I had an amazing dinner with a friend of mine. I've been reading about Chef Hamid Salimian (executive Chef of Diva) on a popular food blog - so I've been interested in trying his food out for awhile. He's also one of the chefs that I've heard of dabbling in molecular gastronomy in his dishes. One day I just called up a friend - want to go out for dinner? And away we went!
This is the bread course. Left to right: Onion and Nuts, Rye, Ciabatta. Sprinkled on the butter is 'brown butter powder'
An amuse bouche is a complementary gift that the chef prepares for you. It's supposed to be one bite and gets you excited for the meal to come.
Olive marshmallow starter was very interesting. It already sets the tone that this meal will stretch your culinary palette beyond a typical meal. It was pillowy soft and texture was like a marshmallow but with that olive flavour and basil accent.
Amuse Bouche #2 - Crispy Salmon Skin with Liquid Nitrogen blasted Gravlox
I love the crispy salmon texture. It had a nice crackle to it when I bit into it. Inside it had a cold pure type of filling. I don't know what a Gravlox is, but it tasted almost like salmon mousse. I really enjoyed this one.
Amuse Bouche #3 - Parsnip and Mapled Cured Bacon
This tasted like crispy maple bacon, but it was perfectly flat, and no greasy texture at all. The maple syrup and smokey cured bacon flavoured balanced each other very nicely.
Amuse bouche #4 - Parmasean crisp with eggplant and onion purée
This was very light and delicate. Although parmesan crisp is not an original concept, I never seen it quite like this.
Amuse Bouche #5 - Potato crisp with truffle shavings
This tasted like one of those kettle chips, i.e. Thunder crunch. But it's so thin - it's transparent. Even though it's delicate, it still had a crunch to it. My dining companion and I puzzled on how it was made.
Amuse bouche #6 - Brioche topped with creme fresh and sturgeon caviar.
The caviar flavour was very subtle and it didn't have the salty briny flavour I associate with caviar.
Amuse Bouche #7 - Liquid Nitrogen grapefruit soda
This served as our palette cleanser before our first course. It tasted like frozen grapefruit soda!
Hidden underneath the topping (I couldn't remember what the topping was) was the beef tartare. It had both the creamy elements and acidic, bright limey elements that I enjoyed when I had beef tartare @ The Market. Instead of spreading it on a canopy that most tartare is served with - it came with beef tendon puffs! The puffs almost had a texture of pork rinds which was an interesting pairing with the tartare.
Sunshine coast sturgeon
The sturgeon was cured, and was accompanied by some prawn, dill ash cured scallop, salmon roe, and champagne jelly. I enjoyed the cured flavours of the seafood and when I bit into the champagne jelly it transformed the dish again and brought out different flavours. It was topped with grated egg. What's grated egg you ask? I'm not sure either. The server was trying to explain how it was made and all I got was that it took many days just to get the egg itself prepared.
Puffed Fois Gras
This was really interesting. Normally when I have fois gras it's either pan seared, or made into a pate. This is the first time I had it in a puffy light texture. It's served to you cold, but you spread it on top of warm brioche and it melts into the bread. When you eat it you get the light puffy texture, but then it turns melts into that rich creaminess that you associate with fois gras.
This dish was featured on Chef Salimian's column in the Vancouver Sun.
If you don't know what sweetbreads are - you don't want to know. Sweetbread is something that if you don't know what it is - you'll think it tastes great. But once you know - it'll probably turn you off. Hint: sweetbreads are neither sweet or a bread.
Despite knowing what sweetbreads are, I enjoy eating them on rare occasions. The offal flavour was very carefully controlled, and I only got a hint of it when eating it.
White alba truffles with smoke pork hock
This dish has a very comforting flavour. My dining companion says it reminds him of chicken noodle soup and that it was his favorite dish of the evening. An entire white truffle was supposed to be in this dish but I couldn't even smell that truffle earthiness nor taste it. The noodles I found interesting though. No wheat was used to make the noodles at all - but they somehow turned a cipollini onion into the noodles. There is no oniony flavour at all either.
Accompanying the squab was pomegranate pure, walnut, deep fried kale, quinoa.
This is just a single breast of the squab. No gaminess at all and pairing it with the tart pomegranate was interesting. The chef came from Iran and our server says that this dish reminds him of back home. Apparently pairing the tart flavours with savoury dishes is common in persian cuisine.
Leek ash crusted beef tenderloin
The round white ball you see at the top of the plate was a horseradish cloud. Have you ever ate a cloud before? I can say I have now! You break into it and taste it - and it's texture is what I imagine a cloud to taste like! The horseradish flavour was there but not overwhelming. On the left hidden underneath the crisp was something that tasted like a cheese dumpling. The dark green smear at the bottom of the plate was sunchoke pure.
The tenderloin itself (hidden on the top right under the crisp) was covered in black - apparently that was the leek ash. It was sous vide prepared and cooked to a perfect medium rare.
Underneath the chocolate wafer was hazelnuts. The top of the plate was hazelnut ice cream.