...the feast

I fear my photography skills cannot do justice to the meal we savored last Sunday night. I'm glad I waited before posting because I needed a couple of days to (literally and figuratively) digest the meal.

It started with a lovely Langdon Maple Martini upon entering Billy's apartment. It tasted like lime without being too tart and packed a wallop. We schmoozed around for a little while and then Billy was kind enough to take us on a tour of his fabulous collectibles.

The Chef for the evening was the lovely and charming Victor DeGuzman from the CAA/AAA Five Diamond, Mobile 4 Star, Relais & Chateaux; Langdon Hall Country House Hotel & Spa. He works there under Executive Chef and Relais & Chateaux Grand Chef Jonathan Gushue.

Towards the end of the tour, we had hors d’oeuvres of bison done three ways: jerky, satays and steamed buns. I missed the jerky which was upsetting because I love jerky dearly, but I was very pleased with the delicious satay.

After that we enjoyed the oysters depicted on my previous post. They were light, citrusy and delicious with the lovely lemongrass and shallot mignonette. And I've already discussed the butter. Simply heavenly.

Next came the marinated scallops and charred octopus accompanied by a mango, tamarind and red chili salsa fresca. The flavour was more sweet than hot and the scallops melted in my mouth like butter. The octopus has great flavour. I always love it for its chew. This course was accompanied by and Italian 2006 Pinot Grigio (IGT, CANDONI, Delle Venezie), which was light and fresh, the mildest of the wines we would enjoy.

Next came the duck course. This egg was imported from the Philippines and took three weeks to arrive in Canada. Chez DeGuzman told us he knew Charlie's Burgers diners were infamously adventurous so he thought we would enjoy it. It's a "mature" egg, containing a small baby duck inside.


I tried it because I'll try anything, but I didn't eat much. Maybe it was the richness of the flavour or, more likely, biting into a small bone that rocked my culinary conceptual framework. My boyfriend happily ate all of his, recounting his experience eating similar things while visiting Hanoi, Vietnam. In that case, he said the bird had been even further developed so he was pulling feathers out of his mouth.

(shudder)

Along with the egg for the duck course was the cured and roasted breast served with glutinous rice that had been infused with lotus root and was served on top of a grape leaf. I think the reduction we ate with it was made from leg and gizzard confit. Another Italian wine accompanied this course: 2006 Barbera D'Alba DOC, "Piani" Pelissero, Piemonte. It was a light red, with very few tannins and I loved it.


Here is the source of much contention: the Itoham Kobe beef striploin course. Just yesterday, I got into a feud on Chowhound about whether or not the Kobe beef was real. I can only go on what Chef DeGuzman told us. It had taken four weeks for the loin to be delivered from Japan. Our waiter, Franco, spread his arms wide to describe the size of it. He said he had never seen anything that size.

The seared, tenderly-bloody loin was served with braised cheeks so succulent that they melted in my mouth like butter. I drank every drop of the kaffir lime consommé like a barbarian. It was so flavourful and perfectly seasoned. *sigh* The red Italian wine that accompanied this course was a 2005 Langhe Rosso DOC, "Long Now" Pelissero, Super Piemonte. My boyfriend, who knows more about wine than I do, whispered to me that it was very, very expensive. It had a prominent flavor that met the richness of the beef.


One last thing...

18 comments:

  1. Hey Omar,
    It was great meeting you. I'm so glad we got to share the experience. Was that your Chowhound discussion strand that they deleted? I can't believe how intense those people are. That one girl just about bit my head off.

    I hope I get to share another secret dinner again soon with you and Jenny. You made great company.

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  2. Wow - the whole thing looks incredible

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  3. Jess, I was following the thread on CH before it was deleted and I was shocked at the level of vitriol - not sure why people were getting so uptight and condescending. There was also an accusation that you were posting under 2 different user names, although I saw no evidence of that. I think people were just jealous that they missed out on the kobe :)

    Anyway, CH can get intense - but they're mostly a friendly bunch. Hopefully this hasn't put you off forever, I find it a very useful resource..

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  4. Anonymous, thanks for both your comments.

    Anonymous II, I found that CH thread overwhelming. I came across it when a Google news alert linked to my blog from the recent conversation thread.

    I definitely did not initiate the conversation. I think I ate dinner with the gentleman who did, but I was annoyed at the suggestion that I had done both posts. I was also put off by the negativity. People were SO CERTAIN that we had not dined on authentic Kobe beef.

