Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Chowing down on Heirloom Tomatos

According to a chef quoted in the Golden Plates edition of the Georgia Straight, Chow has "definitely the tastiest food coming out of any kitchen in Vancouver right now." Always in search of the best possible things to eat, and discovering Chef Poirer had created a menu based on heirloom tomatoes, I filled my pockets full of coins and took the numerous buses from my home in Lynn Valley to a distant part of the city. Well, it's closer than Chicago!
Chilled tomato soup, compressed watermelon, dungeness crab, horseradish-yogurt granita, basil olive oil, paired with 07 Orofino Gewurztraminer.
The soup captured the essence of what I expect from heirloom tomatoes magnificently. The watermelon, crab, etc seemed superfluous. Like Chef Pino's astonishing mushroom soup, it was a bowl of soup I never wanted to finish.

Warm tomato tart, crushed eggplant, basil, goat cheese, marinated chanterelle mushrooms, house-made duck proscuito. Paired with 07 Kettle Valley Viognier, a splendid pairing.
The kind of decontructed food I expect in Chicago (later this week I'll be dining at Charlie Trotters, Alinea and L20) rather than in a Vancouver restaurant. Flavour quality reminded me of Cioppino's, which is as good as you can get in this town.

Slow-cooked halibut, warm tomato carpaccio, salsa verde, roasted tomato puree, cauliflower, ricotta ravioli. Paired with 05 Meyer Family Vineyard Chard.
The pairing really added to this meal. The ravioli reminded me of the ridiculously good squash ravioli I had at Lumiere in April. which was probably the best ravioli I've eaten since a meal at Mama Leone's in NYC in 1964. That's a long time to wait for memorable ravioli.
The halibut was ok. Compared to the halibut I've recently feasted on at Bacchus and Gastropod, and the halibut I cook often, this wasn't worth the long collection of bus trips from Lynn Valley to Granville and 15th. But I came for the tomatoes.
Spiced green zebra tomato jam, honey ice cream, donut souflle, paired with 07 Joie Riesling.
Maybe someone who likes sweets would enjoy this.
I also had two cocktails from their intriguing bar menu. I started with The Last Word: gin, green chartreuse, maraschino, lime juice. After dinner, I had a Hemingway Daiquiri: Cuban rum, maraschino liquer, lime juice, cane sugar, grapefruit juice. Invented for Hemingway at Havana's Floridita Bar, where Ernest would consume these by the dozne. One was quite enough for me.
Actually both cocktails sounded a lot better on the menu than they tasted, but I didn't complain. The magical ingredient "heirloom tomatoes" was treated reverently. There's a bank in Japan called the Tomato Bank. If there were such a thing as a Tomato Church, Chef Poirer should be it's pope.
Thankfully, my favourite cocktail spot West is just a couple blocks away from Chow. I stopped in and my cousin whipped up a couple of killer cocktails, including this one:
1/2 Peach pitted & peeled 1 1/2 oz Plymouth Gin 1/2 Cointreau 3/4 oz Creme de Peche Giffard 3/4 oz Elderflower 1/4 oz lemon juice 1/4 I'd lime juice. Shake & double strain

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