Sunday, March 29, 2009

Urban Element – The Secrets of Smoking with La Boucanerie Chelsea Smokehouse

My husband and I signed up for this smoking discussion recently because A. we absolutely love smoked fish, especially from the smokehouse. And B. my husband got a smoker for his birthday and this just seemed like the perfect thing to increase his knowledge on smoking. We'd never been to an event at the Urban Element. I'm sad it's taken us this long to check it out. Anything that goes on in this dreamy kitchen is sure to be a wonderful experience. The decor, the staff and the subjects they choose for discussion are the ultimate culinary adventure alone. Add immaculate food on top of that and you feel as though you've just been admitted into heaven.

I already think very highly of Line and her husband James who took over the Boucanerie Chelsea Smokehouse last year. Every time I set foot in that house I feel so welcome and so excited about what i'm going to eat. I always want to leave there with everything. This discussion really made me understand the time, effort and insane passion that they have with all that they do. It's got to be the best of the best or nothing at all. They don't sacrifice a thing with their artisan-style smoking techniques and maintain the highest standards of quality. Only the finest salts, herbs, sustainable fish and seafood are used with a lot of time and effort spent on product sourcing. Their enthusiasm and obsession can only be described as contagious because we left there with a whole new mindset on how we are going to eat fish going forward. Unfortunately Line wasn't able to join us at the discussion but her husband James did a fantastic job at sharing many secrets and the efforts put in to getting where they are today. He was an amazing and truly genuine man with so much information that I was in awe at every thing he had to say and acted like a sponge the entire afternoon. In addition to the talk we got to try some pretty fabulous food. Many of the items we had I had already tried before; however, learning about each one and how they were cooked was like trying them again for the first time. There were also some other fishes I had never had before and i'm looking forward to having them again.

We had 6 courses:

Swim #1 – Salmonidae Family
Naturally smoked with pure maple wood
Cold smoked salmon, hot smoked salmon, jerky, sockeye salmon, cold smoked steelhead trout, hot smoked rainbow trout, arctic char

Swim #2 – Salmonidae Family
Sugar and spice
Cold smoked salmon with maple syrup, lemon and pepper, garlic, fine herbs and cajun spices

Swim #3 – Cold Smoked Seafood
Smoked mussels, smoked shrimp with grapefruit olive oil and tarragon, smoked scallops

Swim #4 – Hot Smoked Freshwater River Fish
Hot smoked sturgeon, hot smoked eel

Swim #5 – Hot Smoked Pelagics
Spiced mackerel, digby chick herrings

Swim #6 – Cream Cheeses
Creamed goat's and sheep's milk tartinades with smoked salmon and horseradish

All of the above are highly recommended. They were so flavourful and absolutely divine. Ones that stood out for me, of the ones i'd never tried before, were the garlic smoked salmon, the hot smoked eel and the digby chick herrings. If this event ever came back to the Urban Element, I would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys seafood. You will learn the variations of smoking and leave there with an appreciation you never thought possible for smoked fish.

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