Last night, we attended the Chef’s Table Society of B.C. Fundraising Dinner at Yaletown’s Elixir. And by we, I mean Marty G., his lovely gal Stephanie C., and myself. We arrived at about 6:15 p.m. to a fairly full house, fashionably late for the speeches but unbearably early for dinner. While Martin and Steph eyed one of the items up for grabs at the silent auction (a cooking course for two, those hopeless romantics!) I cornered the nearest server (who turned out to be my buddy Tomo from Yuji’s Japanese Tapas – 2059 W. Fourth Ave, 604-734-4990. Do a blog search. I’ve written it up numerous times.) and helped myself to a couple of “Battera” Saba wrapped in Kelp Paper with “Shoyuzuke” Salmon Caviar and a Vinegar Chaser. Loved the saba, but I needed a chaser for the Vinegar Chaser. Of course Yuji himself was also in attendance, along with the Chairman of the Chef’s Table Society and owner of Bob Picardo’s favorite Vancouver restaurant, Vij’s (1480 11 Avenue West, 604-736-6664 – Do another blog search. I’ve written it up as well.), Vikram Vij. Vikram was working the room with his pre-dinner contribution: Beer Spiked Indian Street Nuts. I got a chance to say a quick hello to the owners one of my favorite dining destinations, Fuel (1944 West 4th Ave, 604-288-7905, yet another blog search will turn up plenty of info for those interested.), Tom Doughty and Chef Rob Belcham. And also, finally, got to meet my urbandiner.ca editor and Vancouver food critic Andrew Morrison who just returned from a Mexican getaway looking, if not tanned in body, then certainly so in spirit.
We were seated banquet style. Joining us at our table were: Heidi Noble & Michael Dinn of Joie Wines, Virginia Jacobsen of Polderside Farms Inc., Kasey Wilson, the food editor of Wine Access, Betty Verkuil, the Director of Development and Communications for the Vancouver International Film Festival & Centre, and Jeff Van Geest, head chef at Aurora Bistro (2420 Main, 604-873-9944). As I took my seat directly across from Chef Geest, I felt the blood rush to my head. Oh, shit. Aurora Bistro. The last time I’d visited the restaurant, my experience had been less than satisfying – a so-so meal during the 2007 Dine Out Vancouver Event. In all fairness, Dine Out Vancouver is challenging couple of weeks for all participants, so a poor performance during DOV isn‘t indicative of a restaurant‘s overall quality. Still, the soup WAS cold and the dessert mighty weak. For the life of me, however, I couldn’t remember whether I’d actually written up a review or not. I confided in Martin who suggested I remove my name tag. Yeah, not a bad idea. As I reached for it – “Hey…you’re that guy who writes that blog,”said Chef Geest, the penny dropping. I cast my mind back. HAD I written a review? Well, it certainly sounds like something I would do. Rather than throttle me, however, Chef Geest turned out to be an affable dinner companion – although his suggestion that I join him and his friends for their weekly ball hockey match did give me pause. I promised to swing by next week and check out Aurora on a non-DOV night. Marty G. was, as usual, the life of the party, talking food with Chef Geest, politics with Michael Dinn, and indie film with Betty Verkuil. Virginia Jacobsen seemed particularly charmed by our Mr. Gero, remarking how much he reminded her of her own son. “He’s about your age,”she told him. “43.” Ouch! I ended up talking wines with Heidi, feeling very much out of my element, like some Afghani tribal elder discussing the merits of Tivo.
The meal was prepared by the sous-chefs of various high-profile restaurants – and all did a terrific job. The menu was comprised of: a homemade sunchoke beer with a sweet miso jelly, pickled vegetables and enoki mushroom tempura from Bishop‘s, tournedos of scallops wrapped in duck ham, choucroute confit of cepes with a sherry vinegar beurre noisette from Parkside, a Coq au Vin using Polderside Farm Redbro Chicken, with cippolini onions and hedgehog mushrooms from Aurora Bistro, Fraser Valley venison wrapped in Holstein speck served in a fermented oat & barley consommé from Elixir, a cheese plate made up of Poplar Grove Tiger Blue in Three textures, Poached Lapin Cherries, Venturi Schultz Balsamic Gel from C Restaurant, a pear and yogurt ‘Charlotte’ with Okanagan spirits Poire Williams, spiced granola and micro basil from The Pear Tree, and Thomas Haas Petit Fours to finish.
I’m pleased to report that Marty G. and Steph won the auction item they were bidding on.
We left a little after 9:30 p.m., stepping outside and handing our valet ticket to, I kid you not, a former minor system lord. While we waited for the keys, a portly transient staggered up to us and snarled: “You guys are a bunch of wise guys!” I sighed and donned my leather gloves, reasoning it would allow me to avoid getting my knuckles all cut up on his teeth. Martin, however, immediately defused the situation with his trademark wit and charm, crossing his arms, adopting an impish smirk and asking: “Are we?” Beat. “Nah, just kidding!”said the guy, smiling hugely. “Hey, you got a quarter for cigarettes?” Steph dug out about a dollar’s worth of change and sent him on his way. The guy ambled off, making it very clear to Martin and I that she was his favorite.
Today’s blog entry is dedicated to Anne who will be off-line for the next couple of weeks. Get well soon and get back soon, Anne. Major Teldy awaits your return! Go Purple Aces!