Well, as predicted, my birthday dinner at Fuel was pretty incredible. Apparently, Chef Belcham and his crew were working on the special event meal preparation all day and, in the end, all of their hard work paid off. Well, at least it did for Fondy and I who enjoyed a fantastic nine-course dinner.
Now, whenever I do a write-up, I don’t usually mention the bread and butter service, but I have to make an exception here. We weren’t served just any bread and butter to kick things off. We were presented with in-house homemade rye bread, served oven warm, with regular butter AND goat butter. Goat butter! Fondy and I were a little leery – until we tried it. We were mightily impressed. It was remarkably light and notably sweeter than its traditional counterpart. A pleasant surprise.
We started with the soups, a pine mushroom broth with albacore tuna tartare for Fondy and a lentil soup with smoked chicken and bacon for myself. As someone who has often viewed lentils as a necessary evil, I have to admit they worked very well pureed to a velvety texture and married to sweet smokiness of the chicken and bacon. It was very good, but Fondy’s soup was the winner: clear, clean, and fairly bursting with the earthy flavor of matsutake.
Next came the salads – red kuri squash with pine nuts, wild greens, birch syrup, and cider vinegar for her and a matsutake salad with romaine and egg yolk emulsion for me. Both excellent.
The third course was seafood. Fondy enjoyed an ultra rare albacore served with pickled vegetables, coriander, and charred walla wallas that captured the texture and aroma of the many Vietnamese sandwiches we’ve enjoyed since moving to Vancouver. I had a plump, beautifully seared scallop.
We followed up with a foie gras course: a torchon for Fondy and a mousse for myself Both were terrific but I have to give the nod to Fondy’s mouth-meltingly good torchon.
Next up were the truffled dishes. I enjoyed an incredible black truffle risotto that I was prepared to crown dish of the night right then and there – until I sampled Fondy’s black truffle carbonara. The secret is out. Tom and Rob will be opening a second restaurant, Campganolo, in the coming months and if this dish was a sneek peak at the home made pasta they’ll be serving there, I guarantee it will prove immensely successful.
We were then presented with our sixth course: Scott Island ling cod with artichokes and breadcrumbs for the lady and a wild BC salmon served with chanterelles, flagolets, and carrots for the birthday boy. Fondy found her ling cod a little undercooked for her taste so I ended up pulling double duty and finishing both.
By this point, we were about ready for dessert. However, Chef Rob wasn’t. Our seventh course was a foie gras consomme-poached Polderside chicken breast with celeriac and celery branch. The chicken was incredibly tender, the foie gras consomme nothing short of unbelievable.
After alerting the kitchen staff to the fact that we were about to tap out, we were served our final savory course: a stuffed lamb neck with cucumber and yoghurt for me and beef cap served with corned tongue and brussel sprouts for Fondy. The lamb neck was all sorts of delicious while the beef cap was perhaps the most tender cut of beef I’ve ever had the pleasure of sampling. I say sampling because, even though she claimed she couldn’t eat another bite before the dish arrived, Fondy had absolutely no problem finishing it.
For dessert, two chocolate domes – Fondy’s, seemingly made to order, served with pain perdu and maple syrup while mine was served with pistachio ice cream and chocolate soil.
Thanks to Rob, Tom, and the rest of the gang at Fuel for a truly memorable birthday dinner.
And also thanks to Narelle who commemorated my special day with a blog post of her own titled “Joseph Mallozzi – This Is Your Blog’s Life” that traces this blog from its humble beginnings to its present high-flying success:
To those of you wondering what the hell Cookie Monster is doing responding to my spam emails, go here for a brief explanation, and many more missives from the likes of Cookie Monster, arch-villain Baron Destructo, and the opportunistic Aloysius P. Hazzencockle:
Finally, thanks to everyone who posted birthday wishes. I’ll be playing catch-up with the mailbag in the coming days. And working on the outline for the SGA movie (after a discussion with Paul today), continuing work on my super, secret project (now four whole pages and counting), booking my upcoming trips (L.A., Vegas, and Tokyo), coming up with a title for that horror pitch (still nothing), and getting started on the upcoming book of the month club selections: The Traveler (John Twelve Hawks), Acacia (David Anthony Durham), and Necroscope (Brian Lumley).
Speaking of which – hope you’ve all started reading!