Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Girlcook and Materfamilias Eating in Toronto

Let me hand the mike over to my daughter, Megan, also known as Girlcook when she comments and as Dramatic Sprout when she blogs. She's so much more knowledgeable about food (what with being a cook and all!) that I've asked her to describe our recent fabulous lunch at Toronto's Colborne Lane where she's pictured with her boyfriend, Rob, also a cook.

Sorry for my procrastination on writing this post. Mater interrupts to remind readers that this post was first promised over two weeks ago!! I'd like to say that I was editing the post and didn't want to publish it until it was just right. Yes, that's it, I have been slaving over it and I didn't want to it to be less than perfect, and perfection does take time.
lies lies lies
I am a lazy stress case and have been too busy thinking about all the things I have to do before returning home to Vancouver and thus neglected to write this post for my mother's blog. Wow, I can be bit of brat eh!
Well.... oops...and sorry mum
During the lovely visit that I had with my mum recently we ventured to my boyfriend Rob's restaurant Colborne Lane. Mom again: unfortunately, Rob doesn't own the restaurant, but the young'uns are loose with their words -- Rob works there, hence it's "his" restaurant. Being the sweetheart that he is, he wanted to make it a special occasion for my mother and me. Our champagne flutes were never once empty, our server made our ice cream right at out table (thanks to a little liquid nitrogen) and our bill was a joke...a very very good joke!

We enjoyed an amuse bouche pictured above of watermelon ice with crumbled feta cheese and fresh mint. It is a combo that my mater commented she has tried before as a salad, but the lovely and light frozen version was a cool adaptation (no pun intended). What made this better than other versions, for me, is the surprisingly dry, rather granular quality of the watermelon.

Next course was an awesome tuna tartare with fried nori, flying fish roe, smoked trout roe (Mater again -- I love, love, loved! the smoked trout eggs, mmm), avocado puree, cilantro leaves, and about 500 other delicious Asian inspired food trinkets.
Then onto a rare beef with quail egg, pea shoot , and chilli sprigs.

The pear and blue cheese with basil pesto was discussed the day before and my mater thought that it sounded too busy with many different flavours on the plate . Surprisingly though, the pickled pearl onion, balsamic jellies, and blackberries went over well with mum's palate.

Although I am not a fan of foams, and does anybody else think that pairing of a white foam and a mmmm sausage is kind of racy? no? ok, ok bad cook's humour here. I have to admit that Girlcook's just showing herself to be my daughter here -- both of us have to work to keep our minds out of the gutter. Anyways this lamb sausage, almond foam and a creamy, moist, warm, soft, slooooowwwww poached egg was a yes, yes , YES! Megan explained to me that new-tech molecular gastronomy egg-cooking keeps the egg at a very precise temperature, I believe between 62 and 65 celsius so lower than usual -- it develops the flavour in a manner almost incomparable to what I've had before -- wonderful!

The pictures of the food at this restaurant, and a quick visit to its website will show you that the chef really likes to play with his food. Rob has become a bit of a scientist since starting there. Calcium chloride, sodium alginate, soy lecthicin, and liquid nitrogen are actually quite delicious(umm, Meg, we didn't eat the liquid nitrogen, did we?). Molecular gastronomy, hmmmmm, I am still undecided. Too trendy, too forced? I still can't decide. When Rob first told me about the ice cream that gets made at the table thanks to liquid nitrogen sounded ridiculous. The server mixes it at the table then brings it back to the kitchen to be replated.
I have to say that for a cook, it is a bit of a treat to have the server making something for me for a change, and all the steam created by the dry ice was pretty cool (again, no pun intended).
Here's some of the resulting lemon ice cream, plated up with an accompanying "chocolate bar" (which was topped with edible gold leaf) and caramelized banana.

And we still weren't done -- Meg's forgotten the steaming cappucino that topped off our meal: in reality, the "steam" comes from liquid nitrogen in the pot, and the "cappucino" was not liquid but solid -- a marvellous little globe of cream frozen around a tongue-caressing dollop of coffee liqueur. Mmmm, I can still taste it!
Does Mater look happy with her meal?

Thanks, Meg -- maybe I'll get you to guest-post again some time, now that you're going to be back on the Coast. Yeah, I think next time I want a post in, oh, say, three weeks from when I ask for it, you'll be the first one I call! Just kidding, sweetie, and really, thanks for the description of a wonderful meal and thanks for having a boyfriend who made it happen.


  1. What a delicious post from your daughter. Looks like you had a gastronomic gas--oh, that was dry ice and not a gas.

    This culinary tour makes me lament not going to some of the post-modern high-science places in Chicago like Alinea and Moto. Have either of you been? I must go back and visit. I would love to go to a restaurant where you literally can eat the menu.

  2. LBR: never one to resist a pun, eh?
    And no, I haven't even been to Chicago. Meg took herself to Charlie Trotter's for a $200 solo meal when she was on her own overnighting in Chicago enroute to Costa Rica, only 22 years old -- I was so proud of her! But of course, that's a different cuisine.
    Lesley: Glad to see you visiting -- I've been checking your blog lately for posts and missing that voice.
    Thierry Marx I don't know about. Claudio Aprile, the chef at CL, gets associated with Ferran Adria, with whom he did spend some time training in Spain, apparently.

  3. Thomas: It was fabulous. In retrospect, I'm very impressed that we managed to have such a substantial lunch, accompanied by copious champagne, and still get out and about Toronto for the rest of the day. Such fortitude.

  4. That was lunch?!
    That girl has an unpretentious knowledgable voice that is a delight to the ear.

  5. Anon: you know, just a light snack.
    And thanks on girlcook's behalf -- I'll make sure she sees the compliment. I'm a biased mom, but I think so too, and wish she'd pay more consistent attention to her own blog.


I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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