Monday, March 7, 2011

Welcome to the Death Row Supper Club....reservations anyone?

Sounds kind of ominous....the Death Row Supper Club.....

Supper clubs have become an underground food phenomenon where a bunch of people, most of whom don't know each other, buy up tickets (usually online) for an evening of dining, organized privately, often hosted by a Chef, in a private location. In Toronto the most well known supper club is Charlie's Burger, a dining club I might add, that actually asks you to fill out an application for consideration for the invite list. Tickets are usually on a first come, first serve basis, involve cash and in many cases there is often a BYOW option.

As ominous as the Death Row Supper Club sounds it really is about getting a bunch of chefs together where they get to create the best "last" supper they can come up with. There is a catch though, this supper club has a theme, which is geared to the locavore locapour movement that has taken hold in Ontario. I bought a ticket for the first official DRSC, which was hosted at Beast and the evening theme was the "Hunter's Feast". The highlight of this evening was centred around a wild boar. So five chefs, Scott Vivian (Beast Restaurant); Rossy Earle (Personal Chef, Caledon Culinary Challenge Winner, 86'd Monday Salsa Smack down Champ); Jason Bangertner (Luma & Canteen, O&B); Steve Wilson (Summit Golf & Country Club) and Tom Davis (The Stockyards)got together and divvied up a wild boar. Every single course served throughout the dinner had to have some connection to the wild boar. Damn, it's a good thing I like meat. There were 7 courses in total, with a wine flight served with each course. Wineries included 13th Street, Fielding Estates Winery, Lailey Vineyard, Ravine Vineyards, Rosewood Winery, Rosehall Run Winery and Karlo Estate. It was, without question, an epic evening, from the perspective of the diners.

So here's the sweet and low....

First course: Charcuterie along with a bucket of wild boar foie gras and a pimento cheese that was made from the braised boar hocks. I just love Charcuterie because it such an old world art and speaks to not wasting any of the animal, from head to tail.

The second course from Scott Vivian was a Guinea Hen & Wild Boar Face (yes, you read that right) Tourtiere. It is sided with Pickled Elderberry ketchup and a shaved Fennel Salad with crunchy little bits of boar in it. The pastry on this tourtiere was superb and the mixed meat filling had that hint of cloves that is so synonymous with tourtiere. The white crumbly mixture you see on top of the tourtiere, which looks like cheese, is actually a rendered version of foie gras with something added to it to make it white. This was washed down with some Fielding 2008 "Jack Rabbit Flats" Pinot Noir.

The third course came from the only rose among the thorns, Chef Rossy Earle, the only chick on this cook up roster. Chef Earle's offering was "Chupe De Chorizo" which is basically a Latin-American stew/soup. This was her throw back to her Panamanian roots. It featured wild boar chorizo, potatoes, chick peas which had been immersed in coconut and fire charred tomato red pepper broth. The two kickers of this course were the crunchy little bits of Chicharron in the soup and the dollop of a lime infused sour cream. On the side of the bowl was a small cup of Sofrito Chipollo, which is a kind of fried onions. The accompanying wine was a sassy little 2008 Syrah from Lailey which had the right kick of cinnamon in the wine to be the perfect blend for this tasty bowl of Latin American absolute goodness.

Chef Jason Bangertner, presented a hand minced game sausage "en crepenette". I can't even imagine the work behind the artisanal craft of hand mincing meat for sausage. Mind blowing. This was not to be outdone by a very usual Guinea Hen mouseline sausage that was almost white and was akin to eating meat mousse. These sausages were plated with a small piece of boar belly and some braised cabbage with a dollop of a grainy mustard which is a perfect side for sausages. We quaffed a Ravine Vineyards 2008 Riesling with this course. The lightness and acidity created a decent food balance for this course.

At this point, the meat sweats are beginning to take hold when Chef Steve Wilson brings out a Harvest Gold Mead braised wild boar shoulder, sliced up and plattered for family style service. This was sided with some wickedly evil Buttermilk Mashed Sweet Potatoes, Collard Greens with boar bits and a bowl of really fun "dirty" Hush Puppies containing carmelized onions and thyme, drizzled with infused honey drizzle. The question burning in my mind now is why did I not wear my fat pants. Just for the record I had a second serving on the pretty Rosewood 2008 Chardonnay Reserve as I dipped my dirty Hush Puppy into those butter laden mashed Sweet Potatoes.

Holy mutha of Gawd....I'm feeling like I'm about to give birth to a bouncing 7 lb. baby boar. Just when I think there is not a space left in my ballooning belly out comes Chef Tom Davis (who cooks up the best fried chicken in the city) and bam! He plunks down a plate in front of me with a buttermilk biscuit, drenched with wild boar and smoked apple sausage gravy, with a couple of pieces of Southern Deep Fried Quail perched atop. This is sided with Wild Boar Carbonara which was wild boar noodles with crackling and a poached Quail's egg. Someone please....just kill me now. Oh for the hell of it we'll just wash down this goodness with some Rosehall Run Winery 2008 Sullyswicker Pinot. I think labour is setting in....oh the stomach pain.

Naturally it ain't over until the fat lady sings. Bring on the doughnuts for dessert! Rachelle Vivian, pastry Chef at Beast, cranked out some killer doughnuts rolled in Wild Boar Bacon and sugar and then stuffed those little nodules of golden goodness with a Maple Curd.

At the end of the night I'd have to say that the highlights of the meal for me was the Chupe De Chorizo and the Southern Fried Quail on the biscuit. Not to take anything at all away from the participating chefs but these two courses just made this meat loving girl very happy.

I'd like to give a shout out to social media food maven, Joel Solish (Foodie411 for you tweeps!) and his co-organizer, Trish Gill for bringing this evening all together. Joel & Trish have formed a project called "Living. Loving. Local." with a focus on supporting local food systems. I understand that the DRSC will be meeting up about 3-4 times a year. I can't wait!

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