On Wednesday of last week, I was extremely lucky to be invited to a Chef’s Table dinner by Chef Thomas Heinrich of the Hyatt Vancouver. Around this mighty table sat Sean (Sean’s Adventures in FlavorTown), the legendary Sherman (Sherman’s Food Adventures) – who I finally got to meet that evening! *grovel*, Kevin & Billy of VANEATS, Grace (GraceCheung604), Janice (Good Eat), Alvin (Eating in Vancouver) and Diana (Foodology). What an amazing treat to not only dine on what the chef decides to cook, but also right smack dab in his kitchen!
Another plus? Dining with the food bloggers. No judgement here when the big cameras come out and you’re taking five million photos (not that my regular dining friends judge me, but I feel less silly). Plus, you get to see how other bloggers operate and you get a peek of the expertise. Also, the one thing I love about Vancouver’s food blogger community? They are all so fun and it feels like one big family.
Back to the Chef’s Table. This particular Chef’s Table cannot be bought (as of writing this post) and more importantly lets the Chef be as imaginative as he wants to be. I think this really defines the great from the mediocre. Chef Thomas is this great chef.
Our first course was Escabeche foam with fresh oysters and pickled onions. This delicious mixture of sweet, tangy and spicy really got us going and stimulated our tastebuds for the rest of the meal.
I love how it was presented as well, similar to one of those cans you peel back and giant tweezers, that I could probably use in lieu of chopsticks due to my lack of skill in that department!
Much to our amusement, our second course sat waiting for us right at our table. A pot of dirt. Wait what? This dish was inspired by Chef Thomas’ travels to a highly rated restaurant in Denmark called Noma. He considers this a crudite – the top are baby carrots and wild celery, the ‘dirt’ is actually pumpernickel bread and below – avocado and buttermilk mousse.
What a delightful twist and quite delicious too. I thought there was a lot of avocado however that I could not finish my ‘dish’. I also like the way that the Chef mixed up the different textures in this dish, crumbly ‘Earth’ with smooth avocado.
Next up was the Argentine Red Shrimp, served with Wagyu beef. The Chef describes this as a Spanish dish with Japanese influence. The shrimp is flash boiled with the partially cooked head left on it. There are three different types of wasabi root – the grated wasabi and the foam and chips. The shrimp is lying on a Calamansi jelly. This dish really reminded me of my dad’s cooking, especially with the shrimp head and how I almost always used to give them to my dad. This is where a lot of the flavour can come from – yes the brains! Try it one day, it’s actually quite delicious. Again, the flavours in the dish complimented one another with the Calamansi jelly being not too acidic and a hint of the wasabi root to give it a little bit of a kick.
By far one of the most prettiest dishes of the evening is the Pea dish. The black strip on the bottom if Black Garlic Puree (fermented and from China), freshly shucked peas that are lightly tossed, peas still in the pod, skinless pea ravioli, pea oil encapsulated, pea powder and pea tendrils. Peas are great because I feel they’re a neutral vegetable that can soak up any flavour. By itself, it’s a little sweet and if you’re eating them off a pod almost have the same texture as corn. This dish is remarkably beautiful and I loved the pairing of the garlic with the peas as it kicked up the flavour.
The next dish focused on Artichokes. In the dish we had artichokes pureed, confit, relish and also in the lovely macaron on top of our halibut. The macaron is artichoke, coconut and squid ink! It was quite soft and had a great texture to it – just a great flavour of the coconut.
What really paired well with this dish was the Artichoke relish. Chef informed us that Halibut is in season and is one of the best fish to get in the next month or so.
One of my favourite dishes of the evening was the Bacon dish. There are the bacon discs, bacon fat powder (the white powder on the side) and the bacon wrapped in Skuna Bay salmon with fava beans and a citrus caviar.
The bacon wrapped salmon was simply to die for – I cut it in half to show how moist the salmon is in the middle. The bacon around it is just the right amount of crispiness and the saltiness of the bacon just really emphasized this delicious dish.
Another one of my favourites was the Duck Confit Ravioli and Apple-Brined Duck. It’s served with royal green stinging nettle puree. I don’t have duck very often but if it tasted like this all the time, watch out Donald.
The duck was so tender and buttery, you couldn’t even tell it was duck. The long ravioli was an interesting shape and had great flavour to it.
Again, not a big fan of lamb but this has turned me into a believer. Lambchops, watch out. This lamb tenderloin comes all the way from Australia – beautifully plated, tender and has very little gamey taste that I dislike in most lamb dishes I’ve had previously. Below we have fiddlehead ferns, pickled ramps, morel mushrooms and black truffle. I felt spoiled!
To be honest I’ve never had fiddleheads, ramps or morel mushrooms up until that evening. I enjoyed all three, but I definitely loved the pickled ramps as it had quite the punchy taste to them that really complimented the lamb.
Finally, before we could be rolled out of the kitchen – we had two desserts. Our first was strawberries prepared in various ways – green strawberries macerated with honey, strawberry pistachio glass, strawberry chips and in the middle a scoop of cardamom ice cream. There is also strawberry and vanilla streusel and strawberry butter. The point of this dish was to accentuate the texture and flavour that strawberries have, which was quite the interesting experience.
And the last dish was comprised mostly of my favourite ingredient – chocolate. In the middle we had a chocolate fondant bar with blood orange flavour and white chocolate ice cream. To either side was the 30 second chocolate cake, chocolate streusel and blood orange and citrus drops. I’m a sucker for chocolate so this was a great way to finish a fantastic evening.
I’d like to thank Chef Thomas Heinrich for this amazing meal and Director of Food & Beverage Michael Halloran for introducing us to some fantastic flavours and items I would’ve never thought existed/would go with dishes.
Please make sure to check out fellow foodies’ write-ups as well (updated as the posts roll in): Alvin (Eating in Vancouver), Sherman (Sherman’s Food Adventures), Diana (Foodology), Janice (GoodEat), Sean (Sean’s Adventure in Flavourtown) and Grace (GraceCheung604).