Monday, April 14, 2008

Cioppino's: Chef in charge

Finally made it to Cioppino's Chef Pino recognized me and remembered that I'd promised to visit his restaurant, after his amazing soup at the Gold Plate Awards dinner. "I make more than just soup," he told me. Krista, Dino and I were prepared to be impressed. I asked if there were a cocktail menu, as we were seated right next to the bar. No, but there is a house martini, this one, made with orange juice, Alize passion fruit liquer, Absolute mandarin vodka, and mango puree. The chef came by and told me to be sure and eat the sweetened fruit in the bottom of the glass, which was exquisite. I ended up having a couple.

A very comfortable space.

The award winning Porcini mushroom soup wasn't on the online menu or the one at the table, but Pino made it anyway. Here's Krista discovering what I'd discovered 4 monthes before.

We shared 3 appetisers. This is spot prawns with arugula, artichokes, cherry tomatoes, squash and some kind of fruit. I wished my prawn-loving daughter were here to enjoy it.

We also ordered the grilled calamari "alla Ligure" with sage, mushroom and black olives, and for a salad course, the warm goat cheese, roasted portabella, Japanese eggplant, maple syrup caramel. There may be better appetisers on the planet but these are the best three I've ever tasted.
When the chef came by to find out how we were enjoying everything, my palate was so involved with the sheer enjoyment of the food, I was momentarily speechless. The three appetisers seemed to be having a conversation with each other in my mouth.
I noticed the pan seared RARE tuna in Pinot Noir citrus reduction. I told Chef Pino that I only ate fish that was well cooked. First, he said that the tuna had to be a certain consistancy for the flavours to work but he took that as a challenge and cooked this tuna specially for me. I don't recall a chef at a restauarant of this quality who had ever done that for me. I felt like a king or something. The red wine the chef chose to accompany the tuna was also a perfect pairing.
Krista ordered the lobster, scallop and prawn trio. I sampled each and found them true to their original taste, unlike my tuna which didn't taste anything like any tuna I'd ever tasted.

Dino had the duck, which I found ducky. Chef Pino said he used ancient recipes married to the most modern technology. Dino is planning to open a rental kitchen in the near future, for chefs who don't own their own restaurants to use when they do catering. I wonder if any of them will ever make any food as good as this.

Limoncello cheese cake, marscapone thing and lime sorbet. Fond as I am of all things lime, it was too cold to enjoy. Great food from first bite to last. Indeed, the whole day had been amazing. Serendipitously, I had turned on Air America in the morning when CBC had nothing I wanted to hear, and there was my Firesign friend David Ossman on the Lionel show, which I was trying to bring about on the cruise in the last blog posts.


At 2:44 PM, Blogger  said...

This bozo 'tis fat free from now till, once again, death.

At 11:58 AM, Blogger Elayne said...

Not for nothing, Cat, but next time you need to take your food photos with a better camera. Was this from a cell phone camera? The food all looks a lot less appetizing than you describe.


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