Food and Wine in Montreal
This weekend I took the train from Toronto to Montreal for the 50th Anniversary of the Canadian Chaine des Rotisseurs. It was also the Canadian Young Chef Competition where 9 chefs under 27 yrs of age competed for the right to represent Canada at the International Competition in Berlin next September. The winner was Emile Goyer from the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal. I had a chance to talk to some of the participants and everyone agreed that the black box ingredients were a challenge. Some of the mandatory ingredient were squab, lobster, sea urchin, parsnips and pomegranates. The chefs are shown the black box ingredientsthen they have 30 minutes to write a 3 course menu. They then have 3 hours to prep till the appetizeris presented to the judges then each successive course is spaced 15 minutes apart. What a great experience for them!
The principal goal of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs is to bring professional and non-professional, amateur members in over 80 member countries together to celebrate their passion for fine cuisines and wines and to aid and encourage the development of young chefs and sommeliers worldwide through its national and international competitions as well as provide international food support and aid to those in need.
The two events I attended this weekend were a wine and appetizer reception at La Maison du Gouverneur and the Grande Chapitre at the Queen Elizabeth hotel. La Maison du Gouverneur, built in the late 1800’s was the residence of the governor of the Montreal prison. Today the prison currently houses the Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ). The Maison can hold up to 75,000 bottles of wine. At the moment there are approximately 55,000 bottles ranging in years from mid 1800’s and in price from $30-$80,000/ btl. During a tour of the facilities we were told that if you are willing to spend a minimum of $5000, you can have access to the list of what they have housed. They also provide a storage service that you can have 24 hour access to. I have my eye on a 1964 Petrus.
The cocktail reception consisted of a selection of cold appetizers like Oysters on the half shell with truffles, tuna tartar, beet carpaccio and asparagus with goat cheese. The selected wine Roederer Estate Anderson Valley Brut from California. For the hot appetizers of Oysters with fennel, Lobster in a citrus sauce, black cod with salsify , mushroom risotto served with 2009 Pouilly-Fume Domaine des fines Caillottes. The final wine consisted of 2004 Cahors, Chateau Lagrezette that complimented foie gras and lamb en croute. All in all a very pleasant evening.
The Gala on Saturday night was definitely a success. The room was decorated simply but elegantly, with crystal looking chairs, and centrepieces that exuded sophistication. The crystal theme was carried into the first course of oysters under an espuma foam. The presentation was in a crystal bowl with crushed ice but buried in the ice was an LED light. This spectacle was followed by the best dish of the night, Mosaic of arctic char and octopus with an Asian dressing. It was also accompanied by the best wine of the night, Meursault, Domaine Bitouzet-Prieur 2008. The eight course menu continued with a duo of scallop and scampi under a veil of pasta with lobster mushrooms and sea urchin mariniere followed by Quebec foie gras served with a quince and black current chutney. The main course was medallions of venison with caramelized parsnip mousseline, smoked pear and baby root vegetables. The wine for this course was Osoyoos Larose, Le Grand Vin 2007, a fascinating blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. What made it so interesting is that with only 2% Malbec, you would have sworn it was at least 50% . The guest list of 170 included travellers from many countries as well as the US and Canada.
I also had the privilege of meetingsome very interesting people especially J. MacKenzie Venters, a Black Watch Veteranwho continues to work as an architect in Florida at the age of 87. “A TRUE OLD FASHIONED GENTLEMAN” who knows his champagnes and Scotch. He taught me that the wire cage on a champagne bottle is called “egraph”. To top the evening off I was the top bidder on a case of some outstanding B.C. wines. Can’t wait to explore them!!
If you are interested in good food, good wine and good friends, get yourself invited to a Chaine des Rotisseurs event. Www.chainedesrotisseurs.com