Archives for July 2007

Gastropod Restaurant

Under the High Chair Travels: Vancouver, British Columbia

I keep hearing about Vancouver’s renewed restaurant scene and how an absurd number of new places have opened recently. If you are in Vancouver and are wondering which of these new establishments to try out, let me point you in the direction of Gastropod. Recently named Best New Fine Dining by Vancouver Magazine, this place is run by chef/owner Angus An, a personal friend of mine. We worked together at Montreal’s Toque! and before last weekend it had been years since I had seen him as he has been working and gathering experience at London’s Fat Duck Restaurant before returning to Canada and opening his place.
Danny and I enjoyed a four-star meal at Angus’s cozy 4th Ave digs last weekend and can heartily recommend everything that he is sending out of the kitchen. Just see for yourself the beautiful presentation, generous portion sizes, and original use of ingredients. Believe me, these dishes tasted even better than they look.

B.C. Oysters with Horseradish ‘Snow’, Sauternes Jelly and Shallot Reduction

Gazpacho with Fennel Granite, Pesto and Garlic Crutons

Warm Chanterelle Salad with Favas, Sea Asparagus, Almond and Cider Vinegar

Soup of English Peas with Morels, Basil Sabayon, Parmesan Foam, and Egg Yolk Sous-Vide

Pan-Seared Foie Gras with a warm Lentil and Morel Salad

Slow-Cooked Ling Cod with Panko, Morels, Favas with confit Fingerling Potatoes

Wild Spring Salmon with Wasabi Sabayon and warm Citrus Bulgur Salad

Sloping Hill’s Organic Pork Trio: Sausages, Pork Belly and Braised Shoulder with Wood Ear Mushrooms and Confit Carrots

Roasted Pigeon with Corn Puree, wilted Spinach, and grilled Corn Pudding.

Cheesecake Semifredo, Sable Breton and Blackberry Sorbet

Black Forest: Organic Okanagan Van Cherries filled with Chocolate Cream, thin Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Snow and Amaretto Ice Milk

Tarte au Citron with Lemon Thyme Ice Milk, Lemon Confit and fresh Basil

As you can see we were truly spoilt and all this was enjoyed by just the two of us, eating out like real adults while Noah slept peacefully back at Danny’s aunt’s. Thanks to Cathy for babysitting!And if you happen to get a night off from the kids, do visit this restaurant, you won’t regret it.

Ice Cream and Pickles

Ok, for those of you who don’t already know the good news, or maybe have just heard rumors, we are delighted to announce that we are expecting a little brother or sister for Noah sometime in early March of 2008.

Our little family is growing! We are thrilled beyond words and I am already hoping that this new addition will be a great eater…but we will just have to see. Under the High Chair might extend right into the next baby as Noah graduates to a big person chair.

Just my luck. =) Yay for babies!

Seared Halibut with Confit Garlic, Parsley and Kalamata Olives

Under the High Chair Travels: Queen Charlotte Islands

My brother’s Pathfinder reeks of fish, and I mean reeks. I would not trust myself in there for five kilometers with out a barf bag. However, I figure it is a small price to pay as they now have fifty pounds of fresh halibut in their deep freeze. Nice!

My brother Josh, his wife Laura and their one-year-old, Ava, just returned from 10 days of camping with friends on the Queen Charlotte Islands off British Columbia’s coast. There they spent their time crabbing, digging from razor clams, fishing for halibut, and then feasting late into the night on their catches.

These islands seem to have a particular draw for my family as my sister honeymooned there years ago, this is my brother’s second visit in five years, and my parents go back when ever they can to pick mushrooms or roam the beaches.

It’s been many years since I last visited the Charlottes, but Josh’s photo brought back many fond memories, (including when I met a black bear face-to-face-another story-) and reminded me of the stunning, rugged scenery. It’s has to be one of Canada’s most beautiful places and is still refreshingly wild and unsettled.

Josh and Ava enjoying an early morning hunt for razor clams on Rose Spit

Although I would have given almost anything to have gone on this ocean adventure, I am delighted that I can at least taste some of the fresh halibut that they hauled back in their car, and appreciate that they put up with the fishy smell for so long.
Seared Halibut with Concassé of Tomatoes, Confit Garlic, Italian Parsley, and Kalamata Olives.

