Culinary Collaboration at CHARCUT

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WOW.... What an UNBELIEVABLE event James and I attended last night. We found out about this "Culinary Collaboration" between Alloy, Rouge and CHARCUT from Avenue Magazine a few months back and jumped on tickets right away. Alloy and Rouge have already played host to this collaboration and last night was the final installment at CHARCUT located across from the Calgary Tower at 899 Center Street. 
Each restaurant is to prepare two courses in a six course tasting menu. There were also four amuse bouche's as well! The best part had to be the family style seating with 10 other foodies surrounding us. We met some really great people and chatted about food and local restaurants all night... My version of HEAVEN! CHARCUT has received many accolades and recent fame due to the chef/owner Connie DeSousa who shone on the most recent installment of "Top Chef". We were lucky enough to meet her along with Rouge's owner Paul Rogalski and Alloy's chef/owners Uri Heilik and Rogelio Herrera. What an honor. Here is the amazing meal we shared:
CHARCUT had a signature cocktail for each guest. There was a slice of tomato in the glass with rum, ginger beer and other components that I missed.... Either way- classy touch and quite a unique flavor.
The first amuse was DELICIOUS! This is a risotto ball coated with breadcrumbs with aged cheddar inside and fried with a tomato jelly on top. This is a classic Italian dish called "arancini" that often utilizes left over risotto. Mmmm I loved this one. It tasted like a high end mozza stick or something; stuffed with cheese and piping hot.
For the second amuse we were served a pork rillettes with a red onion marmalade on a crostini. A rillettes is a preparation of meat similar to pate and originally made with pork. I loved the seasoning in the pork and this marmalade went so well with it. Yum!
The third amuse was an lemon infused octopus salad with bacon. Octopus is not my favorite normally on the basis that it is often quite chewy and reminds me of elastic bands. This octopus on the other hand had been marinated and was very tender.
Tuna lollipop? WOW! What a beautiful presentation. We were originally skipped over for the final amuse but I mentioned something to the waiter and he arrived moments later with this gorgeous dish. The pink slab is actually Himalayan sea salt that nicely seasons the fish but it is not to be left on there too long or it will easily overpower the delicate flavor of the tuna.
For me this was the amuse to end all amuses. Unbelievable contrast of flavor between the salt, citrus and delicate tuna. Each "lollipop" had either a grapefruit or orange segment. Wow. No words. Such a clean piece of fish meaning no trace of any "fishy" flavor.
First course: Lobster n' Melon Salad.
O.M.G. This was my favorite dish of the evening. This fresh summer salad from Rouge had cubes of honey dew, cantaloupe and large chunks of lobster meat inside this prosciutto wrapped piece of heaven. The sauce was a curry mayo and the curry really complimented all of flavors in this dish. I could not believe how much lobster meat was inside the prosciutto. YUM!!! Great refreshing starter.
           Second course: Horsing Around Sweetbreads.
To the left is a smoked sablefish, my favorite fish on the planet with a sesame cream. Each chef got up to talk about their dish and he mentioned the fish was smoked with cherry wood and the sauce was made with a ton of butter.... The more butter the better baby! This fish was one of the highlights of our entire meal. It was PERFECTLY cooked and melted in your mouth. We literally pulled each bite off with a fork segment by segment and let it melt on our tongues. WOW. Ever heard of sweetbreads before? I have personally never tried them until last night. Sweetbreads or ris are culinary names for the thymus (throat, gullet or neck sweetbread) or the pancreas (heart, stomach, or belly sweetbread) especially in the calf and lamb. The texture was better than I had anticipated and the flavor was sort of like a pork chop? James gobbled his up but I left a few on my plate.. Not my favorite but it was a good experience to give them a try. The minted cucumber salad in the middle was really refreshing on this dish. Bravo Rouge!



Third Course: Galangal infused Kobe Beef Carpaccio.
This delicious dish had wasabi toasted pine nuts, and a panko crusted deep fried egg yolk... You heard that correctly: panko crusted DEEP FRIED egg yolk... How did they do it?! I've never known such a marvelous thing existed and was delighted to crack open my yolk as a sauce on this thinly sliced carpaccio. Carpaccio is a dish of raw meat or fish and is generally thinly sliced or pounded thin. What better meat to serve raw than the beautiful Kobe beef? Kobe beef is considered a delicacy and renowned for its flavor, tenderness and well-marbled texture. This dish was prepared by Alloy and the Chef got up and said "this is the most expensive steak and eggs you will ever eat". HA!!!

Perfectly cooked egg yolk... Yum! My only complaint is that this dish needed a bit more seasoning as it was a tad bland. Just a dash of salt would have been a nice addition with the fried egg. Either way- what a fun dish to eat!
Fourth Course: Togarashi and maple glazed Alberta lamb chop. Mmmm this frenched lamb chop prepared by Alloy was perfectly cooked medium rare and so juicy. The highlight of this dish for our table were the sweet potato and ricotta dumplings that the chop is sitting on. Imagine a crispy ravioli with soft, spiced sweet potato inside. It tasted like sweet potato pie in a pierogi!
The heavy cream sauce went really well with the dumplings.. Almost like sour cream for pierogi's. Underneath the sliced sweet peas there was an orange tomato comfit which was soft and really flavorful. Yum! Bravo Alloy!
Fifth Course: Slow Roasted Olsen's High Country Ranch Bison Shank.
Oh. My. WORD! YABA DABA DOO! The final entree course was served "family style" meaning we had two of these enormous bison shanks at our table with broxbrun tomatoes, roasted artichokes and baby potatoes. I cannot describe this bison beyond the words: slow roasted for TEN HOURS, fall off the gigantic bone, melt in your mouth masterpiece. We all really got a kick out of the huge bison shank at our table and it was fun sharing a meal with our fellow diners.

Trying to capture the size of this bison prepared by CHARCUT! Loved how it was served in a piping hot cast iron dish
These dense biscuits were made by CHARCUT's pastry chef with Grizzly Gouda. Mmmm.. Love the presentation in the family style cast iron pan. This course felt very rustic and homey. Loved it! We poured the sauce from the bison all over our potatoes and biscuits. Starting to get pretty full by this point...
Sixth Course: Jungle Farm Strawberries in a Jar.
I didn't think they could top the previous dishes... I didn't think a dessert could hold a candle to some of the dishes we noshed on. WRONG! This house made ricotta cheesecake in a jar blew all of our minds. The strawberries were handpicked this past Sunday for this event and the sweetness of the strawberries was all that was needed to sweeten this cheesecake. I loved the fact it wasn't too sweet and the ricotta had a bit of a tart flavor. We were all joking that we wished this was served in a mason jar instead of this cute variation. HA!
What an amazing brainchild and creative collaboration by Alloy, Rouge and CHARCUT. It is so nice to see chef's come together to create a masterpiece. They seemed to have a lot of fun with this and I hope to attend again next year if they give it another shot! Thank you for a memorable meal!!!

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