Saturday, July 25, 2015

Langdon Hall, Cambridge Ontario, Lunch and Dinner.

The extraordinary aspect of any experience eating at Langdon hall, in the summertime or early fall, is that virtually everything on the plate is from their gardens or the immediate surrounding geographical area. All of the vegetables, flowers and herbs are freshly picked just before the dinner and just before the lunch services, bringing a unique flavour experience to each dish. Please keep this fact in mind when you read the constituents of each dish. For me, the colourful presentation and fresh bright flavours of the freshly picked and exceptionally varied ingredients, so well composed and harmonized, made this experience as great as that in any great restaurant in the world.


The ingredients to which the beet borscht below, was added: pickled beets, whipped chevre, fennel fronds.

Beet borscht, created a la minute, for my lunch partner as a surprise. The soup was incredibly refreshing.

Pressed baby carrot terrine set in herb and carrot juice was accompanied by coconut milk, pickled ginger, coconut milk, ginger, yellow and orange carrot purees, mint oil, garden herbs, all dressed with a carrot vinaigrette. The carrot flavour of the terrine was intense! 

The beginning of the spring onion soup. The soup (added below) was placed beside a dollop of very concentrated, jelly like, onion consomme, wild garlic mustard, baby leeks and crispy sour dough crumb. 

 The onion soup added to the dish above.

Jerusalem artichoke agnolotti with sweet peas, baby turnip, radish, nasturtium leaves and topped with shavings of mimolette cheese. The flavours of the dish were fabulous but the pasta could have been a touch more delicate. 

Baked halibut with asparagus, hen of the woods mushrooms, chopped crispy chicken skin and champagne cream. I found the fish, a tad overcooked for my liking, but the texture was still pleasant.

The delicious clementine cake topped with a slice of candied clementine and sided with spiced yam sorbet (another huge hit!).

Hazelnut pot de creme was deliciously rich and flavoured with Frangelico and topped with a praline shard.


Our "ameuse", I had a very small baby red carrot buried in the "dirt" and my partner, a very small baby turnip. This was uniquely chef Bangerter's inspiration and not an attempt to copy chef Rene Redzepi's idea. The "dirt" was very different in composition than chef Redzepi's, in fact, from my perspective and experience, more interesting in texture and flavours. The dirt was composed of kaniwa grains, vinegar and finely chopped blanched beets

Poached white asparagus accompanied by cured goose egg white and yolk, chive flowers and hazelnut gribiche.

Poached green asparagus with early garden sprouts and caviar and squid ink aioli. The flowers and herbs were lavender, Anise hyssop, wild hemp flower, marigold, rose petal and thyme. Brilliant flavours (you may hear me say this a lot!)

This glass "pitcher" is filled with chilled spring vegetable juice consisting of lavender, angelica, cucumber, wild leek and mint. The juice was pored into the glass below to be sipped through the freshly cut and fragrant angelica straw. It was to be enjoyed with the dish below.

The chilled angelica broth and angelica straw.

A "salad" of snap peas, radish pods, brassica, pureed celery root, puree of brassica flowers and peas, purple bean, pickled wild leek and mint

This plate was made with the image of the hands of the head gardener, Mario. The dish is called "terroir", consisting 27 ingredients from the garden, including foraged leaves, burnt shallot and wild berries. The "dirt" component consists of fine mix of black walnuts, brown sugar and roast onions. There was also a sorbet consisting of gooseberries, raspberries, currents and wild strawberries, incorporated in the dish. The whole dish was garnished with edible leaves, hemp, daisy, etc.

Spring salmon, a dish consisting of salmon just fished out of the water 2 days ago and cured, young vegetables such as tiny zucchini, runner beans, sweet sicily, coriander seeds and lemon "candy". Warm consomme was then added to the dish, made of garden vegetables and herbs, coriander seed "punch" and a touch of white balsamic vinegar. The flavour of the broth was intense and so well complemented the cured salmon.

"Jerusalem artichoke", consisting of pureed, creamed and roasted jerusalem artichoke with a pepper-honey glaze, smoked nut crumbs, pickled radish and baby turnip. 

Halibut and spot prawn accompanied by chanterelles and sweet peas. The prawn was perfectly cooked (slightly under as it should be), but the fish, was a tad over. Still, the textures and sublime flavours, were fabulous. The cooked shrimp was finished with a shaved piece of berkshire pork lardon. The sauce was prepared from the bones of the halibut and the shells of the shrimp and made into a light beautifully flavoured bisque. The sun had gone down by the time this photo was taken.

Crab boudin en courgette with a warm saffron water vinaigrette. The water vinaigrette was made with basil, fennel and leeks. The zucchini flower was stuffed with a mousseline of crab. 

"Heritage hen" from a local farmer, consisting of sliced breast and leg presse. The breast was a touch over brined so the texture was a bit dry but barely so. despite that, the flavour of the meat was wonderful. The leg meat presse was a terrine of perfect texture and very juicy. The dish was accompanied by fresh morels, baby leeks and garlic scape and surrounded by a sherry jus made from the bones, dripping and skin.

