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.
Chef Belcham was joined by three other chefs (his former cooks) to create the special six course menu…
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.
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.
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.
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!
Dandelion agnolotti with ricotta & parmesan brodo. Delicious, but quite over seasoned.
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.
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…