An incurable epicurean’s degustation birthday
feast of gastronomical proportions
at Hawksworth Restaurant
From the moment I sat down and had my first meal at a four star French restaurant at the age of 15 (a mere 10 years ago cough cough) and discovered Beef Bourguignon, Coq du Vin and Crepes suzettes, I knew I had just become an incurable epicurean and was destined for degustations of epic proportions at Hawksworth Restaurant.
But having a meat and potatoes budget with caviar and champagne tastes means scraping together all the pennies saved from frugal finds and spending them on what I call my annual happy epicurean degustation birthday feast of gastronomical proportions.
This year armed with a $65 Open Table cheque*, $50 birthday cheque from Dear old Mom, I opted for the 6 course tasting menu with wine pairings at HAWKSWORTH RESTAURANT at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia for two reasons: 1) six courses + paired wines at $128 per person is a great bargain ($75 just for tasting menu) and 2) being lactose intolerant this menu contained very little dairy. So onward ho – it’s onto epicurean land I go!
Mother Nature takes a stroll though the forest. Served on a wooden board, leaves of bittarga are strewn intermittingly with the other ingredients of cucumber, fluke and grapefruit leaving a trail of edibles that seems to wander off mysteriously into the nether realm. It is literally a deconstructed salad with contrasting flavours of tart grapefruit and bitter bottarga spiking up the milder flavours of the fluke and cucumber – amusing my Bouche for the equally enticing courses to come. NV Blue Mountain Brut, Sparkling Wine Okanagan Valley, BC. Easy to drink refreshing sparkling wine with easy to manage bubbles of pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot gris with lemon overtones.
Swimming to the top of the pond with eclectic flavors. I am a fan of tuna sashimi preferring it to salmon, so when I saw this item on the menu, I squealed and clapped my hands. I found the unusual ingredients of soft pickled onion, pea sprout, tomato, gelatin, garlic chips, fennel and jalapeño added depth to the contrasting spicy, pickled and pungent flavours and textures that usually isn’t present with any preparation of tuna tartare. The wasabi which was presented in a light froth wasn’t overpowering and I didn’t feel the need to ask for the usual accompanying soy sauce. The only thing I don’t like about this is that now I have a higher standard for tuna tartare and I’m afraid I’ll find other versions not up to par. Alberto Antonini, Poggiotondo Bianco, Tuscany, B.C. A clean crisp blend of vermentino, ansonica and malvasia that is similar to Chardonnay as I could taste grassy and lemon overtones with a ripe nose of pear and apples. This is a light wine white with a subtle body which didn’t overpower the tuna.
Take me to the deli of Jewish delights. Having once been Jewish (true story, my married name was Goldberg), I’ve been privy to sampling the best lox and smoked fish at Jewish delis in Los Angeles, but since then I haven’t had smoked fish as good as that I’ve had in L.A., that is, until now. The sturgeon had the perfect amount of smokey flavour, which was amazing with the falafel which wasn’t at all greasy. Carrot when liquidified has an unique sweet flavor, so I was loving the carrot coriander emulsion which just gives this dish that extraordinary flavor boost. Who’d have thought an carrot emulsion would be a good pairing with fish? Oy vay! Kumeu River, Estate, Chardonnay, New Zealand Another light wine to accompany the fish which like all Chardonnays has overtones of citrus, pear and green apple and was pleasant to drink.
And an oink oink here and an oink oink there. When you look at this, you might suspect this was pork belly by the crackling on top but otherwise you might think its baked meringue as it is pure white underneath. However, when I bit into it, I thought the consistency was halfway between baked meringue and flatbread. The strategic placement of the granny smith apple, tomato, burdock and cucumber made me consider this a pork belly pairing as all four ingredients created such distinctly different tasting experiences. I liked the crunchy tendrils of the cucumber; the fresh juicy tomato flavour, the pleasant burst of tartness from the apple and thought the burdock had an interesting “woody” flavour. Marcel Lapierre, Morgon, Beaujolais, France If you’re a fan of Beaujolais, you’ll want to try this wine as it’s clean and crisp with red berries and cherries and not too heavy tannins, making it way too easy for me to drink.
If eating you is so wrong, I don’t want to be right. If I were the type of person to lick a plate clean, I would do it, classy establishment or not as every single bite of this Angus beef is just carnivorous perfect and the wild mushroom consommé is better (and more health-wise) than any gravy as I do love mushrooms of all types. The beef is cooked the way the French like their meat – medium rare with just a little bit of blood, retaining it’s moisure and flavour. Vietti Perbacco Langhe Nebbiolo 2008 Wine Review (NW) Italy. This is a dark red, complex, full-bodied wine with overtones of spice, tobacco and leather that I found hard to finish as I’m not a fan of big tannins, thought I suspect I might like this wine more if I let it breathe a little longer.
(Picture above) summer berries crispy citrus, dark chocolate
Oh sweet sweet surrender. Every birthday girl needs a sweet dessert at the end of the birthday meal. Listed on the menu, the dessert doesn’t sound like much, but when you see the presentation, it’s an amazing assortment of summer berries and minature bites of sweeet goodness as I’m guessing there was cranberry aspic, cherry or plum gelato, little specks of baked lemon meringue and of course, blueberries and strawberries with dark chocolate shavings on the side. And each little bite as deletectable as the next. Innocent bystander, Pink Moscato Victoria. I’ve this light pink sweet wine before as I call it a grown-up pink lemonade with watermelon, musk, apples and rose petals with a small sparkling bubbles which just makes it way too easy to drink
Yes, yes, yes! Last but not least, some in-house chocolates that came with our tab to sweeten the blow that were as delectable as any chocolates you would find at some of my favorites such as Chocolate Arts or Thomas Haas. My tab came up to $145 with tax, but minus the $115 of the Open Table cheque and birthday cheque, I actually paid $58 ($30 + $28 (20% tip)). Now that’s what I call fabulously frugal – knowing how to cut corners frugally to save the pennies you need to accumulate the dollars you need to spend in order to live life fabulously!