A couple of days before my departure for Toronto, I received an email from Chef Rob Belcham (formerly of Fuel and Refuel and Fat Dragon, presently of Campagnolo and Campagnolo Roma – all in Vancouver) informing me that he would be in town for a special one-night only dinner at Porzia Restaurant ( 1314 Queen St W.).  I immediately booked a table for two and last night was the night.

November 2, 2014: Chef Rob Belcham In Town!  Special Dinner At Porzia!
Chef Belcham (right) joined forces with three other chefs to create the evening’s special menu.

Chef Belcham was joined by three other chefs (his former cooks) to create the special six course menu…

November 2, 2014: Chef Rob Belcham In Town!  Special Dinner At Porzia!

Snacks: live scallop caviar & cream, soft egg and white soy, horse mortadella, and herring on toast.  The clear winner here was the scallop – and fresh and flavorful bite.  I’m not a fan of herring but Akemi is, and that particular entry was right up her alley.

November 2, 2014: Chef Rob Belcham In Town!  Special Dinner At Porzia!

Schmaltz Candle: Schmaltz (chicken fat) shaped into a candle and allowed to melt down and mix with what I believe was crisp, seasoned chicken skin (I’m guessing here because our waitress plunked the plates down in front of us without offering an explanation), served with dipping bread.  Damn tasty.  Akemi and I waited patiently for the candle to render down completely before really digging in – only to have our waitress whisk the plate away, leaving me clutching my unanointed bread.

November 2, 2014: Chef Rob Belcham In Town!  Special Dinner At Porzia!

Squash carpaccio with from age fraiche and smoked chestnut.  When I saw this on the menu, I was instantly dubious – but I was pleasantly surprised.  Very pleasantly surprised.  Believe it or not, this sweet and savory, multi-textured vegetarian entry was my favorite dish of the night.

November 2, 2014: Chef Rob Belcham In Town!  Special Dinner At Porzia!

Chef Rob’s albacore tuna with veal bone marrow, capers & parsley.  The tuna melted in our mouths.  Akemi’s sole quibble was the lack of rice which, she felt, would have made the dish perfect!

November 2, 2014: Chef Rob Belcham In Town!  Special Dinner At Porzia!

Dandelion agnolotti with ricotta & parmesan brodo.  Delicious, but quite over seasoned.

November 2, 2014: Chef Rob Belcham In Town!  Special Dinner At Porzia!

Veal sweetbreads with shaved shank, walnut tarator, spiced jus.  Akemi wasn’t a fan of the walnut mousse and I wasn’t sold on the shank, but the sweetbreads were perfectly prepared.

November 2, 2014: Chef Rob Belcham In Town!  Special Dinner At Porzia!

Brown butter crepe with pumping maple & mascarpone.  To be honest, this one felt like two different desserts – the crepe and the interior cream-stuffed tuile.  Both very tasty but a texturally bizarre combo.

 A fun outing – and it was great to see Rob.  Now, if we can only convince him to open a Campagnolo outpost here in Toronto…

16 thoughts on “November 2, 2014: Chef Rob Belcham in town! Special dinner at Porzia!

  1. Did I meet that guy at Campagnolo? He looks familiar. Normally I would say that all those dishes look great, but my stomach’s been bothering me the last few days so they’re not too appealing right now. I also initially read that as “veal shortbreads with shaved skank”, instead of shank. Not sure what that means.

    Anyway, back home safe and sound from PEI after driving four hours in torrential rain and wind. Whew!


  2. The food looks wonderful, but I doubt I would have eaten much of it. Brains, fat and raw really do not appeal to me. And if you ate live scallops, did they wiggle around in your mouth? Ew…..

  3. Yum! I always skim the fat when I make chicken stock. Now I’m thinking I need to make candles out of it!

  4. When I was in YVR, I walked past his restaurant. I didn’t have time to stop as it was too early in the afternoon and didn’t have time. I have always been fascinated by your reviews and have put it on the top of the places to eat list next time.

  5. That horse mortadella looks delicious…the pistachios really stand out.

    And I would have loved the scallops! Too bad this was only one night.

  6. The food looks fabulous. My culinary efforts were a bit more mundane today: I made a big batch of meatballs and tomato sauce (or gravy) to stock the freezer. And some for dinner tomorrow night.

    @gforce: I’m glad you made it home safely. Sounds like a nasty drive.

  7. A+ for presentation. It all looks pretty and appetizing. That fat candle is interesting. Never seen anything like that before. I would not have let the waitress take it away until I was done with it. Why didn’t you yell at her…”Hey!!!!”? Or a quick fork stab when she reached for it. I do like my bread.

  8. The food you are served always looks interesting – and it wouldn’t take much of an effort on my part to try everything. However, while it does sound interesting, the chicken fat candle melting into the bread would send me into the throne room. No chicken fat for me even though I love a crispy skin.

    Enjoy your culinary adventure while you are young because things change in interesting ways as the years go by… And don’t forget the yearly check-ups and blood work.

  9. Hey Joe,

    I’m watching the Ravens-Steelers game, and I’m wondering if you still have Steve Smith Sr. on the Snow Monkeys? Sorry if so, I don’t think he’s going to do much this game; hopefully I’m wrong though.

    It’s been a busy weekend here. We helped a friend move and when you have a pickup truck, everyone that’s moving is suddenly your friend! 😉 But seriously, she’s a really good friend of Barb’s so we were only to happy to help. Then it was time to catalog the massive mound of household goods that we were donating to Goodwill which we rescued last week from the basement drain pipe cleanup (nothing like a pipe spill/cleanup to make you say, “Just why am I keeping this stuff?”). Some furniture was included, so all told it filled up the entire bed of my pickup and took about two pages to catalog.

    And tonight, David and I threw the football around a bit before the Ravens game started. That was a little scary because it was dark and so we were playing in the street under the street lamp. When David would throw the ball too high, it would disappear from sight (going above the light cast by the lamp), and then suddenly drop on top of me. I jammed my fingers a couple of times and narrowly avoided having the ball smash into my face at one point. When David admitted he couldn’t see the ball on a couple of “Hail Mary’s”, we called it a night and went back inside waiting for the game to start.

    And now my Ravens are down by 7…at least I can be happy with the three in a row sacks by the Ravens D! 😊

  10. Looks fantastic (minus brains)… hey but are his ex-cooks there permanently? May not be as good as him but should be something. 🙂

  11. I just realized that you now live within driving distance… Does Das know where you live? Are you going to be one of those people always looking over your shoulder? 🙂

    gforce: Beautiful pup!

    Good looking food porn! Your metabolism must be super sonic to eat all that food! Did you find a gym that opens when you need it?

  12. Chicken fat candle? Interesting. You can have mine, unless we have a power outage.

    The dessert looks intriguing, I’d give it a try.

    Hubby is on the road, so my cooking is leaning toward crockpot stuff. Did a nice little tiny roast. I will be eating on it for days.
    I made last of the season raspberry ice cream for my neighbor, as half my raspberries come from her canes (which are runners off my canes). She rarely picks, so I get bonus berries. Astonishing that there are pickable berries on November first. Yeah, global warming is a thing.

  13. I would have chased that waitress down for the bread and chicken fat, it looked delicious. The horse mortadella made me sad; I spent all of kindergarten drawing ponies gamboling in green fields, I couldn’t sample one unless it was the zombie apocalypse or I was stranded in the Andes all winter.

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