Wednesday, October 19, 2005

How good can food get?

Whatever they eat in heaven, it's not as good as the scallops at C restaurant. How good can food get? I was about to find out.
Everyone I knew or had read who had been to C had raved about the place and wondered why this fish-loving feline hadn't been there. I wondered too. Then Fumiyo's old friend and fellow sea-food fancier Bo came to visit and so to C we went, singing shanties, carrying umbrellas.
It's like a theatre of food. The riesling the server reccommends to go with the appetizers is splendid with the seaweed bread (yes it sounds terrible, but it's terrific). The problem, and this is true of most restaurants, is that the wine is served long before the appetizers arrive, which means it isn't at its coldest and best when it's most needed. This should be a capital crime.
I discover weathervane is a kind of scallop so you get 2 kinds of scallops to compare. It's served with Jerusalem artichoke. Does eating it bring on the appocalypse? I'll soon find out.
The architecture reminds me of the Scandinavian Pavillion at the 1962 World's Fair in Seattle. A Kennedy era aesthetic. You want to peel a plank off the wall and go skiing, while singing Norwegian Wood.
The appetizers arrive in a box that also suggests World's Fair bravado from the Scandinavian Crafsmen's Guild, or perhaps something Houdini would have invented. It contains some sort of lox (I'm starting to drown in Scandinavian metaphors here) that is frankly too fishy without COLD white wine. I await a fresh glass of a more appropriate temperature. Fumiyo had ordered sablefish as an entree as well as for an appetizer. I've had sablefish before but don't know it well enough to recognize good or bad sablefish. The sablefish appetizer was odd. The lobster and scallop thing with pear and olive essence (sounds like something an alchemist would invent) is interesting rather than delicious. The crab however is wonderful, just not enough of it.
There seem to be a lot of Japanese influnces on the menu, which bodes well and is almost expected in Vancouver Fusion land. There are more lobster dishes than any other on the menu and I consider that, but eat lobster rarely and scallops often so I'm more likely to learn something I can cook by ordering the scallops, or so I figure.
The scallops arrive. I don't belive how good they are. The server has reccommended another wine which works well for me (a chardonay) but alas, Bo's wine pairing tastes more like water than wine, with his admittedly divine halibut, my favourite fish. The scallops are soaring in so many different directions, I can't keep count of them all. The olive garnish and the peppercress on top somehow manage to kick it into even a higher dimension. And the Jerusalem artichokes are divinely inspired. I feel like Simon Bolivar, freeing a whole new continent of flavour, or Louis Armstrong inventing jazz, a new way for new instruments to play something different and more excellent. The vegetables seem to be the voice of the vegetables themselves, what they want us to taste of them. We savour their souls and become them.
On this blog I've often thought of food in terms of battles- the valiant attempt of a particular dish to overcome expectations for example, but eating the heavenly C food, I think instead of an Ursula K Leguin world where fighting was not only non-existant, but unimagineable. All was endless harmony. The ingredients go together as if resonating from memories of an earlier era where they were all the same lifeform.
The last bite of scallops is so saturated with sublimity it's as if Vince Guaraldi were still alive, playing my tastebuds instead of piano keys. My fete has been cast to the wind- a divine wind.
For someone who usually avoids sweets, it even strikes me as odd to be ordering desert. A lavender flavoured ice cream is too intriguing to pass up. As a child, I used to love some lavender flavoured candies and this was just as good. Fumiyo thought it tasted like soap, but she doesn't have my memories. The pear tart seems to be visiting us from another world where pears are taken seriously. There is also a peach jelly component to the desert which reminds me of something familiar, but I can't decide what it is. Cloves? Whatever it is, it's miraculous.
Well, all the food isn't as good as my scallops, but those scallops are better than I thought food could be. I'm always happy to be proved wrong about such things. Thankfully I didn't have to die to experience C's scallops.


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