On Tuesday, November 6th, Auberge du Pommier hosted a very special evening with an exquisite six course tasting menu created by Executive Chef Marc St. Jacques
. This dinner, part of the VISA Infinite Dining Series
, was both a grand celebration of French food and wine, and a tribute to the artistry and soul of fine dining.
Auberge du Pommier’s beautifully decorated main dining room, anxiously waiting to be filled by hungry, thirsty guests!
The evening was hosted by Wines of France
ambassador, Nick Hamilton, and one of O&B’s very own sommeliers, Will Predhomme. The two wine experts took turns introducing each dish throughout the multi-course meal and carefully explaining the tasting notes of each wine and how the pairing was chosen. All of the wine pairings were from Bordeaux.
Guests were welcomed with a glass of bubbly (Champagne Rosé Brut, Nicolas Feuillatte) and a selection of mouth-watering canapés before embarking on the remainder of an unforgettable culinary experience.
Warm & crispy to the bite with a perfectly creamy garlic sauce inside
Hamachi-Wrapped Butternut Squash
On crunchy nori lavash
Foie Gras Torchon
This canapé in particular had to be duly noted because it was a bite-sized version Chef Marc’s recent Gold Medal Plates
winning Foie Gras Terrine dish! Each portion of foie with dashi gelée sat delicately on a piece of toasted brioche (fried in nori butter) topped with a pomegranate seed and pine nut. The tartness of the pomegranate and the nutty flavour of the pine nut perfectly complemented the creaminess of the foie gras.
1st Course: Homard
Chilled lobster salad, tasting apple, celery rémoulade, roasted walnuts, late harvest apple vinegar
(Paired with: Côtes de Blaye, Château Haut-Grelot 2011)
With house-made lobster salad nestled between a tasting of three kinds of apples, this dish was certainly a unique and refreshing take on the traditional Waldorf salad – a wonderfully light dish to kick off the evening’s indulgent itinerary!
2nd Course: Citrouille
Autumn pumpkin soup, cocoa beans, white truffle, sage, beurre noisette
(Paired with: Pessac-Léognan, Château de Cruzeau 2009)
This course was fun and creative as each dish was presented to the guest with only cocoa beans, white truffle, sage and beurre noisette in the bowl. The autumn pumpkin soup was then served tableside out of large, hollowed pumpkins used as vestibules for the soup.
3rd Course: Oignon
Glazed stuffed onion, wild rice, dried fruits, Eversprings duck ragoût, jus de volaille
(Paired with: Saint-Émilion Grand Cru, Château Pipeau 2009)
Baked with Eversprings duck ragoût and drizzled with jus de volaille, this aroma of this dish was as equally intoxicating and exquisite as its taste.
4th Course: Pot-au-Feu
Cumbrae Farms beef, roasted foie gras, traditional garnish, hot mustard, dashi bouillon
(Paired with: Haut-Médoc, Château La Tour Carnet 2008)
5th Course: Fromage
(sponsored by Dairy Farmers of Canada)
Riopelle by Fromagerie de l’Île-aux-Grues, Québec Aged Lankaaster by Glengarry Fine Cheese, Ontario Tiger Blue by Poplar Grove Cheese, B.C.
(Paired with: Haut-Médoc, Château Sénéjac 2005)
Served with fruit and nut loaf, fig and honey.
6th Course: Noisette
Hazelnut mousse, tasting of pears, toasted financier, hazelnut buttercream
(Paired with: Sauternes, Castelnau de Suduiraut 1999)
For another take on the Auberge du Pommier’s VISA Infinite Dinner and sound bites from Chef Marc, check out View the Vibe’s vlog
below about their experience of the evening!
From designer frocks to creative cocktails to gourmet canapés, the annual Frocktail Party
on Nov. 14th was truly a night to remember. In its fourth year, Frocktail is an amazing event that raises funds for juvenile diabetes research
by auctioning off pre-loved and donated designer dresses – with labels ranging from Joe Fresh and French Connection all the way to Alexander McQueen and Oscar de la Renta.
