Feb 23, 2009

May Festival of Chefs 2009: Canoe

Announcing our new contributor to the blog, "Breemer." Breemer and O-reagano (and sometimes even the big cheese) will be collaborating on weekly features on the fine establishments of all 10 participating Chefs. And by "collaborating" we mean enjoying nice meals, imbibing in gourmet experiences, taking a few pictures, and posting about it here. It's tough work, but... you know.

Cheese Boutique Festival of Chefs: Mission Statement
Invite Toronto’s 10 finest chefs to Cheese Boutique for cooking demonstrations, every Saturday and Sunday in May. Let them cook with our ingredients, and pair their complimentary sample dishes with wine for our festival patrons. By taking these celebrated chefs out of their kitchen into the public, the foodie is able to interact with the chef, and the chef is eager to hear the input of the consumer.

The first in the Festival line-up is Canoe Restaurant Executive Chef: Anthony Walsh, appearing at CheeseB for the first day of the Festival of Chefs on May 2. This would be his third attendance at the Festival.

The view from up here

Ploughman's Lunch topped with CheeseB's Thunder Oak Gouda

Oreagano's lobster club sandwich

Soma mousse and hazelnut dacqouise with apricot and ice wine sorbet

Canoe Kitchen from the Chef's rail

After wading through the Financial District's sea of suits on BlackBerries, pop into the TD building where a quick (though shaky) elevator carries you up to the 54th floor. Upon exiting the elevator pleasant aromas blend with the strong sterile office building ambiance. If you turn one way you end up at the TD Executive Dining Room; turn the other and you find Canoe.

Boasting a fabulous view of Toronto, the backdrop of the harbour serves as a feast for the eyes (why should mouths have all the fun). Luckily we had clear weather and were able to thoroughly enjoy the scenery of the harbour scattered with snowy accents. If you don't get front row seating in front of the lake, another fun option is the Chef's rail where you can perch on stools and watch the goings on in the open kitchen. Despite what one might think, this area (the whole restaurant in fact) was surprisingly quiet, due to the use of induction in the kitchen, which cuts down on noise. We were told that in the summer sitting at the chef's rail is a front row seat for spectacular sunsets.

We started off with the Ploughman's Lunch where proscuitto, Ontario asparagus, Canoe field pickles and Cheese Boutique Thunder Oak Gouda (a pasteurized cow's milk from Thunder Bay that's been aged four years) were artfully arranged on a round plate. The fresh flavour of the greens juxtaposed with the sharp aged cheese was a wonderful combination. My mouthwatering main was the Truffle Ricotta Ravioli with Northern Woods mushrooms, basil and Thunder Oak Foam. I will surely be dreaming of the sinfully rich flavour that, perhaps due to the cheesy foam, was creamy without being heavy. The mix of the mushroom, pasta and sauce blended together nicely and lightly.

Options for dessert included a selection of Cheese Boutique cheeses. Our very pleasant server shared with us his favourites: Bleu d'Acadie, a raw sheep's milk from Ste-Marie-de-Keut, New Brunswick that has a delectable creamy flavour that lingers; and Tourelle de Richelier, a raw goat's milk from Montreal that has an incredible contrast of textures from creamy to grainy. However, that day there was indulgence in a chocolaty treat: the Soma chocolate mousse, hazelnut caramel dacquoise, apricot and Cave Spring Riesling ice wine sorbet.

Canoe is conscious of responsible sustainability and focuses on regional cuisine, everything being sourced from Canada with the majority of ingredients coming from within a 100 km radius. Highlighting the best Canada has to offer through traditional Canuck cuisine with a modern twist.



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