Over 3 months ago, I had paid for a meal that knew very little about. Frank (Vanfoodies) was gracious enough to take the reigns on organizing a group to try one of Edible B.C.'s Cooking with B.C.'s Best Dinner Series. Uniquely served in a makeshift dining room right in front of the Edible B.C. storefront in the Market at Granville Island, this is not your regular dinner. It reminds me of Outstanding in the Field, where they setup meals in the most unlikeliest of locations. With a varied and powerhouse lineup of guest chefs, we had chef Lee Parsons from Bacchus cooking for us. In addition to Frank and myself, Joyce, Mijune, Anita and Jonathan paid up front for this meal, which includes all wine pairings as well.
As I was walking up to the rear entrance of the market, Jonathan and Frank were already there waiting. Jonathan proceeded to "show & tell" what had transpired before my arrival. Apparently a seagull had attacked another bird, drowned it, decapitated it and started to eat it. Lovely. I really hoped that squab would not be on the menu tonight. Shortly after, we were let in and seated. The draw of these types of meals are not only in the venue. Rather, the whole process of the cooking is in plain view for everyone to watch. We were encouraged to get up close and personal with the chef and sous-chef as they were preparing each course. Lee Parsons provided everyone with a play-by-play rundown on the ingredients and procedure during the cooking process. I was amazed at his ability to multi-task. It shows what a real professional he truly is.
We were presented first with a basket of bread sourced from La Baguette et l'Echalote, right outside the market. Served on the side was Spot Prawn-Infused Olive Oil with Pinot Noir Balsamic. OMG. Other than the lobster oil served at the former Cannery, this has got to be the best oil/vinegar mix I've had to date. So aromatic and flavourful, I wanted to drink it. Our first course was Chilled Essence of Vine Ripened Tomato paired with Pemberton Distillery Schramm Vodka Summer Cocktail. I'm not a big chilled soup guy; but I really liked this one. The sweet and slightly tart broth was accented nicely by cilantro and basil. I found the broth to be strong enough to stand up to the cilantro.
Next up was Olive Oil Poached Snowpass Coho Salmon with fennel salad and fennel cardamom puree paired with Gray Monk Odyssey Brut 2007. This was the absolute star of the show. The serving of salmon was exquisitely prepared. Buttery in texture and sweet in taste, we could've had many more portions of the salmon. I loved the crisp texture of the salad consisting of shaved fennel, frisee and chives. The puree was outstanding. It reminded me somewhat of a wakame salad, in that there was a certain umaminess to it. Savory, sweet and licoricey all at the same time.
Next up was the Tortellini of Grain Fed Rabbit with crushed sweet peas and mustard cream paired with 8th Generation Classic Riesling 2009. The pasta was perfectly al dente while the filling firm. The rabbit was predominantly sweet with some a bacon-ness. Combined with the sweet peas, the whole dish was quite sweet in an understated way. The mustard cream was very light and didn't really impact the rest of the dish much. Our last dish before dessert was the Roasted Bison Striploin with golden chantrelles, fava beans, braised red beets and juniper jus paired with See Ya Later Ranch Rover 2007. As you can see, the striploin was cooked perfectly and evenly. With all the nice accompaniments, the jus was lost somewhat. I loved the beets (nice texture and tartness) and the fava beans (firm). And of course, who doesn't like chantrelles, a nice addition to the dish.
Finally, we arrived at the last course, some 3 hours later. They take their time and so it should be. Our dessert ended up as a Orange & Cardamom Milk Risotto with lavender roasted peaches paired with Quail's Gate Optima 2007. This was an interesting offering; but personally I wasn't a fan. The risotto was not too sweet and there was a nice firm texture. I could definitely taste the cardamom and lavender. However, it was only okay. I probably was expecting a more standard dessert. Whatever the case, the whole premise behind these market dinners is for the complete experience. Based on that, I enjoyed my dinner. Despite the smallish portions, we must consider the fact that there is a wine paring for each course. Thus, the meal as a whole is a decent value. It's not something I'd do regularly; but it is definitely worth a shot if you've never done it before.