Jessica Oliver helped spearhead this terrific initiative back in 2009 in support of her sister Vanessa, who began her fight against juvenile diabetes when she was just six-years-old. In its first three years, Frocktail has donated more than $80,000 to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).
Event organizers deemed the fundraiser to be “a huge success”, with more than 600 guests who came out to support the JDRF. This year's event had a record breaking auction – nearly doubling the previous year – raising $30,000. Overall, the event raised a total of more than $55,000, bringing the four-year total to nearly $150,000.
“Every year it’s continued to grow,” says Nicole Karmali, Operations Manager of O&B Events
. “And we’ve continued to support [Jessica] and her dream of creating this event to raise money for juvenile diabetes.”
This was the first year that Oliver & Bonacini Events was able to host the event in one of its own spaces: Arcadian Loft
at Queen & Bay St. Overlooking Old and New City Hall, Arcadian Loft offers nearly 7000 square feet of space to mix & mingle.
“Arcadian Loft is the perfect venue for this,” says Karmali. “It’s a little cutting edge, so it’s a really great place for people to unwind, chill out, and feel like they’re in a club environment.”
And, because you can’t shop on an empty stomach, guests indulged in a variety of passed canapés throughout the evening. Having been at the helm for the last three Frocktails, Executive Chef Jamie Meireles has now “handed off the reigns” to Chef Michael Robertson.
“It’s a great event for a great cause, with a lot of young partygoers coming out,” says Robertson. “So we’re trying to tailor the food to satisfy their tastes.”
Chef Michael’s bite-sized nibblies offered something for everyone: from light, refreshing root vegetable cold rolls to hearty, crispy buttermilk-fried chicken sliders. Auction bidders may have left with lighter wallets, but they certainly made up for it with fuller stomachs.
Take a peek at some of the canapés guests were sampling throughout the evening. And be sure to check out the video below and our Flickr gallery
for a full recap of the night!
Niagara Guernsey Girl Cheese & Zucchini with Marjoram on Brioche
Buttermilk-Fried Chicken Sliders, Savoury Slaw & Sauce Gribiche
Duck Confit & Brie Quesadillas with Smoked Pepper Ketchup
Root Vegetable Cold Rolls, Tamarind Sauce
Savoury Lemon Scones with Cured Salmon & Crème Fraîche
Tuna Tartare & Black Beans in Cucumber Cups with Ginger & Lemongrass
Kalyani Vegetable Samosas, Mint Raita
Thank you to Cindy for the amazing photos!
Chef Matthew Foote (Photo by Cindy La)
Last week, I sat down with Chef de Cuisine Matthew Foote
to discuss O&B Oakville’s new menu items. As we got chatting, though, the conversation turned towards Chef Matthew’s years travelling the world and working in kitchens across Canada. It turns out that he’s led an interesting life.
So what made him want to pursue a career in the food industry? Looking back, he says some key individuals not only inspired him but gave him a push in the right direction – even as a teenager.
“I started off at The Feathers
, which is a pub in The Beaches, when I was 16. I was washing dishes and I didn’t want to wash dishes anymore. The chef said I’d have to be the best dishwasher in the building first and then he’d let me cook (which he did).”
After high school, Chef Matthew made his way to Banff, Alberta where he spent 2 ½ years working in high-volume kitchens. During this time, he realized that he wanted to become a chef.
He returned to Toronto and attended George Brown Chef School
. After graduation, he worked his way around kitchens in Toronto and the GTA for several years, and then he and his girlfriend spent a year travelling the world. They explored Southeast Asia, India and Europe before coming home, refreshed and with a new perspective on food and life. I ask where his favourite foodie-spot was while travelling.
“Singapore has hawker stalls upon hawker stalls. We were paying an outrageous sum to stay in the most dangerous firetrap because Singapore is so expensive, but every night we’d go out to these hawker stalls, pay, like, seven bucks and eat like kings.”
His travel experience plays a large part in what he wants to bring to O&B Oakville’s menu. From last week’s menu flip, here are a few of the newest items on offer created by O&B Cafe Grill Corporate Chef Markus Bestig and Chef Matthew:
Mulligatawny Lobster Soup
Mulligatawny Lobster Soup: Originating in the South Indian state of Kerala, mulligatawny is a lentil based soup with lots of spices added for flavour. O&B Oakville's version starts with an intensely flavoured lobster broth – similar to bisque –, adds in plenty of Kerala-inspired spice and thickens with red lentils. The soup is garnished with ginger-lime yoghurt to cool and compliment the spicy flavour.
