is up and turns around, and the cake comes in… Then it’s served!
(The photo isn’t the best…but I was shooting with one hand, while singing behind the mic!)
I really do need to once again thank all the staff for ALL their help in this…and remembering their cues! 🙂 They didn’t have time to get the cake done, so I made it, and they were SO gracious in allowing me to bring it in to serve, and handled the cake with care!
Fast Forward about 14 hours… it’s a dinner for her… but she didn’t REALLY know that at the time. I have 2 friends who own a beautiful home 30 minutes from me. I’ve tried to have them down here for a few years for a meal, but they haven’t been able to due to many things…work and kids… So they invited me up! Since it was the day after my dear friend (of 15 years) Birthday…I themed it a bit more towards her. A lot of the flavours of the dishes were things that we have shared over the years…only ONE is roughly the same dish…but many of the flavours of different dishes… I had another friend of mine join us as well…
So, the first course was an Amuze Bouche (amuse your mouth)… essentially a small bite that would foretell most of the rest of the tastes in the meal. It was albacore tuna loin as a ceviche with dill, red onion, cilantro, lemon and lime, and capers.
(Photo: Mandy Lau)
Course 2 was a cold cucumber soup with green pepper, cilantro, a squeeze of lime, little Apple cider vinegar and a little cracked black (Hawaiian) salt on top. The air bubbles in it from blending made it a much lighter bite, and the salt brought out a certain freshness in the ingredients that you wouldn’t expect! It acted as a palate cleanser.
(Photo: Mandy Lau)
The 3rd course was a little more intense. We’ve named it: “Asian style fish and chips”. It’s sort of a trio… On the left of the photo, you have albacore sashimi on top of black garlic (see last post), the right is a bed of deep friend shoestring sweet potatoes with a malt vinegar reduction, 2 poached quail eggs, and a small scoop of caviar. Served along side of a scratch made dashi broth (the step BEFORE making miso soup) with scallions and a boiled crawfish.
(Photos: Mandy Lau)
The crawfish boil was more of an intermediate dish…tying this and the next course together… and of course…the next we didn’t get a photo of…but it was a homemade dumpling with roast corn and shrimp…sort of a deconstructed Louisiana crawfish boil… served on a lingonberry sauce…
Then…after all this… the main course! Beef Burgionon. 3 types of beef. Regular stewing beef, Wagyu beef (NOT KOBE…if you see KOBE* in Canada…it’s NOT real, except ONE place in Montreal**…), and Wild Boar. With the help of Brett, I smoked the wild boar, and seared the others as normal in this recipe. Added the wine to deglaze the pan, and added more to the pot with the carrots, onions, heirloom tomatoes, tomato paste and celery.
The wild boar was added at the end to add a little smokeyness and a different texture…
This was served alongside a mushroom risotto, made from a wild-foraged (dried) 3 mushroom mix from Ontario, started with the soaking water, then adding vegetable stock as needed. Real Italian Parmigiano-Reggiano at the end… served family style…
Before Serving (Photo: Mandy Lau)
After Serving (Photo: Mandy Lau)
This was ALL capped off with a very special dessert that I created especially for this night…
It was a trio of desserts. The first was a Coconut and Cognac Ice Cream, with a roasted walnut. The second was a Pinot Grigio (Birthday girls favourite) Wine Ice Cream with rose petals and lavender. (Wine and roses…for a birthday…WHY NOT!) Served with two small pieces of chocolate coffee cake. Because…birthday = cake! Now…It’s hard to see, but my birthday friend is a mandolin player…so I cut the cake into little guitar picks!
(Photo: Mandy Lau)
All in all…I think this came off AMAZINGLY! The prep time wasn’t nearly as much as what I thought… other than actually making the black garlic***, this could all be prepped in just a few hours…and most can be done AS you’re making other courses. You just need to know when to start what…and have a plan that you’ve gone over… over and over again. I’ve been planning this for months, fixing and changing as I go… I DID cut a few things from the meal on the fly, but only because it would have changed the taste of certain things, or made some things to sweet as I went along. That’s the key to something like this, even though you plan for months…you STILL need to be adaptable on the fly.
I LOVED doing this, I think the meal came off great! I CANNOT wait to do something like this again! This was a lot of fun!
*Kobe beef come from Wagyu…but is MUCH different. It’s the same species, but handled much different. Kobe is rare and from Japan (Canada JUST got it’s first license to import). Waygu (the species) is available from a few places. I get mine from New Zealand. I can’t compare them since I haven’t had both, but I can say it IS more marbled than regular beef…but less than Kobe (as I’ve seen in photos). *
**at least at the time of this post. I HAVE heard there may be another restaurant getting a license for it soon… **
*** That takes about 9 days to make at home…but you really only have to think about it after day 7… the rest of the time it’s just…on it’s own, doing it’s thing***
ALSO note, I didn’t add *spices* (Earlier post said recipes!) to this. * I did add herbs, but no salt or anything except for the cracked black salt in the cold cucumber soup. * Let me know if you want them, I can easily do that…but it would make this single post too long…