lots and lots of people,
but most importantly,
over a dozen hot chefs, all gathered to give us a snippet of what the buzz is all about.
Time to go all groupie, my friend; let me take you on a tour.
Our tasting started at Giorgio Ravelli, the chef at Upstairs @Ten Bells, the pop-up-turned-restaurant in Shoreditch, London (not LDN Ontario; LDN UK). On the menu? Poached oysters with gin botanicals, seaweed, cucumber and mini cubes of crisp potatoes.
Turning to our left, we stopped by the lovely C, serving Marc-André Leclerc’s confit fish crisp tacos. Next to him was John Winter Russel, formerly Van Horne, presenting mussel shells in seaweed and tomato sauce. I like when my seafood tastes like the sea. And this did. Soft, yet slightly chewy as it should be, the tender mussels were a definite favorite of the night. A special mention goes to the dish’s beautiful presentation. Austere and elegant, John cleverly displayed his bites in a way that allowed us to eat without having our elbows crushed before heading back to other crowded stands.
And speaking of massive crowds, Ivan Shishkin’s fried steak fish with false hollandaise attracted a mob of spectators. The man who revisits traditional Russian dishes fried his fish live on temporary stoves right behind the table. The result? A perfect crisp batter and tender fish that dissolved instantly on the first bite. What is false hollandaise sauce? Not a hollandaise at all, Ivan will tell you, before bursting into semi-evil laughter ;).
I couldn’t visit the Russian chef without paying Gita Seaton a visit, with whom he created an (incredible, apparently) Omnivore “Maudit Souper”. Presenting smoked clams and oyster crackers, we found in Gita’s humble nibblies all the comfort that her food is known for. In a happy zigzagging spirit, we headed back to the front of the room where La Réserve du Comptoir had kept two last pieces of crostinis just for us. Cousin picked the smoked makarel variation (topped with braised onion, cream, guanciale, lemon and mizuna), while I tried the Armenian-mustard peperoni version. OH my. The spices! A little beauty worth discovering.
Restaurant Maïs , on the right, roasted octopus with morita, pickled chilli and cream. Tender and not too spicy, a decadent little treat, thank you.
Next was Florent and his love of blueberries in a cold soup. With a bit of added shrimp, the broth reminded me somewhat of my mother’s Vietnamese special concoction. We asked him, “did you put fish sauce in this?” to which he laughed and responded that he may try next time. For the moment being, however, it was a vinegar, the name of which I’m afraid my memory failed to remember.
Finally, our last stop brought us to Martin Juneau’s ginger beer float: vanilla ice cream scooped into Jamaican-style delightfulness. The hungry crowd slowly made its way to the dance floor, ready to shake off the extra pounds they had gained in a matter of hours. With a bourbon lemonade for the road, we thanked omnivore for this delicious party and promised to come back next year.
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