Friday, February 19, 2010

Atelier Restaurant – Pre Food Thoughts

I'm insanely excited to present my very first guest post. This evening I will be dining with our good friends Tony and Cathy at Atelier Restaurant. This reservation has been set for over a month now, and a few weeks ago my friend Tony let me know his feelings in anticipation of the meal. I was so amazed by his preconception of molecular gastronomy that I asked him if he would write his pre-dinner thoughts and then of course, his post-dinner thoughts, to see if anything changed. Enjoy!

Guest: Tony Lyons

Pre Food

There was a time, not that long ago in our existence, when food meant sustenance, it meant nutrition, it meant survival. There was also a time when everything we ate we hunted or gathered ourselves. We ate, we sustained, we survived simple.

Then, one day, we noticed that the guy 2 caves down had some yummy looking ungulate hanging outside his front stoop. And he noticed that we had some very tasty yak entrails that we werent using and so, commerce was born.

Well now, in the developed world, our concept and value of food has evolved so far from any notion of nutrition or survival, that we take it for granted. Of course the supermarket will have papayas. Of course I can buy a kilo of beef for 6 bucks. Of course I can get cucumbers in February. Now dont get me wrong, Im no food Trotsky we had a whole roast piglet at our open house last week, so Im as guilty as anyone. But the point is, as a society, when our relationship with food evolves to the point of a $500 hamburger we need to sit down and give ourselves a bit of a talking too. Food is no longer about food. It has become theatre, entertainment, an outlet for artistic expression, a fashion accessory. Putting vittles in your belly to get you through the day is for losers Im exaggerating for effect of course.

So all of this rambling is really just a way of voicing my slight discomfort with the idea of where Im going to dinner on Friday. Cathy and Rachelle suggested we go to Atelier on Rochester. As you might know, Atelier is Ottawas own iteration of the food movement known as molecular gastronomy, a concept most recently made famous by Ferran Adria with his Catalan restaurant El Bulli. The idea behind molecular gastronomy is to (allegedly) challenge ones ideas of what food is and how we experience it, using chemical and scientific processes to transform ingredients rather than cook or prepare them. Now to be honest, I have never eaten at a molecular gastronomy restaurant, Ive only seen it on the tube and read about it, and all these opinions, notions, right or wrong are just that opinions.

And thats exactly why Rachelle asked me to write about it. To compare the pre-conceived notion of molecular gastronomy to the actual experience of consuming it. I have no doubt that the Atelier people will put on a great show, and maybe theyll change my mind. I will probably be proven wrong, and we will probably have a very memorable experience. But I may still grab a sandwich at Dirienzos first.

Talk to you after dessert.

Do you think well get dessert?



Me man. Me want food!

Can't wait to see what's on the menu.

Don said...

Rachelle, Tony, you will get dessert, at least 2 course of it.

Atelier has a really talented pastry chef, Chef Michael Holland. I can guarantee you, his desserts will sate your dessert cravings. He even encouraged my sweet tooth, something I never developed, growing up with an Asian diet.

That said, Chefs Marc Lepine and Sarah Allen are very creative. Please don't think fo the meal as something "molecular." They just use techniques a little avant-garde; somewhat akin to when food processors were new to the professional kitchen. For instance, they recently procured a cotton candy machine. It works equally well for making savoury accompaniments as sweet.

I hope the menu has Chef Holland's take on pulled pork, called Southern Comfort. That pastry chef can cook too!

With Chef Lepine a sommelier and an in-house sommelier, I've been told the wine pairings are top notch.

A little bit of trivia: Chef Lepine worked with Chef Grant Achatz of Chicago's Alinea, but would most likely be flattered if you compare his restaurant with the soon to close permanently El Bulli.

pinkghost said...

i STILL have not been!!!!!

Rachelle said...

you have to go!!

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