Charlie Burger http://www.charliesburgers.ca/
It’s secretive. It’s magical. It’s one of those nights that stays with you long after. The location is hidden until moments before the dinner. Directions like “go see the man on the wine barrel, tell him your name and he will instruct you to your final destination” are emailed a day before. After speaking to the gentlemen, I’m informed of a nearby restaurant where the event is taking place. Walking into the venue I am warmly welcomed into a crowd of people who all share the same passion – food. A luxurious, Turkey 10year old reserve batch bourbon with sweet orange rind appears in my hand, as I search for a table. Tonight Agata Felugga and Delphine Zampetti, from Le Chateaubriand in France, have created a whimsical but sophisticated menu, offering local (and French) seasonal ingredients.
To start, trout roe bursts with brine, meets a milky pecorino and falls in love – magnifique! Warm, pillowy gnocchi float weightlessly on clarified butter (flown in straight from a small village in France), and kissed by fragrant, peppery sage. The deer tartar is exquisite, crowned with a quail egg, aged 30 days, seasoned with soy and hydrated mustard seeds that explode like fireworks in a dark sky. The last amuse-bouche is a delightful mix of verdure (lush greens) and sunflower sprouts, gently dusted with toasted sunflower seeds adding an exciting grainy texture to the leaves. Charlie Burger Blanc de Blances Champagne is delicate and slightly dry, making it an excellent choice for this course.
Cold smoked Lake Huron white fish bathes in turnip bouillon, skillfully salted, it works best with red meat turnip. A flawless pairing: 2008 Chateau La Baronne, Montagne d’Alaric, Corbieres, from France pulls flavours from the dish that would go unnoticed otherwise.
Slow-cooked Lake trout is heavenly, perfumed by rosebuds, Brussels sprout petals and shaved pecorino. The pairing to this dish – Santa Lucia 2010, Fiano, Gazza Ladra, IGT Puglia, from Italy – is light and fragrant, bringing out the nuttiness of the pecorino.
This next course is the ultimate comfort food. Confit partridge is superb, perfectly seasoned and tender. Black trumpet mushroom, salsifis (which tastes like a mix between carrot/parsnip) and celery seed bring me back home – simple, nostalgic, honest. Domaine Ligneres 2003, Le Signal, Montagne d’Alaric, Corbieres, from France lightly coxes the partridge to fly.
A small cheese course, brought in from France follows. St. Nectaire –a straightforward tasting cow’s milk cheese. And, my favourite, smooth distinctive sheep’s milk Tomme de Brebis is bettered by Podere Rocche dei Manzoni 2006 Barolo DOCG, Roche, Piemonte, from Italy.
Finally a sorbet that actually does what it’s supposed to do, wipes ones palette clean. Spicy ginger, lemongrass, red pepper and cool mint work together creating a blank slate for the final course.
To end the evening, a sweet Anjou poached pear placed in gorgeous ruby beet jus – while enjoying a glass of Hennessy VSOP at my side – is just the right ending to a remarkable evening. I can’t wait until the next event. Bravo Franco!