Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Tempered Beast

Winterlicious 2013 (#LiciousTO) is upon us again! From January 25 to February 7, 191 restaurants across the city of Toronto will be offering exclusive prix fixe menus; some restaurants participate for dinner only while others participate in both lunch and dinner (see the full list of participating restaurants here). For a variety of reasons, many people take this opportunity to dine out every year; most do so because they want to take advantage of the incredible value offered during the event (especially at high-end restaurants), while others may want to take the chance to explore new restaurants that they have always wanted to try, but never had the opportunity to go. Whatever the case may be, Summerlicious and Winterlicious ("'Licious") always generate a lot of buzz - it attracts huge crowds of diners which ultimately supports our city's local restaurants.

In addition to the prix fixe menus, 'Licious also offers Culinary Events. These exclusive culinary events are created for those who want a different experience than the normal prix fixe; for those who want to explore and partake in a "culinary adventure".

On Tuesday, January 29, my friend Carmen (@carmenhunngry from CARMENHUNGRY) and I attended "The Tempered Beast" at Beast Restaurant, a Winterlicious Culinary Event where Chef Scott Vivian of Beast Restaurant (Twitter: @BeastRestaurant, Facebook: Beast) and Chef Bertrand Alepee (Twitter: @TheTemperedChef) joined forces and created a unique, 4-course tasting dinner which showcased a variety of their favourite dishes. "The Tempered Beast" was held for two consecutive nights and was a sold-out event.

 I started the night off with a...

Mon Cheri Manhattan
Grants blend whiskey, Rosewood Estates cherry honey wine, syrup ($5)

Bread to start.

Our 4-course dinner:

Scott Vivian
Sweet potato and peanut soup, salsa verde, creme fraiche

Bertrand Alepee
Haddock fume poche au beurre, poitrine de Berkshire, marmelade de fenouil au pamplemousse, emulsion a l'ail cremeuse

Scott Vivian
Braised beef brisket, parsnip puree, red fife, nora-cranberry sauce

Bertrand Alepee
Castel au praline, mousse de fromage de chevre, confit d'abricot au the Earl Grey, nougatine aux amandes

Carmen and I both really enjoyed "The Tempered Beast" dinner. Chef Vivian's soup was an excellent start to the evening; in addition to it being visually stunning with its warm orange tone, the soup was hot, smooth, and creamy. I was able to taste all the elements in it as well: the nuttiness of the peanut, the sweetness of the sweet potato and the slight heat from the salsa verde. All the components were in perfect harmony, a truly tasty soup. Next up, chef Alepee's haddock was incredibly buttery and tasty, and I savoured every bite of it. I thought the fennel and grapefruit was a very unique flavour combination and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole plate. The third course was a beautiful and tender piece of beef brisket (yes I just used "beautiful" to describe beef brisket) which sat on top of a pool of luscious parsnip puree in company with red fife, which added great texture to the overall dish. Last, but not least, chef Alepee's dessert. This was such a delight, one of the best desserts I've had in awhile. The large "macaron" was very delicate and with the combination of the airy praline mousse and goat cheese, this dessert was delicious and light, a perfect finish after the savoury beef brisket just prior. The almond brittle and the apricots (which were real apricots by the way and not the dried stuff) were a really nice touch. Fabulous tasting menu courtesy of two very talented chefs!

FYI: Chef Scott Vivian and Chef Bertrand Alepee are part of The Group of Seven Chefs. They have an awesome 5-course tasting menu coming up on Monday, February 18 called "Chocolate Inspired Dinner with SOMA" held IN the SOMA Roasting Factory... and yes, every course will be chocolate inspired! Check it out!