Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Wakefield Mill

Sometimes you just need to get away.

Work has been insane. This time of year is always crazy and the closer we get to Christmas, the less time my husband and I have for ourselves. I'm not saying that in a bad way, our time isn't just filled with working hours, it also includes many get-togethers with all kinds of socialization, which of course includes food. But it's during times like these that fitting in some alone time isn't just a luxury, it's necessary. When you're strapped for time, getting away can be a challenge. But having a place like this so close to home for a quick night away is perfect. I actually felt like we had taken a mini holiday.

Seriously, so beautiful.

And of course, what's an outing like this without a marvelous food experience to go with it!? Young chef Romain Riva has done a fantastic job creating a menu that turns the Wakefield Mill into a culinary destination. Dishes like red deer tartar and duck confit on wild boar sausage will have you salivating from the minute you start reading the menu. And we came prepared, stomachs hungry.

They also offer a discovery menu, which is a multi-course meal created by the chef. You don't know what you're going to get until it arrives in front of you. I absolutely adore this way of eating. We of course, went for that, and opted for the wine pairing to go with it. I don't think I've ever done a chef's tasting without doing the wine too, it completes the meal.

I'm not quite sure what I was expecting, but I definitely did not think the food would be so elaborate. I can't imagine the chef doing such crazy dishes like this every night (they don't offer it on Saturdays). But I guess, if it's not too busy, why not go all out and have fun with it – this of course, is my assumption only, coming from a woman who thinks making grilled cheese sandwiches is a pain in the ass.

We started off with a trio of Malpeque oysters, each one individually dressed. Harissa crème fraîche with green tea mousse and sake blanketed the first one. Next to that, a poached quail egg made for a unique taste experience. And on the third, a thick slice of flavourful Mamirolle gratinée on it's surface. Our pairing was a refreshing glass of Castillo de Clos Mont Blanc Cava Brut. What a way to start the evening!

Next, a yummy slice of in-house smoked trout and fresh parsley salad dotted with smoked sea salt was paired with a glass tube – the lower level filled with sinful butter fish soup and the top plugged with a Matcha tea cone of coconut ice cream. This was probably one of my favourite dishes of the night. The saltiness of the cone with the creamy ice cream was a match made in heaven. The soup was like dipping shellfish in melted butter but without having to actually do it. An Alsatian Pinot Gris, Pfaffenheim 2008, was divine with the fish and butteriness of the dish.

Our third course was paired with a duo of wines. Carmen, a 2009 Chardonnay from Casablanca to go with the seafood portion of the dish, and Nero di Troia, Casaltrinità 2007 from Puglia for the meat. The plating of this dish alone was somewhat overwhelming. A thick, large marble base was used to showcase the many things going on. I started off on the lighter side, tempura coated escargots and sea scallops with Espelettes chilis that were a little lacklustre in flavour. And then worked my way over to the bison tartare paired with some much needed cheese crackers. Along the way, swipes and dollops of beet and yogurt dressing, matcha tea crème fraîche, pumpkin coulis, watercress pesto, saffron oil and soya caviar. The pumkin coulis tasted slightly odd and bitter but we enjoyed the soya caviar that was a nice complement to the red, raw meat.

Our fourth course was a recipe for extravagance. Luckily some salty beet chips cut through the intensely rich foie gras duo that made the plate. First the foie gras torchon, decorated with neige (or popcorn for you realists out there). Slivers of beet chips sank into this melt-in-your-mouth, velvety smooth disc. At the other end of the plate, deep fried foie gras (yes, deep fried), tomato concasse and cardamom saffron chili. We barely managed to eat half. Neige, La Face Cachée de Pomme Ice Cider was perfect for cutting through the fattiness of this dish.

Tataki of kangaroo. Not something I was expecting to eat that night. I love trying new things and I especially love trying a new meat. I must admit however, it took a few minutes for me to chase away the cute, bouncy image I had in my head before digging in. I had to laugh when I later read this on Wikipedia:

There has been recent discussion from the kangaroo meat industry about attempting to introduce a specific culinary name for kangaroo meat, similar to the reference to pig meat as ham and pork, and calling deer meat venison. The aim is to have diners thinking of the meat rather than the animal and avoiding adverse reactions to the eating of a “cute” animal or “eating Skippy”.

The flavour was powerful and distinct. I love game and really enjoy strong meats. It was also very tender and cooked beautifully. The tumble of satéed oyster mushrooms with rosemary and honey gastrique alongside was magnificent. A daikon radish and cilantro blend added some much needed freshness to the plate. And the sweet potato chips were a savoury treat. I was also very excited about the Chianti Brumaia 2006 Riserva that went along with it.

At this point I had lost count as to how many dishes we had actually gone through. We were slowly eating our way into a coma. Melted manchego, pear and date chutney on crisp, golden baguette appeared before us. Next to that, the most intriguing item, a mousse-like concoction of sorbet, rosé and tomato foam. La Cuvée Glacée des Laurentides, Vignoble de la Rivière du Chêne, 2008 – a sweet dessert wine that was just perfect. I thought this was our final dish but I was quickly proven wrong.

Our final dish, a maple parfait ice cream served with almond cake, fresh fruit and goat cheese crème. A simply blissful way end to what I call one of the most intense food marathons I've ever been on. I must admit, the portions were very generous. And I normally don't have much of an off button, so very little was left behind. They served this heavenly dessert with another deliciously sweet wine from Rivière du Chêne called L'Adélard.

I've always felt that service is just as important as the meal itself. If you're not enjoying yourself, even the food can loose it's appeal. The opposite is also true. Which is what happened in this case. Our server, Sarah, gave us exceptional service. She made the entire evening one to remember. That and our window seat overlooking the falls and the warm and comforting atmosphere of softly lit tables, creating an oasis of calm. The only mistake my husband and I made was not taking a short walk before heading back up to our room.

60 Mill Road
Wakefield, Quebec

Le Moulin - Wakefield Mill Inn & Spa on Urbanspoon


foodiePrints said...

Oh Jenn and I could use a getaway! The Wakefield Mill reads like an amazing suggestion!

As always, a great post with drool-worthy photos and descriptions... :)

HMac said...

Heading there tonight for a work function(Womens Financial Advisor Networking event) and I can't wait for dinner - not dining until 9.. may have to fit in a quick late lunch. Thanks for the great review Rachelle. Sept 29th 2011