Boulevard Kitchen and Oyster Bar Vancouver
When I was in Vancouver last, I had all sorts of adventures, a wedding where I catered the rehearsal dinner for 35, helped a friend at a fundraiser called the Chocolate Challenge to raise money to feed disadvantaged children in the Strathcona area of Vancouver, assisted my sister Ruth with the Vancouver Chaine des Rotisseurs Young Chef Competition and volunteered at the Chef's Table Society Spot Prawn Festival. I couldn't leave Vancouver without having a few great meals and the Boulevard Kitchen and Oyster Bar fit the bill.
We asked the chef to provide us with a tasting menu paired with a flight of wines and got way more than what we expected. My guests were Tash, my daughter who lives in Germany, my sister Ruth whom I enjoy every moment we are together and who is my adventure companion and our good friend Celine, who is the Executive Director of the Chef's Table Society. From the moment we drove up to the hotel till we said "good night", we were treated like VIPS.
When I was in Vancouver in March, I had the opportunity to sit in on a cooking class presented by the Executive Chef of the Boulevard, Alex Chen. Alex has had a fascinating career working all over the world and placing in the top ten in the prestigious Bocuse d'Or culinary competition in Lyon France while competing for Canada in 2013. Although Alex wasn't in the kitchen the night we were there, his Chef de cuisine, Roger Ma brought his A game and created an amazing menu.
Another member of the team that needs more then a mention is the Maitre d', Brian Hopkins. He engaged with us and made sure every detail of the evening was perfect including presenting us with the unique menu including the wines and presenting us each a copy for a keep sake. The rest of the waite staff that attended our table were truly professional. What a way to start an evening.
Photos of the dishes mentioned below are in the Boulevard album
Mushroom duxelle, deviled duck egg, melba toast
Firstly, the presentation was beautiful with the stark white beans and the contrast of the dark bowl and spoon. You could tell that the mushrooms were chopped by hand and not in a processor as the texture of the duxelle was even throughout. the creaminess of the duck egg and the crunch of the toast was a perfect bite.
soy braised daikon, yuzu kosho, dash, aosa, crispy yuba
This was one of my favourite dishes. I love sushi but this dish takes Japanese cuisine to a new level. Hamachi is an amberjack commonly used in sushi but Boulevard cures it for 8 minutes in a citrus salt/sugar coating. Chef Chen told us at the cooking class to do it to all your fish before cooking and it will prevent the ugly albumin from being released during cooking. Under each piece of hamachi was a soy braised piece of daikon. Who knew daikon could taste so great. Yuzukosho is a Japanese seasoning made of chili peppers, yuzu peel and salt then allowed to ferment. Aosa is a bright green sea lettuce commonly used in Japanese cosmetics but delightfully tasty and finally, yuba is the skin of tofu which they have deep fried to puff up like a crisp.
Tantalus Riesling, Okanagan Valley, B.C.
This is an amazing Canadian Riesling, the aromas are almost tropical with lime and mango but the taste is reminiscent of the Okanagan with ripe pear and tangerine followed by a hint of spice. A definite buy.
Green and White Asparagus Salad
crispy duck egg, grainy mustard dressing, marcona almonds, herb emulsion, smoked ikura
A perfect sous vide duck egg wrapped in kataifi (shredded filo) and deep fried was the focus of this dish. When you cut into it, the yolk oozed its beautiful golden centre to mingle with the mustard dressing and herb emulsion to coat the bed of micro greens. Adding texture and flavour were the macron almonds (queen of almonds from Spain) and smoked ikura (roe).
Lock and Worth Semillon, Okanagan Valley, B.C.
This wine was unique in that it comes from a single vineyard, and this particular semillon was whole cluster pressed, naturally fermented, raised in a neutral French oak for 14 months without disturbing and was bottled unfiltered. It was dry, and had the taste of fresh squeezed apples and green tea.It stood up well to the duck egg.
Roasted Ling Cod
chaing mai sausage, stewed peppers, clams, thai basil pesto
Ling cod has made a revival from the 70's and 80's as a meaty fish that taste great without a batter on it. The dish was reminiscent of an Asian Paella minus the rice. The sausage was mildly spicy and the clam succulent, I thought the Thai basil pesto would be great on anything.
Rocca Di Montemassi, Calasae, Vermentino, Maremma toscana doc, Italy
This white wine had hints of spice and ripening fruit and the flavour is fresh with splashes of citrus and almonds. A great spring wine to serve with seafood.
Red Wine Braised Pork Cheeks
steel cut oats, baby kale, glazed carrots, mustard jus
I love beef cheeks but these pork cheeks were outstanding. Instead of the expected polenta or risotto, Chef made an oat risotto with wilted very tender kale and red glazed carrots. Definitely getting full!
Andeluna 1300, malbec, Mendoza, Argentina
This wine has won all sorts of awards and deservedly so.The bouquet is of lavender and strawberries with flavours of ripe red currents, plums and cherries with hints of chocolate and a pink peppercorns. I have already bought a couple of bottles.
Salted Sesame Praline Bar
roasted black and white sesame praline crunch, sesame mousse, caramel ice cream
chocolate ganache, coffee buttercream and biscuit, hazelnut praline, chocolate glacage, coffee ice cream
cheese mousse and soufflé , shortbread crumble, raspberry sorbet
Grapefruit and Pistachio Vecherin
pistachio cream, grapefruit parfait, meringue, cream cheese ice cream
We were assuming that we would each get the same dessert but in VIP fashion, we eat got a different one with sharing utensils for everyone. Trying to remember each one has become a challenge but I can tell you that the best was the grapefruit and pistachio vecherin. The combination of the two with the super crunchy meringue sparked all the senses but the cream cheese ice cream was to die for. Wow!
La Stella, moscato d'osoyoos, B.C.
They couldn't have ended the evening on a better note then with this luscious dessert wine. This wine was inspired by the Moscato d'Asti in the Piedmont region. Slight effervescence along with rose petals, orange blossom, peach and melon make the perfect dessert wine.
Kudos to the whole team at Boulevard and thanks to my companions for making a great evening outstanding. By the way, Boulevard is one of the newest members of the Vancouver Chaine des Rotisseurs and their young chef Nathan will be representing Vancouver in Ottawa in October at the National Young Chef Competition.