    All I was saying was I couldn't understand why a reputable chef like DeGuzman would lie. Why would someone make a point of sale a particular ingredient was real explicitly if it were not?

    That thread stood in stark contrast to overwhelming positivity we had experienced at the dinner.

    I'll continue to monitor CH conversations as it seems like people are really "passionate" about the subject matter. (Note to self: develop thicker skin.)

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  5. Yes, I tend to avoid the more 'passionate' discussions (one has only to look at Terroni threads for an example!), but I do find it a great resource for dining recs and hard to find ingredients.

    Like I said, I think people were a little envious - they had pretty much written off CB in a previous thread and I think they just didn't want to revise their opinions.

    happy eating,

    - d

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  6. Hey babe,
    sounds like a wonderful night.
    So what was the rich flavor of the egg in the duck course like? and how about the texture?

    -Shantrino

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  7. Anonymous, I'll be sure to look at the Terroni threads now that you've mentioned it. Happy eating to you too!

    Shantrelle, the night was lovely. That egg didn't taste bad at all. The flavor was actually quite lovely. Above anything else, it was the richness factor that became an issue. I ODed on butter and had already eaten all that bison and then there was all that fatty duck breast and I knew the Kobe would be fatty too. Let's face it, eggs are rich. Duck eggs? Richer still. Duck eggs with babies in them? Richness overload.

    I must also admit that the texture was ok for the most part: it tasted soft and tender like braised dark meat chicken. When I bit into that little bone (or beak or whatever) it just became a game time decision.

    I hear a lovely rumour that you're bringing your blog back. I can't wait!

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  8. Hey Jess.

    Pictures of the searing kobe we ate are now up on chowhound. Take a look.

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/616122?tag=main_body;topic-616122

    Let's see how the forum tough guys respond to that.

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  9. Your post was nuked again.

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  10. I saw that one person still tried to insist it wasn't real, but those pictures looked beautiful. I guess the Chowhound folks keep deleting these threads because of the "undergound" or "semi-legal" issue with Charlie's Burgers.

    Omar, if you had pictures of the prep that you'd like people to see, I'd be happy to post them on your behalf (and credit you of course.)

    Chowhound. Hmm...

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  11. No, it is not because of the underground or semi-legal issue. That was cleared up before.

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  12. I had thought so. I wonder why then.

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  13. What I ate at Charlie's Burger was not Kobe beef. It was not well-marbled enough to be even A4 or A5 grade. As others have noticed as well, the meat wasn't as tender as it should have been. Anyone who has eaten real Kobe beef should have been able to tell the different quickly; this was likely just wagyu. No certificate of authenticity was shown either, which should have been something proudly displayed (especially when people asked if it was actually real Kobe).

    http://www.kobebeef.co.jp/imgs/2005_11/teki/sirteki0511_2.jpg

    This is what the marbling on Itoham's Kobe product SHOULD be. It is also $150/200g. I was disappointed that they weren't honest about this, even though I felt the meal was a good value (the wine pairings, while not "REALLY EXPENSIVE" wines, were good), and the food was pretty good overall. I just feel a bit duped by something that was a bit of an obvious lie...

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  14. That's a pretty interesting point. You may be right. Like I've said, I'm not anything close to an expert on Kobe. I just think it would have been pretty ballsy for the chef to unabashedly lie about Kobe beef in the presence of so many food experts, not to mention Susur Lee.

    I would have to say: not showing a certificate of authenticity for Kobe beef is comparable to leaving a provocative, yet anonymous comment on someone's blog. I've enabled the ability to post anonymous comments so I guess I can't complain, but I would find your argument more compelling if you stood behind your name and owned your comments.

    To give you the benefit of the doubt, I'll assume you attended the dinner. However, if you feel like substantiating your argument, but don't want to leave your name, maybe you could mention something that happened during that evening that I didn't write about in my blog post, something you could have only known if you were there.

    You could say what the bathroom looked like or the arrangement of the table or how many people were seated.

    In that case, I'll say touché: you very well may be right, Anonymous.

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  15. Menus lie all the time. Some chefs just don't know any better. National newspapers expose this more frequently than one would think.

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  16. the duck egg is famously called a balut. in the philippines its known as an aphrodisiac.. =)

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  17. Hi Shweepea,

    Balut, eh? Thanks! I learn something new every day.

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