Food for thought: We never ate like that in OUR school canteen!

As an Ottawa foodie blogger, I obviously follow some of the local luminaries in the gastronomic world, one of whom is Ron Eade of the Ottawa Citizen. He runs an impromptu supper club for any who are interested, which organizes sporadic outings to local eating establishments worthy of note. Most recently, this group attended “An evening of Food prepared by Local Chefs and Longfields-Davidson Heights Secondary School Culinary Arts Students to celebrate their new Culinary Arts Program”. Dorothy and I decided to attend to check it out. Since Longfields-Davidson is in Barrhaven and we live in Beacon Hill, we left in what we thought was plenty of time. However, somehow I had neglected to note that although supper was due to start at 6:30PM, the event actually started at 6PM. Thus it was that we unfortunately missed some of the hors d’oeuvres. This was probably a pity since the one that we did both try, the Miniature Lamb Burgers was not an auspicious start.

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Miniature Lamb Burger

Miniature Lamb Burger with Mrs. McGarrigles Mustard

I usually love lamb burgers. In fact, we cook them more than any other variety, so I was looking forward to this one. Unfortunately, it did not live up to expectation. For me, the bun was too much for the amount of meat and the seasonings added overpowered the taste of the lamb. Dorothy seconded my opinion (we don’t always agree) ¬†ūüėČ The hors d’oeuvres were created by Kent Van Dyk, the Culinary Arts teacher. Each course was originally to be served with a local Prince Edward County wine. However, due to potential liability issues, this was nixed and a non-alcoholic beverage was selected instead. This turned out to be a great alternative, since some interesting potables were selected. Most are pictured in the photo gallery below! For the hors d’oeuvres we were offered a light, fruity, sparkling, non-alcoholic cider form County Cider Co (not pictured).

Poached White Albacore Tuna

Olive Oil Poached White Albacore Tuna

The next course, prepared by Sean McCallum and Brett Arden of Whalesbone Sustainable Oyster & Fish Supply, was really enjoyable. Previously, I have found tuna to be dry and almost steak-like in consistency. This, on the other hand was melt-in-the-mouth tender and well-partnered with contrasting additions. I could easily become a convert! One slight sign that students were assisting in the kitchen was evident by the fact that with each course, there was an inconsistency of presentation. If you check out the two braised ribs photos in the gallery below, you will see this for yourself. I’m not sure why but this course did not come with an accompanying beverage, unless it was the Perrier water which was served freely the entire evening?!

Moroccan Lentil Soup

Moroccan Lentil Soup by Caroline Ishii

¬†The Moroccan Lentil Soup prepared/supervised by Caroline Ishii of Zen Kitchenwas probably the hit of the evening for both Dorothy and myself. I must say that normally, I am NOT a fan of lentils and especially not of lentil soup. However, this dish tasted as delicious as it looked attractive. The lentils had been somehow ground or mashed and herbs and spices were just enough to make for a taste explosion in your mouth. This definitely makes me want to visit Zen Kitchen. Also worthy of note was the “Rock the Kazbah” beverage accompanying the soup. Again, this was our favourite with its blend of citrus, ginger and mint.

Wild Mushroom and Chevre Ravioli

House Made Wild Mushroom and Chevre Ravioli

Dorothy and I were in disagreement over the House Made Wild Mushroom and C’est Bon Ch√®vre Ravioli. This dish was created/supervised by Matt Brearley of Castlegarth¬†in White Lake. Dorothy admitted though, that she was biased due to the presence of goat cheese of which she is not a fan. Personally, I found the the delicate flavours of the dish a perfect counterpoint to the soup which had preceded it. The Sparkling Verjus Cocktail which accompanied it was also interesting. I thought it contained cranberry due to its tartness. I must confess to ignorance of the term ‘Verjus‘, so I did some research and was surprised at its origins. Perhaps a little too sweet for my taste but interesting nevertheless!

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braised beef shortrib

Braised Beef Shortrib with Potato Gratin

I suppose the Braised Beef Shortrib with Glengarry Celtic Blue Potato Gratin and Roasted Heirloom Carrots could arguably be considered the ‘Main’ of the evening. It was conceived and supervised by Stev George of Olivea in Kingston. It started off at a slight disadvantage, since at this point, we were already fairly well sated and this was a reasonably large plate of food. Perhaps this made me all the more critical. For me, the meat was overcooked and somewhat dry and crusted on the outside. The potato gratin seemed to ‘dissolve’ in the excess gravy and the carrot, whilst adding a nice touch of colour was overcooked and mushy! If I were served this in a top notch restaurant, I would be sorely disappointed! The blackcurrant infusion served with it was also nothing special. I would have preferred Ribena!

Molten Chocolate Polenta Cake
Molten Chocolate Polenta Cake

The Molten Chocolate Polenta Cake with its Red Beet and Raspberry Coulis was a nice finish to an overall pleasant experience. This dessert was prepared by Marc Doiron of Town Restaurant in Ottawa and did him proud. I did hear some say they found it a little dry (a little more of that delicious Coulis would not have been amiss), but I found my portion to be dreamily creamy in the centre. Furthermore, the presentation, which is often 50% of the battle, was impeccable! The Masala Chai tea which accompanied it was a nice alternative to coffee though its sweetness meant yet another dose of sugar. Diabetics would have been in need of extra insulin this particular evening!

In summary, I must say that this was a very enjoyable outing, if not more than a little off the beaten track. Although I treated this review as I would any restaurant, I do appreciate that the chefs were working with Grades 6-7 students. I certainly laud the fact that they gave their time and expertise in a worthy cause and it was apparent that the kids had fun.

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1 comment

  1. The meal sounds like it was quite impressive considering the “kids” who made the meal are in high school.
    When I was in high school, for “home ec” all out class learned to make was some pizza from a Kraft boxed mix….that was quite an embarrassment when you expect to “learn how to cook”.

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