It was around his seventh or eighth glass of wine when a sleepy-eyed Martin Gero turned to me and confided he might be coming in a little late tomorrow. I too was feeling the stupefying effects, not so much of the booze but of the twelve course meal we were doggedly working our way through. Festivities had started at 7:30 p.m.; it was 10:35 p.m. and we had yet to get around to dessert.
It was a special occasion of course. Lumiere, one of Vancouver’s top restaurants, had invited famed Parisian chef Alain Passard to prepare a special, one-night only meal for some thirty lucky diners. Martin, his girlfriend Stephanie, Fondy and I were among the thirty fortunates, arriving at a little after 7:00 p.m. for some champagne (Martin’s weakness – well, champagne and show tunes ) and milling about. At 7:30 p.m., we were seated.
There are two competing schools of thought when it comes to preparing for such gargantuan gastronomic undertakings. Some seasoned eaters choose to eat very lightly in the lead-up to the big event, ensuring their stomachs are suitably empty for the meal to come. Others take the opposite tact, overstuffing themselves in the days leading up to the event in a bid to build up a greater capacity/tolerance. For my part, I don’t subscribe to any particular training regimen, preferring to simply wing it.
First up on the menu was the free range organic egg with oak barel aged maple syrup and sherry vinegar. The delightfully creamy, sweet and salty yolk mixture was served in an eggshell and proved one of the high points of the night. Martin, who in addition to being a champagne and show tune-man is also an egg-man, loved it. Our second course was the cauliflower floret breaded New Brunswick scallops with thai curry. Although the scallops were excellent as was the thai curry that accompanied it, I felt the cauliflower breading lent it a bitter aftertaste. For our third course, we were presented with a beetroot cooked in gray salt and 25 year old balsamic vinegar, the caked salt hill presented and cracked at our table to reveal the hidden beets, then whisked back to the kitchen for proper plating. Martin is not a fan of beets and really enjoyed this dish as did we all, another highlight. The fourth course was a Nova Scotia lobster terrine with Tahitian vanilla cured salmon roe. Alas, this one was a miss, the terrine’s unusually firm texture and muted flavor striking everyone as more odd than intriguing. I noticed that the couple at the neighboring table seemed to agree as they took one bite of their dishes and left the rest. For the fifth course: beech smoked fingerling potato “en robe de champ” with chardonnay reduction and hazelnut oil. This dish rated no more than a solid 7 on 10 because despite my best attempts, the potatoes would not soak up any of the inspired reduction. In the end, I ended up setting aside the bland potatoes and used some of the house bread to finish off the sauce. The sixth course was Lumiere Chef-Owner Rob Feenie’s contribution to the meal – a spectacular butternut squash ravioli with Dungeness crab sauce vierge. The seventh course proved just as memorable – the sunchoke veloute topped with a Chantilly au speck, the crowning cream lending the hearty soup a smoky richness. Finally, the meat – our eighth course – the roasted Alberta lamb rack with oriental spices, onion fondue, and stuffed Medjoul dates with meyer lemon. I loved every part of this dish. For our ninth dish, we were served a winter citrus terrine with coconut, finished with lemongrass syrup. Most of you are well aware of my aversion to most fruit so I’m sure you won’t be surprised when I say I did manage a bite before setting the rest aside. The tenth course was unarguably the most daring dish of the night. When Martin first laid eyes on the menu description, he raised and eyebrow and murmured: “This should be interesting.” Sugar glazed white baby turnips with house made praline and old style hazelnut. It was, in fact, interesting – but not something I would ever order again. Still, Martin and I agreed we had to give Chef Passard props for trying. Our eleventh course was a cocoa nib chiboust with jivara and Tonka bean infused cream – a beautiful dessert of many complex flavors. My only complaint here was that there wasn’t enough of it. Stephanie received a special dessert – a devilishly good liquid center chocolate cake with a nice rich dark chocolate sorbet. Finally, for our twelfth and final course, we were served a mini two-tier tower of treats.
Each dish was accompanied by a glass of wine – whites with the seafood and veggie dishes, reds with the meat, and dessert wine and port to round out the meal. Since I was the designated driver that night, Martin and co. did most of the drinking. By meal’s end – which was a little after 11:00 p.m. – I’d guessed Martin had knocked back about eleven glasses (a conservative estimate since I’m not counting any of the refills). I honestly wasn’t expecting him in so early this morning and yet he waltzed in at his usual hour, animated and seemingly none the worse for wear, suggesting he’d been gifted with a superhuman constitution. Either that or he was still drunk. Hmm. Come to think of it, given some of the story ideas he pitched out today, I’m guessing the latter.
Trying to play catch-up –
Cowpants writes: “Is there a particular reason why, in “Unending” you used CCR’s “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” as background music? Also, if you could write for any show or project other than Stargate, what would it be?”
Answer: 1) For some reason, Rob Cooper had this particular tune in mind as he was cutting together the montage sequence and, ultimately, decided to use it in the final mix. 2) Writing an episode of Dr. Who would be cool. I can sweeten the pot by bringing along David Hewlett as an eager guest star.
Anonymous #1 writes: “Joe, when will we know if Jack O’neill is going to be in the movies?”
Answer: Stay tuned.
Anonymous #2 writes: Both take place more or less concurrent to one another.
Christopher Hamer writes: “Is SG-1 going to return beyond series 10 … as in is there a chance that in 5 -15 years someones sais hey lets start that again?”
Answer: I’d say it’s highly unlikely that SG-1 will return in a series format. However, depending on how the first two movies do, it’s more than probably that their adventures will continue as possible direct to dvd features.
Spazzyd writes: “Do you think there was any behind-the-scenes footage taken during the prosthetic scenes in “Unending”?”
Answer: Ivon Bartok took a bunch of behind the scenes footage for Unending. At present, I’m not sure what, exactly, he has in mind for his special features piece.
Anonymous #3 writes: “I’ve been waiting six years for an end to the sam/jack ship and when the show finally ends I get squat?”
Answer: Good news! The adventures of SG-1 have not, in fact, ended with the appropriately titled “Unending”. Check out the upcoming movies – The Ark of Truth and Continuum for more SG-1.
Anonymous #4 writes: “ …and your time travel story- uh, isn’t that a total rip off from the Series Finale of Star Trek: TNG ‘Future’s Past?’“
Answer: To be honest, I never saw the episode in question but did check out the online synopsis after reading your comment. Although, admittedly, it is similar in that there are three different timelines, what I was pitching was three versions of the team in three different timelines effecting each other as opposed to any actual jumping back and forth in time.
Karen writes: “Seriously, there is no freedom of speech in the Candian constitution?”
Answer: No freedom of speech and the use of paper clips and other “products of a binding nature” are prohibited by law. Also, our supreme court is made up of retired circus monkeys (stupid monkeys and their conservative agenda!).
Anonymous #5 writes: “Can we expect Doppelganger to be similar to Sateda and Runner?”