So last night I had one of the best dinners ever. I mean ever, ever. It was at Chez l’Epicier, one of Montreal’s hot restaurants for gourmet food – and it was part of the Festival of Lights, a yearly party held in February – the darkest part of the year here in the semi-frozen North.
Chef Gonzalo Aramburu from warm and sunny Argentina was the ‘guest’ chef – and the meal he and his team prepared was beyond a doubt over the top amazing. Unfortunately – he’s only cooking here in Montreal on Feb 25 and 26 – which means if you are reading this after the 26th – you missed it! But write down the name – this is a chef you will hear about again.
The meal – well – it was amazing. Instead of the 10 courses we were expecting – there were actually 12. The first course – an ‘amuse’ – was actually fun – amusing even.
They gave us 3 differently colored food mixtures – garlic, tomato, and a pesto – and a paint brush. Our task – paint the supplied wafers and enjoy. Fun to do – and it tasted good.
The 2nd course had 4 different components – but my favorite part featured what looked like a soft-boiled egg – but in fact was an egg shell holding a piece of poached salmon with a fabulously tasty Hollandaise ‘foam’. Yummy.
The ‘salad’ course featured craftily cut vegetables arranged artfully on a dish with a passion fruit vinaigrette that was stunningly flavorful.
Tricks from the modular cuisine arsenal included liquid nitrogen poured over a cinnamon stick to create a ‘spice fog’ that flowed over and around the dishes, a baby pork belly that was at once both crisp and tender (how did he that do that?), quince sorbet that added a palette cleansing step to a Beef ragout, and my favorite course – an absolutely perfectly cooked miniature Filet Mignon. To end the meal – there were 2 major desserts, coffee if you wanted, and a ‘box’ of cookies, maple marshmallows, and Cotton Candy – all prepared in-house.
My husband was so thrilled with the meal that he actually contemplated ordering it again. Or – 2nd best – go back again the next night. It was that good, that special, that memorable.
It was why you pay to eat dinner – to enjoy something you can’t possibly do at home – in a wonderful place, with fun friends. What more can one ask. Well – if it’s something of Chef Gonzalo Aramburu – apparently quite a bit.