Parisienne Gnocchi and Mushroom Bolognese: Developed by Chef Markus Bestig, the mushroom Bolognese is completely vegetarian, made by putting the mushrooms through a meat grinder. Otherwise, it is traditionally executed by adding wine, herbs and tomatoes and then simmering for hours to slowly develop its flavour. “Parisienne” gnocchi is made from choux paste which is poached and then pan fried until crisp and golden.
Butter Chicken Pizza: Combining paneer, mango and tender chunks of butter chicken on a tomato and coriander sauce base, this pizza is unique and delicious.
Crispy Whitefish and Avocado Taco
Crispy Whitefish and Avocado Tacos: Bursting with fresh, Mexican-inspired flavour, this dish combines crispy catfish (a sustainable choice) with a pasilla mole sauce that really packs a punch. Wrapped in white corn tortillas and topped with hominy corn, this dish makes a great, light-tasting lunch or dinner. Pico de gallo and blue corn chips are served on the side.
10 oz. New York Strip Loin:
Chef Matthew switched up this Café Grill favourite for dinner by introducing polenta fries, double smoked bacon and caramelized onion jus to the plate. The polenta is cooked in seasoned stock before being cooled, cut and deep fried. The fries get tossed in parmesan and a gremolata before being plated.
Moroccan Lamb Tagine: Served with a side of couscous mixed with turmeric, dried cranberries and almonds, this dish is comprised of tenderly braised, Moroccan-spiced lamb shoulder with dried raisins and apricots added for a touch a sweetness.
Poached Free-Range Eggs and Three Bean Chili: A new option on the brunch menu, this creation of Chef Matthew's is fated to be a best seller among the Oakville brunch crowd. Two perfectly poached eggs sit atop a mound of delectable chili with roasted squash, crisp polenta, pico de gallo and cilantro sour cream. It is served with white flour corn tortillas.
Oakville is a close-knit community and Chef Matthew is eager to get involved. For O&B Oakville, above all else, he aims to create a comfortable, family friendly environment with great food and wine.
“I’d like O&B Oakville to be a place to take the kids for brunch, but then also a great option for those ‘date nights’ when you leave the kids with a babysitter - we have a lot to offer the community and we have some exciting changes coming up.”
For more information on O&B Oakville or to make a reservation, you can visit their website
A crisp November morning at O&B Blue Mountain
O&B Blue Mountain
is found on the main level of The Westin Trillium House
, neatly tucked into the mountainside among the ski slopes and chair lifts of Blue Mountain Village
. Picturesque, charming and blissfully rural
, Blue Mountain Village (near Collingwood, Ontario) is a two hour drive from Toronto and a popular tourist and ski
Blue Mountain Village, as seen from O&B Blue Mountain
The village can get extremely busy, with music festivals, skiing trips and weddings
causing weekly northward migrations from the GTA. Lucky for me, it was quiet enough during my early-November visit to pop into the kitchen at O&B Blue Mountain and have a chat with Sous Chef Travis Barron, who is originally from Toronto (but claims to be a fully converted citizen of Collingwood). His life at O&B Blue Mountain can get hectic, but he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“We’ve had banquets off site and a full house all in one day,” he mentioned as he walked me through the Café Grill’s immaculate kitchen. “It gets pretty crazy”.
His love for the Blue Mountain community and his commitment to producing top notch cuisine is as refreshing as the village’s alpine atmosphere. As we walked through the kitchen he spoke excitingly about some of the new offerings on their menu
. I found the Slow Cooked Boneless Beef Short Rib
and Apple and Wild Blueberry Crumble
Slow Cooked Boneless Short Rib with polenta, braised kale and red onion marmalade
True to their proximity to the Blue Mountain Ski Resort, O&B Blue Mountain does winter food really well. I mean, after a long day on the slopes, who would decline a hot, satisfying plate of gently braised short ribs? Pair them with a soft mound of creamy polenta, slow cooked with herb-infused chicken stock over a two hour period, augmented with plenty of parmesan and braised kale and you’ve got yourself the perfect winter meal.
