by Lauren Mote
Arriving into the most well known mountain city in Canada, where does a group of foodies on a day trip escape for dinner? There was really only one choice, in fact you could say we travelled through brutal construction and the hot and humid continental climate of the British Columbian interior to get to the Bearfoot Bistro.
The amazing thing is that I don’t think we were entirely hungry – but food like this stimulates a different part of your soul – well for me anyway; this food, the experience and now this story – stuffs you silly with passion, happiness and pride. More importantly this will fill you with the astonishment that this young chef, Melissa Craig, 27, has the ability and the vision to create a dinner that I will certainly never forget.
Our amuse-bouche was tomato jelly with lobster, asparagus and mint – delicate poached lobster with that potent tomato water filling. Amazing.
First courses – ahi tuna tartare, with coconut gelatin, avocado puree (which we see on many menus – avocado and tuna is a brilliant pairing), cantaloupe and honeydew, and finished with cauliflower tempura. The tuna itself was dressed in rice wine vinaigrette with chives and dijon.
The wine: 2005 Lachini Pinot Noir, Oregon. This wine was medium ruby, fading to pale ruby rim, with noticeable legs. On the nose, it was developing – pronounced intensity of cherries, asparagus, watercress, vanilla (from the oak treatment), nutmeg and several other sweet spices. On the palate, this wine was dry, with medium+ acidity, medium alcohol, medium tannins, with pronouced flavour intensity housing the same characteristics as on the nose. Overall, an outstanding wine, at the price-point of $125.
Second course – BC halibut, with butternut squash puree, with citrus and vanilla oil, finished with yellow and candy cane beets, and grapefruit segments.
Third course – an enormous Digby scallop, topped with our request of decadent seared foie gras, with crispy Saranno ham to finish. The scallop was floating in a pheasant consumme with speck (pork product similar to a smoked bacon from the Alto Adige region of northern Italy) and eggplant ravioli.
Fourth course – palate cleanser of citrus and sake sorbet - wow!
Fifth course – caribou short loin (sous-vide), caramelized onion powder, beluga lentil ragoux, champagne grapes and sunchoke (Jerusalem artichoke)puree, finished with a red wine caribou reduction.
Sixth course – dessert part one – table side service. This was one of the coolest table side preparations I have ever seen: liquid nitrogen, heavy cream and madagascar vanilla bean. As the nitrogen is added slowly to the large silver bowl with the cream and vanilla, the constant stirring of the wooden spoon creates the freshest “ice-d cream” I have ever had. Toppings include: blueberries and edible gold; chocolate crispies; caramel sauce; chocolate sauce; and the classic whipped cream and cherries. Our demo cook states that only 5 things are required to make this tasty delight – brut force, love, cream, vanilla and liquid nitrogen.
Seventh course – dessert part two – from the cold line. Almond soup, witha poached donut, olive oil drizzle and olive oil ice cream. Johnny and I enjoyed this with a glass of Moscato d’Asti (a sparkling, light and fresh dessert wine from northern Italy), while my mother enjoyed a trio of creme brulee – bourbon, chamomile and amarula, with a snifter of calvados.
The conclusion of the meal was served by the sommelier Ollie – he graciously took Johnny and I down to the cellar to show of the labels, and to show of the recently renovated modern style with steel racks. Suddenly, brought down by another server, was a huge stagette group – needless to say, the yelling and screaming destroyed the serenity I often feel when standing in a cellar… off to Vancouver we go, full bellies, satisfied appetites, and a story to share.