Tuesday, April 17, 2012

TBD #9 with Chef Coulson Armstrong

An intimate dining experience for no more than twelve diners, TBD (@TBDtoronto) is a monthly pop-up event organized by Dan Gutter (@dangutter) (Chantecler, formerly Drake Hotel, Auberge du Pommier, Susur) and Sukko Stach (@sukkops) (Nota Bene, formerly Acadia). By invitation only, TBD brings together some of Toronto's top chefs (previous dinners have featured Matt Blondin, Patrick Kriss, Steven Gonzalez, Dustin Gallagher, etc) where a multi-course tasting menu is thoughtfully prepared and served to enthusiastic foodies and diners. With a different chef at a different venue each month, TBD dinners are highly sought after and always a sold-out affair (tickets are sold on a first come first serve basis).

TBD dinner #9 took place last Sunday at Waseem's (Origin) apartment and featured Auberge du Pommier sous-chef Coulson Armstrong (@Chef_Coulson). For $90 with wine pairings, chef Armstrong created a five course menu that showcased his personal style and creativity. 

Two tables and a dozen chairs were all that was needed to transform the apartment to accommodate the twelve of us; surrounded by candlelight (how romantic!) it was a casual yet cozy and intimate setting.

Some really really tasty and incredibly delicious kick-ass butter =P

The Auberge du Pommier team at TBD: Dave Matus, Coulson Armstrong and Elliot Lui.

Chef Armstrong with YJ Bae (@YJBae) of Flyj Kitchen.

Elliot and chef Armstrong plating the first course.

Course One: Foie Torchon, Strawberry, Hazelnut Streusel, Brioche

Course Two: Hamachi Crudo & Tartar, Rhubarb, Cucumber, Radish, Fresh Wasabi

YJ showing me an egg yolk ravioli with charred ramps.

Bitter greens veloute poured at table-side.

Course Three: Bitter Greens Veloute, Ricotta, Egg Yolk, Fine Herb Pasta, Ramps

Course Four: Duck, White Asparagus, Morels, Amaranth 

Oaky Smokey: Reposado tequila, mezcal, chocolate bitters, mole bitters, agave nectar, muddled coffee beans, served with a flamed orange zest. (note: cocktail is available at Origin but only when Waseem is working as it is not on Origin's cocktail list)

Dessert time!

A la minute soufflé

Course Five: Soufflé, Peanut Butter, Chocolate, Banana

I was thoroughly impressed. With a four-burner stove and limited kitchen space, there is no doubt that working in that small kitchen was challenging; after all, they had to serve five courses to twelve hungry people! However, chef Armstrong and his crew executed every course beautifully...it was great seeing such remarkable teamwork. Having said that, I do have my favourites :) The foie torchon and the hamachi. The smooth, light and buttery foie gras and the warm, buttery brioche toast were both independently fabulous components (and of course even better together!) The slight crunch of the hazelnut streusel contrasted perfectly with the creamy foie gras. The naturally sweet strawberries also helped cut through some of the richness from the palate. As for the hamachi, it was fresh, firm and silky smooth. Accompanied by rhubarb (my fav!), cucumber, radishes and topped with fresh wasabi shavings, this course had a perfect balance of textures and flavours. An extremely gorgeous and colourful plate to look at as well.

Thank you chef Armstrong, Dan, Sukko and Waseem for a great evening. I eagerly await for TBD #10...