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Archive for October, 2010

Sunday Breakfast

So needed today.

Egg sammie with havarti on flaxseed rye…damn delicious.

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8 days of great anticipation. Not gonna lie, may have had a mini countdown.

Too much build-up? Nah. Why would you want to suppress the excitement? Keeps it fun ;)

Get ready, this post has perma-smile written all over it.

8 ladies. 8 little black dresses. Lovely bride-to-be. Private room. Intimate setting. Dark wood panelling, blonde wood highlights. Beautifully grand table. Cream leather chairs. Complimentary flutes of prosecco. Sets the scene quite nicely, non?

We’re ready to dine.

Chef Jason walks in, welcomes us warmly and within seconds, manages to charm the stilettos off every single lady. Hell, we probably would’ve agreed to eat pig’s feet had he suggested it.

So, we order and the perks of dining with 8…wider menu coverage! Excited and could hardly wait to try as many dishes as possible. Most excited to try the burrata and butter poached lobster.

When our apps arrived, all of the ladies waited…bless their sweet hearts. For what? Grace? Oui, of sorts. I’ve had the pleasure of dining with most (more than once), and over time, have established this unspoken “grace period”. Pattern as follows: Dish arrives. 10 seconds to snap a photo (or 5). Nod of gratitude. Permission to eat ;)

APPS

BURRATA
{fresh mozzarella cheese with beetroot, roasted eggplant, marjoram and pine nut vinaigrette}

LUMA: BURRATA

Grace periods granted, and while intent on capturing last neurotically perfect angle – T, upon her first bite of the burrata caught my attention with “O wow, you need try. Now”. I glance over. She’s nodding emphatically. My eyes widen. Anticipation builds again. First taste. Would it live up to its expectations…

Be still my heart.

Best mozza you’ll ever taste in your lifetime. Ok, best mozza I’ve ever tasted in my lifetime. No exaggeration. So fresh. So unbelievably fresh. So light. And the marjoram and pine nut vinaigrette…don’t know how he does it. Frankly, don’t care. Just give me more. Or, we could sit and stare at this fabulous dish all day long…look at that presentation!

[Sidebar] Not a beets fan. Very much want to like, because they’re so damn pretty. And, anything that pretty must taste good, right? Well, with some mozza & v, best beets ever tasted.

SCALLOP SASHIMI
{sliced thinly w/ celery leaves, herbs, radish & ginger vinaigrette}

LUMA: SCALLOP SASHIMI

Always drawn to scallops. And sashimi. Lingered over this one on the menu. Slices of sashimi with a subtle hit of ginger; vinaigrette was a delicate balance for buttery smooth scallops.

FOIE GRAS TORCHON
{pineapple, brioche, macadamia nut and vanilla}

LUMA: FOIE GRAS TORCHON

If heart wasn’t already set on the burrata, foie gras torchon was a close runner up. Cava still lingers as best foie gras, and willing to try others…just to see, you know? And this was close. Very, very close. Wish I had snuck in another taste. Imagine, scrambling across that beautifully large table in black dress. Would’ve ruined all pretense of classiness. Promptly. Alas, next time. But, wait! Must have the burrata again. Oh, the dilemmas we face sometimes.

MUSHROOM SOUP WITH TRUFFLE SHAVINGS
{amazingess}

LUMA: MUSHROOM SOUP WITH TRUFFLE SHAVINGS

Chef Jason popped back in at this point with a surprise dish and the smell that wafted over…oh la. Truffles. If ever an ingredient could be described as pure decadence…if ever an ingredient could add that element of je ne sais quoi… if ever… you know I could go on. An adaptation from his signature dish at Auberge, he served with a knowing smile; knowing we’d fall head over tummy in love.

Must feel nice to always be right. We practically licked our little saucepans clean.

MAINS

RICOTTA GNOCCHI
{light tomato fondue, basil, sunchokes and roasted garlic}

LUMA: RICOTTA GNOCCHI

Gnochhi like you’ve never had it before. A cloud of ricotta. Yes. A cheese cloud. Most apt description I could think of. And not heavy at all. Oxymoron? Perhaps…just go with me here. 3 ladies ordered…3 identical exclamations of ahhh, so good”. If you’re a gnochhi lover, try Luma’s. You’ll never go back.

BAKED SALMON
{gallo mussels, spanish chorizo, piquillo pepper and saffron rouille}

LUMA: BAKED SALMON

The baked salmon had caught J’s eye and if we were honest, the salmon simply acted as a conduit for everything else…mussels, chorizo, piquillo pepper and saffron rouille. Fleeting impression from one forkful…spicy & flavourful. Damn table was too big. Couldn’t scramble.

ROASTED COD
{northern woods mushrooms, sweetbreads, hazelnut, celery & porcini cream}

LUMA: ROASTED COD

Who doesn’t love mushroom foam? Who doesn’t love mushrooms? Who doesn’t love porcini cream? Perfectly cooked. Flaked immediately at the touch of your fork. Fleeting taste.

BUTTER POACHED LOBSTER
{steamed potato, corn, grilled leeks, lime and coriander pistou}

LUMA: BUTTER POACHED LOBSTER

High expectations. May or may not have had lobster two nights prior at EPIC at the Fairmont. Listen, it was the best week of dining and I was celebrating the gorgeous bride-to-be. How that directly translates to permissible lobster, haven’t quite worked it out.

