After three years spent patiently waiting, I recently checked off a much anticipated item on my Toronto restaurant to do list. I was giddy with excitement as I zoomed up the TD Bank Tower to the 54th floor. The elevator doors chimed, there I was standing in front of one of Toronto’s most celebrated fine dining restaurants, Canoe by Oliver and Bonacini.
I took a quick left and found myself in a spacious private dining room which featured a massive map, an ode to Canada on the back wall. I arrived shortly before 6pm just as the sun was setting over the city. Whispers of pink, orange and purple rested along the horizon. The Toronto Islands sat lazing in the mid winter cold, smiling back as if eager to showcase their Spring and Summertime potential. The CN Tower calmly stood like a stoic light house while the Financial District below suffered the anxiety of rush hour traffic. A festival of ants marching into Union Station.
Over the course of the next hour Canada’s top Food and Travel media sipped and splashed through a West Coast centric cocktail hour. Amuse circled around the space featuring an addictive steak tartar and crispy squash beignets. At 7pm we were encouraged to find a seat at one of three tables. The always charming Jessica Harcombe Fleming from Travel Alberta welcomed us all to dinner and one by one introduced us to representatives from Jasper, Banff, Calgary and Edmonton. We spent the evening sitting side by side with these PR pros, a bit of musical chairs at the table, allowing us to “Experience Fresh Stories from Alberta.” I was seated across from a representative from Jasper while to my right I had the thrill of talking travel stories with the city of Calgary. Stampede, lively culinary scene, gay cowboys…I was getting excited as we slathered butter on our bread together.
The evening was magic! As the sun bid us adieu we enjoyed an adventurous Alberta-centric dialogue complimented by a West Coast Canadian inspired menu. Highlights included a velvety Leek and Potato Soup, perfectly pink beef tenderloin and a thought provoking Birch Tart.
I finished my meal with a soothing pot of peppermint tea and while passionate chitter chatter surrounded me I closed my eyes and smiled. I was born in Edmonton and have been back a few times in my youth but have never properly explored my home province. Dinner at Canoe renewed my passion for discovering these roots. I am thrilled to be coordinating a culinary tourism press trip this summer which will showcase the creme de la creme offerings in Calgary and Banff. While the sun shines, cows graze and rivers flow I will do my very best to adventure through Alberta’s culinary stampede.
The Wild Mustang
alberta premium dark horse whisky, fresh blood orange juice, lemon, maple simple syrup
2009 Mission Hill Reserve Pinot Gris, BC
2009 Mission Hill Reserve Merlot, BC
Squash Beignets, maple reduction
Oyster Boy Selection on Half Shell, 54 smoker
Cumbrae Beef Tartare, pretzel crostini
Holland Marsh Leek and Potato Soup
braised spring creek beef cheek, sunflower seed oil
Canoe Caesar Salad
wild boar bacon, thunder oak gouda
Roasted Alberta Lamb Sirloin
branston pickle, baby potatoes, market vegetables
Wellington County Beef Tenderloin
steel-cut oats, green beans, chestnuts, maple bacon
Pan Seared Smoked Salmon
pearl barely, seared endive, preserved fennel
Sheep’s Milk Cheesecake
pumpkin ganache, black currants, corn nut brittle
Birch P & P Tart
caramelized pear, parsnip pastry cream, birch caramel