It’s the red onion marmalade garnish that takes this dish to a different level, though. Grilling the onions before stewing them makes a big difference in flavour, adding a smoky essence to the otherwise sweet and sour condiment.
Over the past few years, Sous Chef Travis and Chef de Cuisine Jeremy Korten have been braising plenty of short ribs for O&B Blue Mountain’s catered events. Chef Travis said they were eager to introduce the extremely popular dish to their à la carte menu.
“It really brings out some of those holiday flavours people are looking for this time of year. The kale is a winter green; it’s in season and the flavours go really well. Our veg is outstanding right now!”
In addition to the new menu items, O&B Blue Mountain is taking part in The Apple Pie Trail
. Being located in prime apple-producing country, The Apple Pie Trail runs through the Georgian Bay and Niagara Escarpment regions in Ontario. Throughout the region, restaurants and food producers celebrate their favourite fruit by creating dishes specifically for this tourism initiative. The items are available on menus throughout the region and are included in the trail’s tourism guide.
At O&B Blue Mountain, the chefs have developed an Apple and Blueberry Crumble and include a delightful dessert wine made from Ida Red apples from the Georgian Hills Winery
called “Frozen to the Core”.
The gorgeous crumble, sans ice cream, créme anglaise and garnish
The crumble is made with sweet, wild blueberries and Granny Smith apples. It has a pastry base and a classic brown sugar and butter crumble sprinkled over the top. Baked until oozing, the crumble is plated with sweet crème anglaise, Madagascar vanilla gelato, fresh berries and a light dusting of powdered sugar. It's warm, sweet, tart and flaky all at once.
After such a great time (and lunch), I have to say - it's a great time to visit Blue Mountain Village. The crowds are at a ninimum until ski season is opened, there are warm fires to sit around in the village square and plenty of cozy spots to spend time with loved ones.
Until next week!
Chef Amanda Ray
’s inspiration is ever-evolving.
At the last event of the year for the region-inspired dinner series at Biff’s Bistro
, Amanda presented Taste of Burgundy in unique fashion. With carefully selected wine pairings from Senior Sommelier Anthony Demas (Jump
), the event brought together food enthusiasts to celebrate the best in French cooking. The dishes were comforting, a reflection of Amanda’s style and the food at Biff’s Bistro.
With some of the new menu items being inspired from dishes that were created for Taste of Provence
, Amanda uses each opportunity to bring the warmth of French bistro cooking to the forefront. For this 2012 Nine of Dine Chefs of Distinction Award Winner
(hot off the presses), there is always more to create in the kitchen.
Perhaps a Taste of Loire Valley is next… You can also see Amanda on stage cooking a new dish from the Biff’s Bistro menu on November 17, 2012 at the Gourmet Food & Wine Expo.
Until then, let us take you through a Taste of Burgundy.
Amuse: Gougères - Gruyère
Escargots en Coquilles
with garlic-parsley butter
Pairing: 2010 Domaine Long-Depaquit ‘Les Vaillons’ Chablis 1er Cru, Bourgogne
Œufs en Meurette
frisée, lardons, sunchoke purée & chips
Pairing: 2009 Auberge du Pommier ‘Vingt Cinq’, Bourgogne
Rognons de Veau
sautéed with mustard
Pairing: 2009 Thibault Liger-Belair ‘La Corvée de Villy’, Hautes-Côtes de Nuits, Bourgogne
Daube de Bœuf
matsutake mushrooms, braised shallots & semolina
Pairing: 2008 Manuel Olivier, Gevrey-Chambertin, Bourgogne
Époisses de Bourgogne
with fruit & nut loaf
Pairing: 2009 Alex Gambal ‘Clos du Cromin’, Meursault, Bourgogne
mousse de cassis, vanilla & orange Chantilly
Pairing: Kir Royale, l’Abbé François Cassis, Bailly LaPierre Crémant de Bourgogne