courtyard restaurant @ oz kafe

I feel like the only things I’ve blogged about this summer are my incredibly memorable dinners.

Most of which have been thanks to Oz Kafe‘s Industry Night.

I blame the heat.  

It’s been waaaaaaaaaaaay to hot to bake (especially in my teeny tiny apartment).

Lucky for me (and this blog), my last meal at Oz Kafe was … pretty incredible.  It was everything I like about food: seasonal, smart, clever, a twist on classics … and most importantly … delicious.

Murray Wilson and his team put together one mighty fine meal.

Although Murray is now executive chef at the Courtyard Restaurant, he used to work at Atelier with Marc Lepine.

I saw touches of that on every one of his plates.

They were beautifully constructed.  Contrasting textures.  Bursts of flavours.  And clever.  Really really clever.

I kinda fell in love with the first course: soup.

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First course.  Full stop amazingness.  We were presented with our bowls and then Murray came out and explained what every little thing was … while the roasted butternut squash purée was being poured over all the little bites of deliciousness.  

Every single bite was different.  One bite of crispy duck skin … the next of toasted pumpkin seeds … cinnamon and cloves … vanilla … sailor jerry’s rum … every single bite as good as the last.

My favourite dish of the evening.  

Second course was a sharing plate: fish.

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smoked sturgeon and salmon paté, crustini, english cucumbers compressed in bombay sapphire, cucumber gel, black olive paste.

It was a fun spin on an old classic … rather than slices of cucumber, we had “melon-balled” cucumber … little pockets of freshness.  It tasted as good as it looked.  I couldn’t seem to stop smearing my crustini with the paté … I think I ate far more than my share of the sharing plate (oops!).

The third course screamed autumn.  A hearty meat dish.

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The pork-neck was perfectly cooked and ridiculously flavourful.  It was sous vide at 61 Celsius for 24 hours and then seared.  Paired with sauerkraut, granny smith and earl grey purée, apples compressed in calvados, braised pearl onions, crushed fingerling potatoes, waupoos cider and wild mustard sauce.

The seasonal theme continued well into dessert … a rich and decadent cheesecake.  It was kinda spectacular.

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Second favourite dish of the evening.

The cheesecake and the ginger ice cream … both rich and creamy.  Combined with the tart cranberry, the spicy pumpkin purée and the crunch of the cashew nut crumble.

DE-LISH.  Purely delicious. The perfect end to the meal. 

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food white people eat @ oz kafe

Monday night was not only Halloween, it was also Oz Kafe‘s Industry Night.

It was witty and clever and fun.  It was delicious and pretty.  It was playful.  It made all of us smile.

Oh yeah … and all that goodness and entertainment was brought to us by J & C from the Courtyard Restaurant.

J & C are: Curtis Luk, Justin Tse and Jag Dhillon; 3 guys that very obviously are not only talented, but have got great senses of humour.

I joined a pretty awesome group of people for this dinner … Charlotte (Whalesone), Anna (Mariposa), Kshonze (The Hintonburg Public House), Mark (Town), and Andrew (Lifford Wine Agency).  We all looked at the menu and immediately started wondering … what the heck are we going to be eating???  I mean … we read kraft dinner, liver & onions, tuna casserole, BLT, pumpkin pie & cherry cobbler …  was I really going to eat kraft dinner???

Heck no!

Monday’s meal was a dressed up version of all the classics … smart food made by very smart chefs. Kraft dinner came in the shape of fried mac & cheese, served with a slaw and a packet of ketchup (courtesy of our local Wendy’s).  Cutting through the cube into the creamy macaroni noodles … contrasted to the crispy exterior … LOVED IT!Liver & onions  – a liver terrine, served alongside a warm bacon jam (probably one of the best things I’ve ever tasted) and carmelized onions encrusted and deep-fried.  It was fun to eat and so flavourful … I think this one was my favourite course … Tuna casserole – home-made cannelloni pasta, filled with a creamy tuna – corn filling and served with a broccoli  purée and broccoli florets.  Oh yeah … and the cannelloni was topped with crunchy panko crumbs (combined with spices) which created the perfect contrast to the soft noodle and filling.The BLT – I have to admit … my least favourite dish.  Although it was one of Andrew’s favourites (he ate my left overs).  Even though it wasn’t my favourite flavour profile, it was so cleverly plated … the lettuce was sautéed, topped with a fried tomato, which was then topped with a miso glazed pork belly.  Accompanied by a peppercorn mayo (which Anna loved) … I thought it was esthetically beautiful.  Pumpkin pie – a deconstructed pumpkin pie – the plate was beautiful.  Streusel, cranberries infused in apple juice (delish!), caramel sauce generously drizzled over the plate and smashed whipped cream – the cream is whipped, placed in liquid nitrogen so that it firms up … the contrast of cold whipped cream that instantly melts in your mouth … sigh.  To me … the smashed whipped cream was the genius on the plate.  LOVED.   FYI – Andrew loved this dish so much he ate 3 … yep.  Charlotte and I couldn’t finish our plates – so he did the job for us. 

The crew … Justin, Curtis and Jag. 

I didn’t get a picture of the final course – the cherry cobbler macaron (it was served at the table and the lighting wasn’t great for pictures).  It was very sweet … almost too intense.  It reminded me of a cherry donut.

I hope these guys do this again.  Only I hope that their next theme will be things asian people eat … I can only imagine how ingenious it would be.  These guys are awesome and I think they did themselves very proud.