1221 Bay Street
Every now and then, the small remainders of our big co-op crew from a work placement years ago get together for good food and good times. Usually this takes place during the Summerlicious and Winterlicious events.
The much anticipated dinner took place at Pangaea a couple nights ago.
Originally booked for seven, certain people who, shall not be named, had to cancel and left us with a mere table of four.
Korea was the first to arrive. Welo and I arrived shortly after; the three of us were very early. We checked our coats in and were quickly seated to our table, under the name Lee. After some water and a couple slices of house bread served with roasted red pepper hummus, Jolim arrived at the appointed time of 6:30pm.
Dinner started off with some wine. Red for Korea and I. White for Jolim and Welo. Appetizers came shortly afterwards. While everybody else ordered the Ocean Trout Gravlax, I ordered the Serrano Ham. With some sharing between people involved, everything was quickly finished off. This left Jolim hungry for more…
Without missing a beat, the mains arrived as we were just starting to get hungry again. This time, everyone ordered the Slow Braised Lamb Shank, except for Jolim, who ordered the Mahi Mahi. Unfortunately for the biggest eater in our group, the Mahi Mahi was clearly lacking in portion size in comparison to the other plates sitting around the table. In addition to being a smaller portion, the Mahi Mahi was also very delicious. And thus, before anyone had noticed, the fish had already been devoured. Jolim was hungry for more.
Fortunately, Welo, who had been pigging out for the last week was feeling pretty full, so she offered up the remains of her lamb shank to the hungry Jolim. Jolim was now slightly less hungry for more.
It was now time for dessert. For Korea, the Maple-Pecan Tart. For Welo and I, the Pumpkin Spice Bread Pudding. And finally, for Jolim, the Callibaut Hot Chocolate. Yes, hot chocolate. Poor Jolim had the smallest dishes of the night. Fortunately, everything tasted amazing and no one left disappointed.
Of course, it’s very hard to leave disappointed when the executive chef himself, Martin Kouprie, decides to take a stroll into the dining area just as you’re about to leave. And as a bonus, Jolim chats the man up! Jolim had actually tweeted to Chef Kouprie prior to that night to notify him that we would be coming by to sample his creations. Chef Kouprie was extremely nice. He sat us back down and poured us each a glass of 10 Year Old Tawny Port. We tried to convince him to have a seat as well and just drink out of the bottle with us, but unfortunately, he had to hurry back into the kitchen. This type of personal service really made the night extra special and gave a night of great food an even greater end.
Story aside, here are some details on the food. The serrano ham was very good. The strong taste of salt from the curing process was balanced out very well with the arugula tossed lightly in balsamic dressing layered on top. The bits of cracked almonds and olives provided extra depth to the salty flavour. Overall, an excellent starter.
I don’t like to eat fish… at all. But comments around the table regarding the trout gravlax were sufficient enough for me to conclude that the trout tasted great. The potato rosti it came layered on top of was warm and provided a nice bit of crunch to the dish.
The braised lamb shank was nicely done. Standard low and slow cooking rules applied here. The meat was extremely tendered and fell straight off the bone with a light twist of the fork. The meat itself did not have any traces of the much dreaded gamey taste that poorly executed lamb dishes tend to come with. Lingot beans and sauteed kale came with the lamb. Mixed together with braising juices from the lamb, this provided a very flavourful combination.
As mentioned earlier, the actual size of the mahi mahi was not very big, which left our one friend who ordered it, quite hungry. However, this was understandable due to the amount of quality ingredients that went into the dish which made it very flavourful. Overall, he was happy with his choice; he just wished there would be more available.
Finally, dessert. Of the four options available, we opted for the three sweets and did not sample the cheese plate this time (Jolim ordered the cheese plate at Trios Bistro last time). This was mainly because it was really cold outside and everyone wanted something sweet. The bread pudding tasted great. It blended the textures of bread and pudding together very well into one tasty treat. I didn’t try the maple-pecan tart, but it looked good and judging by Korea’s reception to it, it was a solid dessert. I didn’t try the hot chocolate either… but as far as I know, it was hot chocolate. The marshmallows it came with looked very interesting, though.
Now… the port wine bonus. I’m not a big wine drinker, so I can’t really say much. But compared to the red wine I had earlier in the night, I can see why the port wine is a dessert wine. It was much fruitier and sweeter, but also tasted stronger once the sweetness had passed. It was also free, which only made it even better =)
To see Pangaea’s full winterlicious menu, http://wx.toronto.ca/inter/se/restaurants.nsf/Winterlicious/D977350C979B0BD7852570050052E9A3?OpenDocument