Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year's Food

One new year's day, my friend Bac'n Girl invited me to her family's home for their traditional Japanese New Year's Day lunch. It was an impressive feast, with hand-pounded mochi and all sorts of interesting things to eat. Maybe you have some new year's food traditions. If not, you can always make up something. Here's hoping you eat something noteworthy tomorrow. And here are some traditions from around the world. Cheers!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Red and Green Food

Beet Panne Cotta

Just a quick post on Christmas Day to wish Nancylanders happy holidays! This bit of red and green was a delightful dish I enjoyed at Fiddlehead Joe's (1-1012 Beach Ave, 604.688.1969) on the north side of the False Creek Seawall, under the Burrard Street bridge, amongst all the Concord Pacific highrises. The beet "panne cotta" was soft and silky, made from organic roasted beets, served with goat cheese, gorgonzola and organic greens ($10). The meal I had at Fiddlehead Joe's was really a pleasant surprise. I had never paid much attention to this little restaurant on the water, despite having cycled and walked past countless times. It's actually been around for about seven years. Service from the bartender (in retrospect, I'm wondering if it was Fiddlehead Joe himself?) was absolutely delightful and the little dishes I had were creative and tasty. I also enjoyed a soup that was like tasting the forest in a bowl - fiddlehead (as you may know, they are unopened Ostrich fern fronds, and have an appealing coiled shape) and forest mushroom soup ($6). It was a nice brown, earthy broth, which I thought was quite fun, at least conceptually. As for flavour, I'm more of a thick, creamy soup person, so I might not order it again, but it was good and worth trying. I also had some great pomme frites with a mayonnaise based dip. And last but definitely not least, I had a fantastic dessert. The chocolate chili sauce had just a perfect amount of heat to really make this dessert interesting. It worked perfectly with the crisp rounds of meringue and the dense chocolate mousse underneath ($8).

Toasted Meringue with birds eye chilli infused chocolate mousse

I actually wound up going to this restaurant on the spur of the moment, as I was trying to sober up from the EnRoute magazine cocktail party at Nu where they announced their Best New Canadian Restaurants awards. The funny thing is that this experience at Fiddlehead Joe's won me over more than anything else that evening. I'll definitely check it out again sometime. I was in the mood for something light and interesting that evening, but they also have "medium plates" for $15 and "large plates" for $24. I'm now eyeing the trio of quail under the medium plates section of the current dinner menu. They serve brunch and lunch too. In fact, it seems as if they're always open. I'll also keep it in mind for large groups, as the restaurant was almost entirely taken up by a large group when I was there eating at the glowing bar, and the staff seemed to be doing quite well with them.

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Best Restaurant in the World? Guess I'll Have to Take Their Word For It

I'm drooling over the thought of my very first trip to Europe in September 2007, which starts in Spain. Naturally, I'm thinking ahead to the meals. This is my naïve line of thought: "Hey, isn't elBulli in Spain?" A quick look at the elBulli restaurant's website confirms that they were touted as the "Best Restaurant in the World" as voted by 500 critics, chefs, and gourmets from around the world that put together the 2006 list of the World's Best Restaurants for The Restaurant magazine. "I know about this trip nine months in advance, maybe I can save up all my money for one unbelievable meal, or a snack, or..something..." I poke around the site and find the very serious "synthesis of elBulli cuisine" - twenty-three statements laid down like restaurant commandments. The pretension of it all feeds my curiousity rather than squelches it like I might expect it to. I skim through the bios of the chefs. Again, very serious stuff. *CLICK* - the reservations page. They are filled up for the 2007 season. Aw, man. The whole year. Well, I really shouldn't be surprised. I know how hard it is to get in to even the French Laundrey. So then, feeling a bit silly for thinking this would be easy, I go looking for the menus, to really rub it in. The history of all of their dishes from 1983 - 2006 are photographed and catalogued beautifully. I've borrowed the phrase graduate level dining before, but I think the phrase really applies here. The geek in me savours the elegantly organized documentation of their creations. Is this place overrated? Who knows? Possibly, but I would so like to take that gamble and experience it in person. I mean, I just started slow with the food porn on their site by clicking on last year's cocktails...and even that looks wildly creative. Also, I'm actually quite fond of foams, so I'm good to go. So join me and feast, virtually, upon some wonderfully ambitious food and drink here. You'll have to click your way through. There is always an English option (EN), go past the ad for the books, and click the "enter to" at the bottom of the screen. Find the catalogue under gastronomy. Bon appetit!