Friday, November 12, 2010

mix and match

sometimes its nice to mix things up a bit.

so we did.

this week we ran the first of a new series of exciting dinners featuring two talented ottawa chefs. chef steve mitton of murray street and chef charlotte langley of whalesbone (who, might i add, are both off to work their magic at gold medal plates next week) joined us for a night of mixing, matching and well, quite frankly, a bit more collaboration than competition!

the premise of these events are that the chef's duel it out on the plates - each interpreting their version of one common ingredient per course. our sommelier team groovy grapes then finds two interesting and out of the box wines to pair with each dish.

this particular challenge featured four starring ingredients: beets, arctic char, pork, and pumpkin. chef mitton and chef langley came up with a theme they called "in and out" - each using the featured ingredient from either its "inside" or its outer layer.

here were the results....

plating roasted beets, soft chevre, Ontario-sourced walnuts and local honey

heads and tails.... local arctic char from thistle springs

plating the main course - smoked confit shoulder of pork, mustard spaetzle, trotter broth....

the final plate... on the side: pork liver pate with calvados and peach preserves garnished with home-baked crackers (speckled with pork fat)

pumpkin "pie" with graham cracker crust and fresh marshmallow topped with brown butter pumpkin seed brittle

thanks steve & charlotte!

(watch for two more mix and match dinners to appear on our 2011 calendar)

“in and out”

Pickled beets/ walnuts vs.

Roast beets/ walnut shells/chevre


Marlborough, New Zealand

CLOS DU BOIS ROSÉ 2008, California,

United States

Arctic Char Roe vs. Whole Arctic Char


Congeliano, Italy


South Africa

Pork Liver Pate/ Calvados/ peach preserves vs.

Smoked confit shoulder/ mustard spaetzle/ trotter broth


Mosel, Germany


Rioja, Spain

Brown butter Pumpkin seed brittle vs.

Pumpkin pie/ graham/ marshmallow


Piedmont, Italy


Jerez, Spain

Monday, November 1, 2010

missing in action.....

you may have been asking, "where have we been"? well.... lets just say that we have noticed that summer quickly faded into fall... and now as we see the flurries begin, we realize just how fast time flies when you are having fun! being super busy also made us fall behind on capturing these past few weeks of activity and we're sorry we've been missing in action..... actually, at this very time it is the calm before the storm as we are just on the cusp of holiday festivities starting in about 2 weeks!

so, what have we been up to?

well, lets see...


shortly after our tomato tasting with matthew brearly (ahem, our last post) it was labour day long weekend and i was off to niagara on the lake to visit some family and tour some wineries. its a glorious time of year to be amongst the vines and breath-taking scenery in southern ontario. some highlight wineries included organized crime and thirteenth street winery (where the cuvee 13 rose is a definite must purchase!).

the good earth cooking school is a very good place to visit indeed. nicolette novak, owner and consummate hostess, has been friend and a mentor of mine for years. she opened both an indoor and al fresco cooking school in 1998 and has never looked back since. recent addition to the property is the 'good wine' aspect - which it certainly is! we sipped on some delightful riesling, chardonnay and my personal favourite, rose, over a little nosh of charcuterie and cheese. it was a bit too chilly to dine on their new covered patio but the warmth and charm of the dining area gave splendid views to the vineyards and offered the perfect place to relax. the school is located on a working fruit farm and so after lunch we wandered through pear and peach orchards and were invited to sample some of the goods - i can still taste those sweet, succulent can't get any fresher than this.

i got a little help from my nephew for this shot - now, isn't this perfection?

before we knew it, it was october.

october for urban element meant beau's oktoberfest in vankleek hill. boy, does this family know how to put on a festival or what! a fantastic weekend revolving around the delicious locally brewed beau's beer - you can feel good about buying a ticket as it all helps raise funds for an array of local charities. we were thrilled to take part in this year's two-day festival and together with 18 other ottawa and area restuaranteurs were there to dish up beer friendly foods to all attendees. on our menu was yummy pulled pork sammies topped with hall's apple and red cabbage slaw. i have to say, the combination of the music, the beer, the food and the amazing hosts kept smiles on our faces all weekend long. thanks beau's for a great event -until next year!

and we ended october with a truly intriguing class. rene rodriguez of navarra rolled out a special series he has coined "the secrets series". limited to 16 guests, this is your chance to get up close and personal with chef rodriguez and ask all your burning questions about food and the culinary world. for this first class, we were an intimate group of 12 and we started in the kitchen (bubbly in hand), reviewing a decadent yet rustic menu of butternut squash soup with braised octopus, papardalle with lamb ragu, and deliciously rich caramel bread pudding. half of the group started in the kitchen with sous chef brian, cooking and assembling the first course while the other group got to "grill" rene at the communal dining table with all their burning food (and non-food related) questions. after enjoying the first course, the group switched places. by the end of the night, guests reconvened around the kitchen counter, bellies full, swapping stories and sipping dessert wine. the premise is of this series is that in a short period of time you get access to a wide variety of culinary topics - that the questions and answers will be compiled (over 65 in all) and shared with all attendees though an email after the course. its a great way to rub shoulders with a professional over the course of three hours and learn something you maybe were curious about but too shy to ask.... come and share some secrets with us next time.

next class is scheduled for monday november 22nd.

hope to see you soon - and i promise -sooner than later on the blog!