And that, my friends, is how I like to start a meal: with a half-dozen exquisite bivalves, a Martini, and a good friend (neither of which latter you can see because well, good Martinis are invisible and so are good friends until you need them).
The Martini, in this case, was Elyx vodka, which my pal Jay Jonestells me is the premium offering from Absolut. Normally, of course, one is all about the gin, but one is curious and from time to time one likes to give vodka a chance. Normally, it’s the booze of choice for those who like to get drunk but don’t like to drink, a key ingredient in Cougartinis, a prerequisite to being featured on DouchebagsLoveGreyGoose.com , and normally I avoid it like the plague. See how tense the thought of such things makes me? I transubstantiated my tenses and persons! One is distraught!
But the Blue Elyx Martini was everything a proper vodka Martini should be: as cold as my ex’s heart, as clear as Fate, as bracing as a letter from the bank. Occasionally one runs across a vodka that actually deserves the adjective “smooth” and Elyx is one of those rare distillates, it was positively Bond Villain-smooth, while at the same time it possessed enough body to assert itself in the company of the two plump, gorgonzola-stuffed olives that lolled wantonly within.
But I was talking about oysters, wasn’t I?
The Kusshi oysters were the smallest of the lot, only about the size of Manila clams which, for someone from Vancouver, was a bit of culture shock on a plate, ours tending more towards the size and texture of a catcher’s mitt. These were delicate of taste and texture, mild like a sea breeze with a slight, lemony sweetness. Best naked.
One senses a theme. Why yes, it has been a long time since I’ve eaten an oyster…and you?
The moderately-sized Joe’s Gold were creamy and rich, and lemon juice was a good foil for those, if you’re an oyster-foiling sort of person.
The Sawmill Bay beach oysters were BC-sized (and you thought everything was bigger in Texas) and honestly unsubtle of flavour. Horseradish time, methinks. Meaty of texture, slightly liverish of taste, these are the kinds of oysters that put my old roommate off oysters: big enough that she could identify the component parts as they slid down her gullet, having deconstructed many a bivalve in high school biology class. Thank GOD in Ontario we dissected fetal pigs; I don’t run across a lotta fetal pigs in the food-and-bevvie-blogging bizness. In any case, they were delicious, briny, and assertive.
I could live off Martinis and oysters, but you’d get pretty bored with the blog, if I even remained sober enough to type it all up, so there was more, much more:
At a restaurant called Goldfish, I think I could be forgiven for sticking with fish all the way through, and so it came to pass that I ordered the Vodka-Cured (was it sick in the first place?) Salmon Pastrami for an appetizer. Or would that be the fish course? In any case, it came after the Martini-and-Oyster course which I always think of as the Monte Carlo Casino With James Bond on Your Arm course. As do all right-thinking people. Having been deprived of our fine Pacific salmon for several months, and fed insipid, pinkish farmed Atlantic fish, I was happy to see that these thickish slices of Sockeye were as sinisterly red as stigmata. As I’m not a mystic, I have to drop the metaphor there; if any of you know how stigmata taste, drop me a line in the comments; there’s bound to be plenty of interest in that sort of thing, at least in certain circles.
Salmon pastrami. We were talking about salmon pastrami. And it was good. I didn’t know quite what to expect of pastramized salmon, but it was to regular smoked salmon as bacon is to regular slow-cooked pork, assertive but neither over-salted nor over-smoked. The peppery arugula salad was a great counterpoint, with a vinaigrette sharp enough to set off the fatty salmon, a sprinkling of fried potato shards for crunch, and some creme fraiche for richness.
Objects in the blog may be huger than they appear. These East Coast scallops (I love it when the manager says “they’re from the East Coast. I KNOW! The East! But they’re actually quite good”) were massive, each almost the size of the palm of my hand, but there was not the slightest bit of toughness in them. They were perfectly prepared and that’s not easy with seafood this thick. Those brown nuggets in the foreground are delicious nubbins of bacon. Yes, yes, bacon has been done to death, but scallops can use the boost in flavour, and this particular bacon was marvelously understated, letting the taste of the meat dominate and bringing a richness and depth to the whole dish that the scallops alone would have lacked. It was served with roasted fingerling potatos, roasted asparagus, and roasted cherry tomatoes, which is the ONLY way to go with cherry tomatoes if you ask me; they’re the Dim Beauty Queens of the vegetable world, but roasting brought out the sweetness and flavours that are usually hidden behind underripe, frosty cuteness. Where was I?
Oh yes, about to rhapsodize about the wine which Jeff recommended for this dish: a white Bordeaux, Château Bauduc 2009 sauvignon blanc/semillon, which is hilarious because my cousin married a Bolduc, although if she gets a discount on this delightful beverage she’s been holding out on me all this time. It’s a buttery, full-bodied wine with moderate oakiness, and went well with both the creamy scallops and the bacon, which is quite a feat if you ask me.
I also had a glass of the Joie, and you’re lucky I can still read my notes from this point on. Joie is one of my favorite wineries, their rose is one of my favorite wines, and some day I will tell you one of my favorite wine stories which has to do with Joie but that’s not today. Today we must put such fripperies aside, as we have one more course to go at the Goldfish Saga. The things I do for you people.
Dessert. Pudding. Afters. Whatever you call it, I haven’t seen much of it since I moved out of my mother’s house at the age of 17. Single women just do not make dessert if they’re not expecting:
a) to seduce someone
b) to have to bring it to a party
and let’s just say it’s been a long time since I’ve brought anything but potato salad to a party. Which explains my love life, but there, I’ve said too much already…
We were talking, or were about to talk, about the Strawberry Panna Cotta on a peanut butter shortbread. Honestly, do you give it ALL ALL CAPITALS or do you recognize the subjugate nature of the shortbread, as a substrate upon which the actual, starred player rests, and lowercase it? I don’t know from capitalization; I’m not German. In any case, howsoever, and whatevs, it was delicious. There was a swirl of balsamic reduction, which catalyzed the volatile elements in the strawberries (and how you dice strawberries that fine, I do not know. Perhaps there is an army of miniature Japanese strawberry-dicing robots somewhere under the counter) and caused the fresh scent to rise, as if we were walking through a strawberry field on a sunny morning. Now, two courses in a row where the main players were round and creamy is perhaps one too many, but je ne regrette rien. Nosiree, je ne regrette strawberry panna cotta pas du tout, no way. The shortbread was beautifully done, although the peanut butter was more theoretical than it should have been. I mean, it was probably safe for the allergic.
And now in my notes I see that I have a recipe for another cocktail . Funny, don’t recall that one…but it does sound lovely. Here it is:
Kiss from a Rose
1 oz Giffard Rose Syrup
1 oz lime juice
1 oz Hendrick’s gin (and no other)
Mix and pour over ice.
Hendrick’s, of course, is made with roses as an ingredient, and I’ve always wanted to experiment with rose water and Hendrick’s. This cocktail is sweetish, but not as sweet as a tiki drink, lightly pink, and rather girly. In fact, it goes down dangerously quickly if you don’t remind yourself it’s a third gin, which explains why this is only coming back to me now. All in all, a beverage suitable for my lifelong dream job, White Rahnee of Sarawak. I’ll sip it on the terrace while giving orders to my Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Meantime, you can sip it at Goldfish in Yaletown, and you can read my good friend Heather’s report of the same meal at Blackbook once it’s up.
The things I do for you people.