Monday, November 10, 2008

Gold Plates 08

This was my 2nd Gold Plates dinner, thanks to an invitation by our financial advisors S & J Clarke. Preminary notes are from the Urban Diner website. Some great judges did not make very great judgments.

Chef Ned Bell of the Cabana Grille in Kelowna wows his patrons with a hardy and satisfying autumn favourite: a palate cleanser of beef consummé, with anise and cinnamon, warms up the body, just as the pork tortière with caramelized apples, and prosciutto starts this “comfort food” trend that we will see at other stations throughout the evening. Chef Bell chose to showcase his flavours with an Apple Icewine from the Raven Ridge Winery.

Actually it tasted like tortiere. I'm fond of tortiere but hardly expected to find it at an event such as this. Minor league at best.

Chef Frank Pabst of Blue Water Café in Yaletown, attracts guests with his interpretation of scallop and sea urchin mousse. The mousse itself is luxurious in texture, simply presented on a bed of leek and seaweed salad, with a cucumber vichyssoise. Chef Pabst paired his dish with Sumac Ridge Pinnacle Sparkling Wine. “… I thought using the sweetness of the scallop would compliment the flavour of the sea urchin in the mousse,” says Chef Pabst a few hours later on stage while delivering his gold medal speech. What was generally an acquired taste, the sea urchin gains some unfamiliar credit through Chef Pabst’s creation.
This was probably the worst food at the event. I've had great scallops at Blue Water Cafe before. Could not understand how scallops could be made this vile. Later I learn its the sea urchin that contributes the hideous flavour. People who think this is good food should not be allowed to own tongues.

Chef Andrey Durbach of Parkside, Pied à Terre, La Buca, wins bronze with his game bird pot au feu, with wild mushrooms, a duck confit and chestnut farce, wrapped in cabbage, truffle boudin blanc, and a quail and pheasant torchon. This breathtaking soup was paired with Stag’s Hallow “Simply Noir”, a perfect blend of both Gamay and Pinot Noir grapes
The white thing is extremely good, really soaked up the soup .


The only competitor from Vancouver Island, Chef Edward Tuson of the Sooke Harbour House, located south-west of Victoria, created a gorgeous soup, another competition favourite. Chef Tuson used pine mushrooms for his broth, and topped it with a fat dollop of parsnip foam (blending whipping cream and parsnip) - it floated almost like a dumpling. To that, Chef Tuson added cured Berkshire pork (prosciutto-style) from his own herd of Island pigs; he finished the dish with a geoduck clam salad, and an onion oil. Chef Tuson paired his warm bowl with 2007 Peller Estates Pinot Gris.
I had wanted to go to this restaurant until tasting this atrocity. Fond as I am of pork, this was frighteningly bad. Thankfully the restaurant is far away. Not far enough.


Chef Jeremy Bastien of Boneta Restaurant in Gastown creates a bison short rib tortellini, set on a beurre noisette. Chef Bastien was the only competitor to pair his dish with BC beer. He chose Red Devil, an aromatic and well balanced ale by the R&B Brewing Company
As I was making notes on this dish, I was asked by a TV crew if I would talk to their camera. See if I can remember what I thought. I liked the contrast between the tortellini and the meat, a wonderful conbination utterly ruined by the beer. The subtlety of this invention was wrenched away by the astringent, inappropriate liquid. Considering I had just dined at Boneta a few days before, I wished I'd been able to compliment them more.

Chef Quang Dang of C Restaurant in False Creek, pays homage to the sunshine season, and local product, including a palate cleanser of rhubarb jelly, with citrus powder, followed by four components: a fresh chestnut soup, topped with a local quince foam; crispy Sloping Hills pork lardon with macerated grapes, and a grape reduction; seared pork belly, with peach pearls; and a smoked ham hock terrine with local cherry preserves. Chef Dang paired his dish with the supple and buttery Poplar Grove Chardonnay.
What a surprise. Quang Dang can actually cook. I would never have guessed it from his Harvest menu I'd suffered through earlier this fall after his wretchedly fishy dish at the Dr. Peter event.
The soup was probably the best thing at the event, not surpisingly also chestnut inspired.
I admired Tojo's centrepiece. He called me Professor. "Retired," I told him.

Chef Hidekazu Tojo of Tojo’s Restaurant on West Broadway, takes the silver medal with his paper pouch of smoked sablefish, shelled mussel and lobster, served with a pickled vegetable salad. Chef Tojo paired his dish with 2007 Mission Hill Riesling

I told Tojo that this was much better than what he had prepared for the Dr Peter event. "I know," he admitted.

Chef Robert Belcham of Fuel Restaurant in Kitsilano, may have been one of the most exciting dishes. With Chef Belcham, one can always been prepared for juicy, succulent, high quality meats - and that’s what the masses received. A braised shin of beef, wrapped in beef tongue, served a top mashed potatoes. To finish the dish, a celeriac “coleslaw” set on a rye cracker. Chef Belcham paired his rich, comfy dish with 2004 Osoyoos LaRose “Le Grand Vin”, a merlot dominated bottle, with additions of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, malbec and small amounts of petit verdot.
This was very good. the beef better than the coleslaw, not surprisingly.

On his home turf, Chef Kevin Doucette of the Westin Bayshore, looked quite comfortable while he explained his dish, where molecular gastronomy meets bright flavours - Salmon with cedar beads (made from concentrated cedar water and gelatin), miso sauce, a lime-basil “air”, mushroom jelly, and an effervescent avocado lime dust. Chef Doucette paired his dish with the NK’MIP Pinot Noir, a difficult pairing for such an intricate dish.
The citrus really helped the salmon, which was pleasingly moist. Last year this hotel had tried to poison me with oysters. It's nice to see they've become more subtle.


My hosts for the event. I hope they enjoyed C's chestnut soup and Tojo's lobster as much as I did. Sometimes food deserves a gold medal. Othertimes, it just tastes metallic.

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