Mulled Wine Poached Pear
Served with a spiced citrus reduction and in-house made, hard frozen chai ice cream, candied pecans accented by the aroma of a smoldering, charred cinnamon stick.
We love pears. They’re rich in folate, Vitamin C, copper and potassium. They’re also an excellent source of polyphenol antioxidants. (Thanks, Healthline.com; thanks!) But really, when a pear is as lovingly prepared to be carved up and devoured as this one has been, are we really thinking about the nutritional properties? The answer is (obviously): “No. No, we are not.” Instead, all the pleasure synapses in our brain are firing as we revel in the combinations of flavour, texture and temperatures presented on this one plate. The cinnamon in this dish originated in Sri Lanka, as did the cardamom that is one of the primary spices in Chai. While both these spices were relative latecomers to Europe, they definitely belong in the same category as the other Spice Route ingredients on the menu. And, little known fact: pears originated in China. We adored this dish at our tasting; paired with delicious coffee or tea it will be a great way to end a fabulous meal
sautéed sausage & smoked pork belly, swiss chard, roasted garlic in a white wine & cream-style broth with a few made in-house gnocchi, crispy fried sage petals and drops of chili oil.
Full disclosure: we tend to assess a kitchen’s ability to deliver based on whether they can do a great soup. The reason for this is simple: we pride ourselves on our own home-made soups and know just how challenging they are to do well. We’ve grown to love Taylor’s soup creations (her parsnip and leek Valentine’s Day soup this year was to die for), and she hasn’t let us down with this sumptuous offering. Don’t let the delicate china tea cup presentation fool you; this is no ordinary “cup-o-soup”. Whether it’s the flavor dance of the roasted garlic with the spicy chili oil (flavours which originated in Central, South and East Asia) and slightly salty cream, or the texture contrasts between the sausage, gnocchi and crispy bits of pork belly, this soup has a lot going on in each spoonful. Trust us, you’ll find yourself wanting to use a finger to scoop up the final drops off the sides of the tea cup (It’s OK. go ahead and do just that. Really; we know you want to!)
Roasted herb beet slices, CaraCara orange slices, pickled red onion, toasted walnuts, mint leaves, in-house herb-infused chevré with an in-house made grainy mustard vinaigrette.
Full disclosure number two: we were both raised in profoundly carnivorous families. The Scottish lad’s clan raised beef and lamb, and the Polish girl’s family considered vegetables superfluous (unless, of course, it was a potato!). So it takes a mean salad to get our attention; and this one fills the bill to a tee. The moment we tasted this we were immediately reminded of the beet and goat cheese salad created by David Vinoya at Wild Sage Restaurant in Regina. David’s signature salad is one of the main reasons he was recruited to head up the kitchen at Hilton’s flagship hotel in Ottawa, and in all honesty, Taylor’s version is just as good, if not better. Again, her ability to pair flavours that at first blush may seem discordant really shines through in this salad. The cleansing freshness of this salad is evocative of spring and serves to reopen the palate after the soup course. We devoured ours in no time, and could have eaten a dinner platter full were we given the chance - it’s just that good. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, walnuts originated in Persia (modern day Iran).
In-house made squid ink linguine, served with seared scallops, Asiago crisp, blistered cherry tomatoes, red onion and Thai basil; all bathed in a traditional, light Vongole sauce.
When spices and other luxuries traveled the Spice Route, the final leg of the journey was very often by ship across the Mediterranean Sea to ports in Greece, Italy, France and North Africa. So it’s only fitting that our evening includes a special dish that brings together so many flavours of the sea, accented by aromatic herbs and spices from far away lands. The earthy flavour, silky mouth-feel and enticing, jet black colour of the linguine pairs perfectly with the seared scallops and Asiago crisp. Yes, for you skeptics out there, you read that right: Asiago paired with vongole and scallops. If you’re a purist you’re undoubtedly “tsk tsk’ing” quietly as you read this. And had we not been convinced in the preview tasting we might have been right there with you, but this really works: like, really works! This delicious combination of flavours from the sea is enhanced even further by lemon zest, roasted garlic and Thai basil (all flavours which came to Europe from various regions of Asia: lemons from Assam in Northern India; garlic from Central and South Asia; and, Thai basil from Southeast Asia).
Currantly Unnamed Pork Belly
Black currant braised pork belly served with Persian tachin topped with sumac red onion and endive salad.
Pulling back the Living Sky curtain a bit, Taylor has a trusted collaborator in the kitchen. Not many people get to meet Erin, who is as lovely as she is shy (she tells us that she doesn’t get out of the kitchen much because she loves the work too much). Erin is also a font of culinary ideas. If this collaboration with Taylor - they call this dish their “food baby” - is any indication of her creativity we’re all for letting Erin spend as much time “back of house” as she likes! The Living Sky take on Tachin (a traditional Persian baked rice dish) uses Jasmine rice, saffron, pistachio and rose water to create a delicious, toasted, crunchy platform for the black currant pork belly. The pork belly is absolutely off-the-hook delicious, suffused with the sweet-tart flavour of the black currant (intended as a European play on pomegranate seeds) and seared to perfection. This Tower of Babbling deliciousness is topped with a sublime, perfectly executed endive and onion salad suffused with pomegranate molasses. This playful combination of Near Eastern and European flavours is to die for; be sure to get a little bit of everything on each forkful to really appreciate the medley of flavours that Erin and Taylor have put together for this one!
Shitake and Garlic Crusted Lamb
This medium-rare rack of lamb is paired with a delicious risotto in a perfect penultimate course.
Shitake mushrooms, which originated in the mountains of Japan, China, Taiwan and Indonesia are easily dried for storage and transport, and they reconstitute beautifully. This made them a mainstay of the Spice Route trade for centuries. Here they are paired with garlic, another Asian mainstay of the trade and a red wine demi-glace to create a luscious, earthy crust for the rack of lamb. Served on a bed of al dente risotto with macerated peas (green peas came to Europe from Egypt) and a light accent of mint, the lamb is melt-in-your mouth tender and delicious. Pro tip: it’s not only acceptable to pick up the bone and gnaw happily to ensure that you get all the best bits of the meat - it’s expected!
Each guest will be greeted with a glass of sparkling wine as they arrive!