Thursday, October 18, 2007


Deuce is a widely advertised new restaurant about 5 blocks away from my house in North Van. I tried their scallops on my way back from seeing the Simpsons movie (superb!) a few monthes ago. While there at that time, the duck on the menu looked very interesting and I wanted to go back to try it. By the time I finally came back, this time with my duck-loathing friend Terry, the duck had metamorphised into a Duck Twofer. Terry ordered the salmon on a stick, oddly called Corn Dogs. While awaiting our meals, I ordered a Pom Cosmo. The Blackberry Mojito I had with the scallops wasn't very good. The vodka overwhelming my favourite fruit. This however, was excellent. Pomegranate is a joyous ingredient. You want to turn into Van Morrison and start serenading its soulfull pundency. The vodka taste crept away to hide under a rug like communism in Russia in 1989.

We noticed the word "muddled" on the cocktail menu. I'd seen it on cocktail menus before and noticed an ad for a "muddling spoon" in a food mag I picked up the other day. What is "muddled" we asked our server Amanda. She showed us the muddler and demonstrated its use. Mortar and Pestal imagery rather than spoonery, at least to me. Terry noticed that the two servers were dressed alike. I assumed it was the restaurant's uniform. Terry figured it had to do with the name of the place, two identically dressed women for Deuce. Then a third server showed up in the same get-up. A trace? While enjoying my pommy cocktail and the muddling demonstration, we were treated to a long set of Van Morrison tunes. His music became an ingredient, an enjoyment magnifier.

Terry was insulted that his divine salmon was called a Corn Dog. A disservice both to dogs and corn. On the menu it said salmon in tempura batter so I was expecting some serious batter issues . Nope. Even the tartar sauce was inventive and smothered on the salmon was almost an act of fish-worship. I required a glass of wine to begin my duck revery and foolishly asked for a glass of white. Amanda reccommended a glass of Yalumba, which did indeed slide smoothly about my mouth full of salmon, but when I tried it with the Duck Twofer, serious disaster.

Duck "Twofer"1. cherrywood smoked duck, blackcurrent port poached pears, goose berries, chives
2. shredded duck confit, caramelized apples, roasted onions, Okanagan goat cheese herb tart
additional pieces $2.5/each
OK, I tried the port pear duck. It was far too gamey for my tastes, even after cutting the fat off. With white wine, it was bordering on lethal. The Herb Tart however, was the best duck I've eaten in Vancouver. The only duck I've ever had better was cooked by my friends The Petries in Washington DC; see the first posts on this blog from May, 2005. Terry said it tasted like Christmas. I wondered if that was from the sage in the tart or its resemblance to short bread. It felt like a vast fiesta breaking out in my mouth. The cheese went so well with the onions (unlike the otherwise great walla walla onion with the scallop and tomato tasting menu we had at Rain City Grill the previous Sunday) it made me consider the whole idea of ingedients in a new way. Christmas presents aside, Terry found the duck chewy but that didn't bother me, particularly with the tooth-clinging quality of the pastry. I wondered if the two dishes were made with the same duck? Would a different cheese alter the dish significantly? A different apple or onion? Whoever came up with this bite of divinity really knew what they were doing. This wasn't serendipity. The cherrywood duck sounded great on paper but tasted terrible. Even Christmas Duck took a dive into serious badness when I paired it with the Yalumba white. I had to immediately cleanse my palate with ice water (the diner's best friend).

A deuce of frozen grapes. Kinda zen, kinda not.


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