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Have you ever received a dish that looked so beautiful that you were hesitant to eat it? I can now officially say that I have.
People say that math is the universal language of the world, but I think it’s food. There isn’t much that I won’t eat—or at least try once—and sharing a good meal with friends or family is probably my favourite thing in the world. That’s why my experience at Wildebeest the other day was especially lovely, given the great service and amazing food.
For just two weeks in June, Wildebeest is offering a Spring Field and Forest Menu, and folks, the flavours definitely brought me right into the forest. Apparently, chef Ian McHale literally goes into fields and forests with his friends to forage for some of the ingredients (such as black currants) featured in the menu. It’s a short time to offer the menu, but in the true spirit of the farm-to-table movement, it features ingredients that simply aren’t available year round.
The Peace Country lamb shank was falling off the bone, and the foie gras-stuffed morels that sat beside it were an intense, savoury compadre. But for me, the pièce de résistance was the smoked Magret duck breast, which sat along a trail of pureed blackberries and was topped with blue cheese and purple wildflowers. The saltiness of the duck, the sweetness from the berries, and the slight crunch from the cheese created a very (italics added, by me, for emphasis) well-balanced bite.
And I can’t forget to mention the dessert. You know in movies when a person has a flashback, and you sort of see the memories whizzing through their brain, and then you see the them as a child in a grainy composition? I’m not exaggerating when I say that this is what happened to me (okay, fine, I’m exaggerating a bit). There was something about the creamy custard sandwiched between layers of cannoli pastry with grand fir ice cream that reminded me of spending the holidays at my grandma’s farm in Alberta. I felt rather emotional as I mumbled “This kind of tastes like Christmas.”
And like a crackling fire pairs beautifully to a shimmering Christmas tree, Christina Hartigan, Wildebeest’s wine director, paired wines from the Okanagan, France, and South Africa perfectly to the food. If you have the chance, go check it out for yourself, and if not? Hey, that means more for the rest of us.
Spring Field and Forest menu, prices vary by dish, available from June 3 to 17 at Wildebeest (20 W Hastings St.)