Sunday, October 07, 2007

Comfortably NU

I've been immersed in history recently, while watching the German TV flicks Heimat, 1 & 2 and Ken Burns' new series about WW2. Both the German flicks and The War intersperse colour and BW footage in intriguing ways. Both cinematic experiences flashed me back to the world of my parents (WW2) and grandparents (Heimat 1). Possibly remembering my Viennese grandmother's apple pastries, I ordered an apple-soaked starter at Nu restaurant this week. I'd been wanting to go there since the local news reported that Nu was rated one of the top restaurants in the world by a British magazine. Steph had been there before, and described it as something out of The Jetsons. I had studied the menu on line, and thinking about the Wine Poached Pear, the Crab fritters or the Lobster Cocktail. The server told me the lobster dish was just a shrimp cocktail only with lobster, hardly haute cuisine. I took her suggestion and ordered the scallops, pork and 3 presentations of apples. Apple covered pork chops being a family fave, I knew apples and pigs go together sublimely but would the scallop work as well? Actually it was kind of hard to find the scallop flavour in all the pork/apple goodness but actually it wasn't missed.


Steph had had the stuffed chicken wings here before and was about to order them again when I convinced her to order something new. She went with the Gruyere soup. The taste I had was astonishing. If you love cheese as much as I do, this is your soup. Much as I loved my pig/apple concoction, I wished I'd ordered the cheese soup instead.


Because the chicken at Diva at the Met is the best meal I've had in Vancouver, I figured we must be getting some great chicken in Vancouver these days, and if this is a world class restaurant, their chicken should be just as good as Diva's. Just as the best tonkatsu restaurants in Tokyo loudly proclaim where their pigs are from, restaurants here are doing the same with their meats. It was nice to know the chicken that died to make this Ballontine had a happy life. I had to ask what a Ballontine was and the server told me it was, to quote Wikipedia, "a piece of meat that has been stuffed, then rolled and tied in a bundle, then poached or braised." This Chicken Ballontine came with cranberries, apple sauce and sage stuffing. Eating it, I felt like I'd just sat down to dinner with Ebeneezer Scrooge after he'd learn to love Christmas and spending money. Certainly the Christmas/Thanksgiving (Oct 8 in Canada) taste reference was intentional, though chicken tastes like turkey would taste if it were any good. Like the Diva chicken that flashed me back to the first time I'd eaten chicken, this meal summoned forth memories from distant childhood (before my family started eating meat). Maybe it was the sage. My siamese cats used to play in the hills behind our house and come home smelling of sage. This was comfort food at its best.

Steph went with the beef tenderloin. The bite I tried was both delicious and intriguingly textured. In my experience of fine restaurants in this town, its hard to find really good beef anywhere and then anything interesting done to it- the one exception being the Beef Sashimi at Zen restaurant in West Van. This was much thicker than the properly thin Zen Beef and more in the way of an attempt at new tastes than the Zen meal. Does that mean Zen and Nu are buying beef from the same supplier? More likely, it means there are more and more sources of top of the line beef in town for its chefs to experiment with.
Yes, that's a glass of white wine next to Stephs' beef. It worked for her. Why should we be imprisoned by the red wine=beef, white wine=seafood pairings we're used to? The restaurant after all, is called Nu.

For desert, I stayed in Tiny Tim-land and ordered the plum pudding with even more sage, and a tiny glass of the desert wine Sequentia. Perfectly paired. Considering how much apple was in my previous two courses, I was expecting the plum in the pudding to come out and introduce itself on my tongue. No, it was traditional plum pudding. Charles Dickens would recognize it, and promptly write a new novel in its honour.

Steph had the passion fruit pavlova for desert, which went perfectly with the desert chardonay she'd ordered. All the parings we experienced fit perfectly. All in all a splendid meal, marrying Jetsons ambience with A Christmas Carol resonance. A great way to start autumn too.

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