Wednesday, July 11th Chef Michael G. Smith was busy cooking up an Italian-sized serving of the Culinary Tour, while fellow Gladstone blogger, Linda Yahya, was busy eating and writing about it. Here’s what she had to report:
Chorizos; chutney; risotto; Kimchi – our own backyard is evidently full of worldly cuisine. As a tribute to the various flavour stations of Toronto’s international neighbourhoods, the Gladstone Hotel continues to explore with its Culinary Tour; most recently with a trip to College Street’s Little Italy. Executive Chef Michael G. Smith prepared a delizioso experience, rivaling any nonna’s cooking. Arriving a bit early for the event taking place in their Victorian Cafe, I decided to sample a little red to get the evening started right. Bartender Mike recommended the 2009 Rampant Red Shiraz Cabernet Merlot, a full-bodied wine with a bite from Australia! Things just kept getting better as the night went on. To officially kick things off, Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Hillebrand Estate Winery served some welcoming Trius Brut bubbly and offered perfect pairings at every course throughout.
Summer on a plate was the first course: a green bean bean panzanella salad topped with such delicacies as white anchovies, fresh cucumbers and fava beans, drizzled with a delicate white truffle vinaigrette and paired with Trius Sauvignon Blanc 2011.
House made pappardelle followed (for those not well-versed in Italian noodle terminology–a flat pasta cut into a broad ribbon shape with ruffles), with a sunflower seed salsa verde pasta, perfectly paired with Hillebrand Artist Series Gamay Noir 2010.
Thinking it couldn’t possibly get any better, Michael introduced the star of the evening; a pan seared halibut with chickpea panelle and caramelized zucchini with Trius Chardonnay 2011 complementing this savoury explosion.
I had a chance to chat with Michael briefly as he made his rounds to greet satisfied diners and it was obvious to me that he takes such pride in getting a chance to play around with food and flavours creatively. I fully admire that attitude, as I am a huge fan of mixing unsuspecting combinations.
The dinner ended on a (sugar) high note with grapes + berries + bread pudding + panna gelato for a seasonally sunny dessert. The paired Hillebrand Late Harvest Vidal 2010 was one of the most top-notch dessert wines I’ve had, and to be honest, dessert wines aren’t even really my thing. I may have ordered two glasses. But I digress.
The four-course experience can only be summed up in the following way: it was as if we were transported to a Tuscan paradise, invited to sample the jewels of the land.
Join us for the next Culinary Tour on August 8 when Chef Michael G. Smith will delve into the tastes of Koreatown. You can buy tickets online here.