Canoe’s tastings are notoriously good and this one was no exception. Right now is a special time of the year in Québec, maple syrup season! The sap is “harvested” from maple trees that have been taped, then boiled to evaporate most of the water, leaving you with this beautiful amber syrup. Canada is known for its maple syrup, but we all know that the source of our pride comes from one province, Québec. Not only do they produce almost three quarters of the maple syrup wordwide, but that’s where the tradition of making it is best preserved. Sugar shacks / sugarbushes are used not only as the site of maple syrup production, but as a gathering place for family and friends to eat and enjoy the outdoors!
66 Wellington St. W
TD Bank Tower, 54/f
Reservations: on their site / 416 364 0054 / for ‘licious events: 416 307 3322
Transit: 4-min walk from Union Station (free parking underground)
Hours: Mon-Fri 11:45am-2:30pm (lunch), 5pm-10:30pm (dinner) (NOTE: Closed on weekends!)
I’ve got fond childhood memories of going to sugar shacks on school field trips—did we go more often because we were a French immersion school? I’m not sure and I’m certainly not complaining. We’d have tire d’érable, which is when you pour hot maple syrup onto snow, then take a popsicle stick to twist the cooling syrup onto it. Heavenly. Spoiler alert, we had that during this meal. :D
Over the next few months, Canoe is doing a tour of Canada so expect to see “Taste B.C.”, “Taste Northwest Territories”, “Taste P.E.I” etc. It’s gonna be exciting stuff and I encourage you to save up some moolas and go to one. Taste Québec is on until next week so if what you see appeals to you (which it should because it was a fantastic meal and the progression of the dishes were spot on), reserve a table stat!
Taste Québec featured some great regional ingredients and in a province where comfort food is king, I loved how Chef John Horne (read the story behind the dishes here) interpreted them without taking them completely out-of-context. Poutine (gotta have them squeaky cheese curds!) and split pea soup were recognizable but done with smart twists and of course a high level of technicality.
Bonsoir – amuse bouche (cauliflower mousse, taro chip, chili?)
I’ll add to this description when in a bit. There are a couple more components that I can’t recall at the moment. Sorry about that.
Split Pea Soup – smoked sturgeon, bagel crumbs, Canton-de-l’Est ricotta
Love how meaty the sturgeon is. Montreal bagels vs. New York bagels. I’m partial to the former and
Wild Rabbit & Foie Gras Terrine – wild plum, chokecherry jelly & pain d’épices
Rafraîchir – palate cleanser, rhubarb and sugar
Crazy good. John talked about how he’d do this as a kid since his friends and him didn’t have money for candy. If I knew about this when I was a kid, I’d eat this whenever I could!
Gaspésie Monkfish – Montréal smoked meat, sauerkraut, bacon spicy carrot ginger purée
What a beauty. Every component of the dish compliments one another. The smoked meat took several months to prepare and that effort was certainly not wasted.
Chantecler Chicken Poutine – cider braised navet, cheese curd stuffed leg, pommes maxim & smoked mustard
The chicken leg was so moist and flavourful because the white meat was wrapped in the dark, then you’ve got the skin on top. When I think of poutine, I think of dirty good, gravy laden fries and squeaky cheese curds. The version on the plate here is refined…so not the same kind of carby satisfaction but you'll love it. The pommes maxim (super thin slices of potato), damn good.
Bonus cheese course! Saint Honoré with a sort of creamed honey (not included in the tasting)
John mentioned the honey being type of French “poor man’s honey” in that last year’s honey is whipped with honeycomb? Knowing that Canoe uses Société Orignal products, I searched them up and found that they have a product that looks just like what we had, their Classe Ouvrière Seashore Honey. Classe ouvrière means “working class” so it works! I think..
Sugar Pie Filling – crispy rye berries, coffee foam & chesnut purée
The rye berries provided a nice element with bite. It was a lot of fun eating this dessert because of all the different elements. A little too sweet but it's "sugar pie filling", so what do you expect?! :D
Salut – Tire sur la neige
Here it is! :D Tire d’érable. What a fun and fitting way to end a meal inspired by the cuisine in Québec. If I did this at home...okay let's not think about it because I'll do it. And get hooked.
Verdict: You’ve been hunkered down inside for too long this winter. Treat yourself to a mildly fancypants dinner that you’ll love ($100 for 5 courses plus amuse and palate cleanser) both for the food, service AND view. Just do it. You deserve it! :D
Check 'em out! http://oliverbonacini.com/Canoe.aspx
5 out of 5 NOMs