"Coconut ganache", coconut "paper", raspberries, Mario's flowers, pistachio cake crumble, cocoa cake crumble, a powder of violet leaves with lavender, sea salt and a rich chocolate ganache. Remarkable!

From left to right, honey crumb cookie, cherry brandy pate de fenouille and white chocolate macaroons. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Alo Restaurant

This evening I experienced what may have been the best/most refined resto meal that I have enjoyed in toronto in a long time, at the very new Alo Bistro. The ingredients were pristine and so well selected and composed in a simple but highly refined and sophisticated manner. 

The only weakness were the desserts, 2 just ok, one very good and one exceptional.

The ambiance is refined but very simple and relaxed, if one can imagine such an oxymoron.

Pommes soufflees with black pepper aoli.

Buttermilk sorbet with pea puree, pea sprouts and almond oil. The sweet elements were a perfect complement for the barely sour sorbet.

The shame was that I ate my dish before taking my photo and so I took this image at the pass of the kitchen where the fish lost its white qualities and also, the lovely colour contrasts of the dish were lost. Pristinely fresh Japanese sea bream, samphire, kombu and a yuzo/kosho/nori emulsion.

Bread and butter course.

This dish really spoke to me of such simple, rustic comfort elements of melt in the mouth textures, in a refined presentation: cockscomb, veal trotter and king oyster mushrooms over which frozen cured foie gras was shaved.

Bread crumb coated hamachi with chanterelles, chanterelle puree, kohlrabi and sherry gastrique. It was remarkable how well these flavours came together. The barely tart gastrique was the perfect complement for the fish and mushrooms.

A side view of the fish, presented just for interest. 

Another remarkable hit with a rare presentation of the main ingredient. Yorkshire rack of pork loin and cap, cooked rare, with charred mustard greens, grapes, pickled ramp mustard and black walnuts roasted in the pork fat. The charred flavour of the greens was a perfect foil for the rich flavour of the pork and pork fat.

A pre-dessert of white asparagus sorbet with puffed amarynth, a pleasantly tart lemon puree and a caramel tuile.

Chocolate stout cake, dark chocolate ganache, chocolate jam and malted meringue. 

White chocolate cream with a cucumber granite and a toasted white chocolate crumble. This was a terrific, refreshing but richly satisfying dessert. 

Dark chocolate mousse inside dark chocolate tuile with a dark chocolate sorbet, cocoa nib nougatine, sour cherry puree and black sesame espuma.

Another example of me not taking a picture of a great dish, eating before photographing!! So I took this picture at the pass which gave it its yellow tone. Strawberry bavarois, hibiscus gel, strawberry dip and shaved celery ( a wonderful complement).

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Fast Food, Frites, Fried and Rotisserie Chicken: Moo Frites, Dirty Bird and Flock Rotisserie.

Moo Frites

Fries and a multitude of sauces are all that is available at this shop. The fries are made in automated timed friers. One has a choice of fries fried in canola oil or beef fat. We tried one of each.

Fries made in canola oil. These were tastier than beef fat fries. 

Beef fat fries. Franky, bland and not particularly tasty.

Neither one of the fries had a particularly good texture and were not crispy enough. I was not satisfied with the taste with either fries.

We ordered 3 sauces, garlic (which was good and garlicy), Tunisian which was a it spicy and a mayo sauce with parmesan.

Dirty Bird

I ordered the chicken thigh and the dirty fries. The chicken had been sitting for some time so the fried skin lacked any crispiness although it was tasty. The chicken was cooked properly, juicy. The fries had been sitting as well and had no texture although the taste was satisfactory. What set the fries apart was the very tasty "dirty" sauce made with maple aoli, chives and french fried onions (cheddar as well but I asked for that to be omitted).

Flock Rotisserie

Flock Rotisseurie is chef Cory Vitiello's latest venture, located in the club district.

The pulled chicken sandwich, consisting of beet and apple horseradish, dijon mayo, lettuce, crispy onions, tomato and avocado, all on a multigrain bun. This is a sandwich with good textures and flavours, but the flavour of the chicken is rather absent. Much more chicken is needed. 

After a big bight!

A leg of rotisserie chicken. Good flavour of both the skin and the chicken, all with a mild bight. Chicken was properly cooked and very juicy with good flavour. Two sauces were offered and I chose the very well flavoured and highly complementary chimichurri sauce. 

But for me, one of the real highlights were the salads with multiple complementary flavours and textures. It is rare for any fast food joint to have such great flavourful salads as these.

The "boho" Flock, marinated kale salad, red quinoa, oven-dried tomatoes, roasted and raw beets, dried currants, pumpkin seeds, shredded carrots, pomegranate seeds, sweet red peppers all with a beet/basil/orange vinaigrette.

The "Frenchie" Flock, arugula,  blanched green beens, french lentils, roasted cauliflower, red onions, sweet peppers, cucumber. cherry tomatoes, hard boiled egg all with a roasted tomato/olive/caper vinaigrette.

"Power" Flock, romain lettuce, squash, avocado, orange slices, walnuts, marinated chick peas, goji berries, sunflower seeds, soy beans and sprouts all with a carrot/ginger/soy bean white miso dressing.