Focus your attention on this dish. Now, that’s some serious foam. Too much? Oui. But, underneath serious foam is incredible lobster. All of the work is done. All of that succulent meat is yours for taking. Sigh. Barely remember steamed potato, corn and grilled leeks…too intent on lobster. Managed a remark about the lime and coriander pistou…something to do with a lovely balance of flavours. Really, it’s an art form – articulating pure enjoyment of food ;)

DESSERT

LEMON TART
{sour cream ice cream and blueberries}

LUMA: LEMON TART

Verdict: Best lemon tart in the city. I kid you not, the rumours are true. Believe ‘em. Light, creamy and tart with a brûléed top and a thin layer of crust. Ridiculously good. Small scoop of sour ice cream and the combination is lemony tartiness h-e-a-v-e-n.

OPERA CAKE
{almond sponge cake with layers of mocha buttercream, chocolate ganache with popcorn ice cream & caramel popcorn}

LUMA: OPERA CAKE

Will be honest. This takes a back seat. Way back seat to the lemon tart. A huge chocolate & caramel fan. But when up against lemon tart goodness, no contest.

Whew! Indulge, we did. Our little black dresses were a wee bit tighter at this point. Worth it? Absolutely.

Overall, food was outstanding. Service was impeccably warm & attentive. From the extra little touches, to the wonderful team of 5-7 who rotated seamlessly throughout the night, to the generosity of general manager Richard and Chef Jason – it was a spectacular dining experience. Many many thanks for making our night so special!

[Sidebar] Mildly disturbing how often I think about the burrata. Kinda like a good date. Wait. Nevermind. Let’s not go there.

Good thing we’re back at Luma on Friday. To get my fix, of course.

LUMA
http://www.oliverbonacini.com/Luma.aspx
TIFF Bell Lightbox, 2nd Floor
330 King St. West
647.288.4715

 

 

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Life has been hectic. In a great way hectic. Playing catch up, and so much to share. Rewind back a few weeks, shall we? My dearest & bestest was getting married and as maid of honour, was responsible for planning her final ‘single’ party.

I had wanted to do something a little different, fun and interactive for the bride-to-be. Toyed with the idea of private cooking classes at the Calphalon, The Chef UpstairsDish Cooking Studio etc. but sadly, we’re not made of money. <pause> Don’t even say it. Blissfully unaware. <longer pause> Fine. Personal restaurant track record MAY beg to differ.

Reached out to friends for more reasonable ideas and suggestions flew in – from inviting Massimo Bruno to cook a family-style dinner to oyster shucking at Oyster Boy to a simple themed potluck to private dining at Toronto’s newest restaurant Luma. The last suggestion came from Luma’s own Chef Jason Bangerter.

He was offering an intimate 14-seat private room for exclusive dining and a grand meal to remember.

Should’ve seen my face.

Beamed like I had just won the mayoral debate.

If the room was available that night, it was ours. And a few days later, confirmed. Bless his heart, this was going to be the best experience ever. Then…then, it gets better. I know, right? Then, Chef Jason asked if I wanted to design the menu for the eve.

P-a-r-d-o-n.

Had Christmas come early?! Sweet j, this was fantastic.

T’was the early season of giving, so I called in my clever strategist and talented art director into a meeting. Pourquoi? Well, common denominator lies in our passion and slight obsession with food. K is our resident chef and E is a budding macaron maker & appreciator of all things French & wine. As 90% of our conversations – when not work-related, of course – center around food, they were perfect.

With that, extremely important meeting was called. Urgent. Needed ASAP in main boardroom. Moi, frantic? Never. Ahem. Ever so kind, both rushed to my defence. And projected on the screen was Luma’s menu. 1) select three appetizers 2) select three mains 3) select one dessert. Go!

Should’ve seen us. Like three little pigs in mud, so happy we were. Laboriously debated each dish, drooled (quite literally) over every ingredient, balanced several options against tastebuds, sacrificed dishes for others… and this is what we ended up with:

———————————————————————————————————–

APPS

BURRATA
{fresh mozzarella cheese with beetroot, roasted eggplant, marjoram and pine nut vinaigrette}

SCALLOP SASHIMI
{sliced thinly with celery leaves, herbs, radish and ginger vinaigrette}

FOIE GRAS TORCHON
{pineapple, brioche, macadamia nut and vanilla}

MAINS

RICOTTA GNOCCHI
{light tomato fondue, basil, sunchokes and roasted garlic}

BUTTER POACHED LOBSTER
{steamed potato, corn, grilled leeks, lime and coriander pistou}

GRILLED BEEF TENDERLOIN
{braised beef cheeks, crispy potato chips, celery root purée, caramelized sunchokes, watercress and wild mustard jus}
-or-
BAKED SALMON
{gallo mussels, spanish chorizo, piquillo pepper and saffron rouille}
-or-
ROASTED COD
{northern woods mushrooms, sweetbreads, hazelnut, celery and porcini cream}

DESSERT

LEMON TART
{sour cream ice cream and blueberries}

———————————————————————————————————–

Best menu ever. And obviously torn with the last main dish, we left it up to the executive chef to make the executive decision. But, oh so proud we were with our selections…as if we had created these dishes ourselves. Can you imagine?? What great fun we’d have.

[Sidebar] Always try to approach life with this much enthusiasm. Good for the soul.

Oh my, could not WAIT to dine. Too bad it was 8 days away.

To be continued…in tomorrow’s gluttonous edition of LEKIM.ca

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