  • 1 lb halibut fillet, portioned into four pieces
  • salt and Pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tomato, seeds removed and diced
  • 2 tablespoons pitted black olives, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon Italian parsley, chiffonade

Preheat oven to 350F. Peel garlic and slice thinly. Place in a small oven-proof pan and cover with a few tablespoons of the olive oil. Place in the oven and cook slowly until garlic is soft and starts to be translucent. Cool and reserve.

Melt butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a heavy pan and medium-high heat. Season fish with salt and pepper, when butter is bubbling, place fish into pan and sear. Let a good crust form before you try to turn it. Cook only a few minutes on the second side, then remove from heat and let rest for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, place 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a small, heavy sauce pan and heat. Add tomatoes and stir gently for about three minutes. Add olives and reserved confit garlic and heat thoroughly. Just before serving, add parsley and season to taste.

Place fish on a bed of rice, wilted beet greens or desired accompaniment. Top with concassé and drizzle with garlic oil. Enjoy!!

Wild About Those Duck Eggs

Under the High Chair Travels: Northern British Columbia

I am back in my hometown for a few weeks of vacation and it’s been a highly anticipated change from the city. My mother raises ducks on my parent’s hobby farm and enjoys a wide range of benefits. The Khaki Campbell duck are great layers and my parents eat the large, beautiful duck eggs daily. It was easy to be inspired to make an omelet just by those large dark yolks.
We also had some Bolete mushrooms we had discovered on our walk the night before, and I was itching to sauté them up. Wild mushroom hunting has been a family passion as long as I can remember- I even used to sit and read our thick encyclopedia of wild mushooms as a kid and marvel at the countless varieties and beautiful colors.

Unfortunately, July is off season for some of B.C.’s more coveted mushrooms, like morels, pine mushrooms and chanterelles, but I was happy with my boletes. They made a tasty filling for my omelet.

Duck Egg Omelet with Boletes and Chives Two duck eggs, lightly beaten 1 Bolete mushroom, or a handful of another variety, sliced1 Tablespoon water1/4 teaspoon saltfresh ground pepper1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped1 teaspoon butterIn a bowl, beat eggs together with salt, pepper, chives and water. Heat a non-stick pan and melt butter then add mushrooms and saute lightly. Add egg mixute and cook over medium-low heat until firm. Fold over with a spatula and serve. Serves two.

On the day we arrived, one mother duck had just hatched a batch of fifteen ducklings. When we peeked in on them, the mother made her disapproval known by hissing vehemently at us, but a few of the little fuzzy ducklings raised their heads to say hello. Bonjour!

Wild Strawberries

Under the High Chair Travels: Northern British Columbia

My first glimpse of the Rocky Mountains from my seat at 35,000 feet always evokes deep emotion. It’s a feeling of renewed wonder, childlike excitement, and a sense of homecoming so strong I have to duck my head to hide my tears. This quickening of my pulse and butterflies in my stomach almost make up for the last five hours of Noah using my face as a motorcross course, my thighs as a trampoline, and my clothes as sponges for juice. It’s been a long flight and I am returning to my hometown in Northern British Columbia.

The Bulkley Valley is nestled between three major mountain ranges, has several rivers that divide the rolling farmland, and boasts clear blue, glacial-fed lakes. I could write a whole travel brochure on how picturesque it is and still never do it justice; however, I have traveled a lot and declare this some of the most beautiful countryside I have ever known.

My parents property is a magical, overgrown 23 acres tucked under the shadow of a huge mountain and near a private lake. The setting effortlessly encourages a reversion back to childhood; for who wants to do grown-up things when one can chase ducks, climb trees, catch minnows, gather flowers and pick berries?

Ah, the berries.

I had barely dropped my suitcase on the front porch before I was out in the hillsides, on hands and knees, picking wild strawberries. They were everywhere and they were big. The first taste brought back so many memories of being a little girl, when I would pick handful after handful and eat them all myself, my hands stained with the juice.

Wild strawberries can hardly be compared with domestic. They are intensely sweet, powerfully fragrant and so juicy it requires a delicate hand to gather them. They are probably among my top five favorite things to eat ever, and it’s rare that I get a chance to eat a whole bowl of them.

So I had two.

There was even enough left over for Noah’s cereal in the morning. How decadent!

We’re off to a great start here in beautiful B.C.