Death Row Meals: Youngblood


If I’m not mistaken, last week’s Death Row Meals: Youngblood dinner was the first one since their 3rd annual Olde Hunter’s Feast earlier in February this year. It was one not to be missed. Featuring up and coming chefs in some of the city’s hottest restaurants, it definitely garnered a lot of attention fast. Using the movie, Youngblood (starring Rob Lowe, Cynthia Gibb and Patrick Swayze—what’s important is that it’s set in Ontario! ;D) as inspiration, the seven chefs came up with a tasting dinner fittingly held at the Air Canada Centre’s Hot Stove Club.

Here comes yet another successful Death Row Meals big ups to the organizer/founder, Joel Solish). Cocktail pairings by Dillon’s Distillery and wine pairings by Rosewood Estates. And to top it all off, a portion of the proceeds are going to the Right To Play Organization (@RightToPlayCAN)—“a global organization that uses the transformative power of play – playing sports, playing games – to educate and empower children facing adversity.”

Course 1: Preparing the Ice Surface
Coulson Armstrong, Canoe Restaurant (@Chef_Coulson)
Crudo of fluke – Gatorade, concord grapes, buffalo yogurt and caribou moss
The Penalty Shot – A frozen shot of Dillon’s Method 95 Vodka

What’s with this ghetto sketch you ask? Well, I was at work, thought I had ample time to subway down but turns out dinner started much earlier than I thought. Booked it downtown, ran in what turned out to be a circle trying to find the right entrance (I was a bit frantic to say the least), and when I finally arrived, flustered & embarassed, I forgot to snap a photo of Coulson’s very well-composed dish. So there it is. I'll remember next time? Also, grapes appeared several times throughout the meal, I wonder why?

P.S. The shot definitely threw me into the meal. Thanks for finding me a leftover shot :] Instantly felt the warmth rising to my face…and my Asian glow spreading. I’m such a light drinker, why?!!

Course 2: The Snack Bar
 Luca Gatti, Sanagans (@lucagatti22)
Mini Chicago Dog, house made potato chips, gravy seasoning
The Bench Clearing Brawl – Dillon’s Gin 22 Caesar

C’mon, how can you say no to street meat?! Now, think house-made Sanagan’s sausage, Luca’s own dill pickles and chips? You cannot go wrong with a combination like that! The presentation was so endearing! A (chorus) of “awws!”, “this is so cute!”, “best chips ever”, and “asdfghjklsdfer so good!” everywhere. My appetite was thinking, "yeah it's cute and all, but can we get one that's 'full-sized' please?!". It was really good...  

Course 3: The Warm Up
Kevin Gilmour, The Drake Hotel (@KWGilmour)
Perth Pork n’ Bean Chili, aged cheddar, sour cream, artisanal bread bowl
Dillon’s True Canadian – Dillon’s The White Rye, DSB Bitters, maple syrup, apple cider

What a comforting course. A bread bowl, how fun is it to eat the vessel holding your food?! If only I could finish the entire bread bowl because it had such a good crust! The pickled celery, nice touch.

Loved the cocktail pairing. Got some teasing for that because the alcohol isn’t very pronounced. Whatever it was delicious okay! The spice rim on the glass was so good! House-made by Dillon’s.

Course 4: “Grapes” a Don Cherry Tribute
Trish Gill, The Dock Ellis (@GillTrish)
Jerk chicken thigh, grain salad, grapes & olives, saba
Rosewood Estates Pinot Noir 2010

Saba is a syrup made from grape must (freshly squeezed grape juice?). I can’t pretend that I knew what that was when I saw it on the menu. Hadn’t the slightest clue. I’ve had Trish’s food before at several events (including the first Death Row Meals I went to, Olde Hunter’s Feast II) so while “saba” was foreign to me, I anticipated looking for it on the plate. The grain salad was the bomb! So good. Deceivingly simple?

Course 5: Leaf Nation
Kellen Crumb, The Hot Stove Club (@HotStoveChef)
Fish & Chips – Sous-vide walleye, pig skin, pickle, vegetable crisps, lemon, caper
Rosewood Estates Sussreserve Riesling 2012

Quite a departure from the classic fish & chips spiel we're all used to. The lightness of this dish, definitely welcomed. :D Loved this riesling, wish I could've drank more than just a few sips (those cocktails really snuck up on me!).

Course 6: Melting Pot Memories
Dennis Tay, Richmond Station (@DennisJTay)
Kare kare, beer and peanut braised beef, adobo, bok choi, beer nuts, crispy noodle
Rosewood Estates Merlot 2011

For his dish, Dennis took inspiration from his culture and background so we got to enjoy kare kare (a traditional Filipino stew, normally made with ox tail). Good adobo but that grilled bok choi, I gotta start doing that at home!

Course 7: Flooding the Ice
Farzam Fallah, Richmond Station (@Farzam_Fallah)
Tea with Miss. McGill
Black tea ice with tonka preserved cherry

Lots of buzz. And by a lot I mean I was hearing from the beginning of the meal, chatter and excitement for whatever Farzam had in store for us. Black tea ice, what a great palette cleanser!

Post Game Wrap Up
Drunking raisin coulis, double-double ice cream, and smoked walnuts
Rosewood Estates Grande Reserve Ambrosia 2007

This is it. Last course. The dessert to end to a meal already full of highlights. Double-double ice cream, how smart is that?! Delicious twist. Also, the Ambrosia was amazing…  

Verdict: If people didn’t vocalize about how good they found the food (everyone did), they were busy eating. There was definitely some great talent that night, and I’m sure we’ll all be seeing a lot more of these chefs very soon. Although it may seem steep at first, $95 for a meal—if you think about the number of courses, all the pairings, the time spent and ingredients, it really ain’t that bad at all! And to top it all off, a portion of the proceeds were donated to Right To Play as well. Awesome possum meal indeed. I’d go again. ;)

P.S. the next Death Row Meal in the works will be in January so keep your eyes peeled!


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