FOOD BUZZ: Top 10 food trends spotted at Gold Medal Plates
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FOOD BUZZ: Top 10 food trends spotted at Gold Medal Plates

The winning dish in progress: Beckta team prepares linguine with marrow butter to serve alongside rabbit terrine and sliced duck breast
  1. 1. Pescuterie (salted, smoked, or cured fish)
  2. 2. Edible Dirt (soil?) aka “the new air”
  3. 3. Smoked anything…cotton candy, ghee
  4. 4. Sea Vegetables
  5. 5. Nose to Tail cooking
  6. 6. Espresso as ingredient in main dish
  7. 7. Aspic
  8. 8. Octopus
  9. 9. Lentils
  10. 10. Whoopie Pies

Michael Moffatt wins gold (again) and other highlights from Gold Medal Plates

He did it in 2007 and he did it again last night. Michael Moffatt, the equally amiable and talented chef from Beckta took home the gold at the Ottawa Gold Medal Plates competition. Moffatt once again goes on to compete in the nation-wide competition. This one will be held in Kelowna, B.C., in February.

As for the winning plate, well, suffice it to say Moffatt’s rabbit terrine made a bunny lover out of me. I had a floppy-eared one as a pet when I was a kid, so this is no mean feat. I suppose it goes to prove the old truism that everything is better with bacon. The sliced duck was flawless and it was served with a kicky kimchi. The dish also included a single strand of linguini (cleverly served already wrapped around a fork for easy one-handed stand-up grazing) coated in insanely rich marrow butter topped with a grilled baby squid.

Caroline Ishii of Zen Kitchen was awarded silver for her ragout of Le Coprin mushrooms, yuba (tofu skin)-wrapped macadamia curd, polenta, red pepper aspic, passilla (a type of chile) conserve. National Senior Judge James Chatto, who announced the winners, noted that it was a very rare thing to see a vegetarian dish in the Top 3. Kudos to Chef Ishii for bringing respect to the vegan table.

Brothers Ross and Simon of Fraser Cafe took home bronze for their downright delicious and blessedly UNCOMPLICATED ling cod in a light curry with fresh melon and spot prawn on a fresh colourful slaw of julienned vegetables. What’s lovely about Fraser food is that you know these guys have the skill and pedigree to easily ratchet up the fancy-fussy quotient if they really needed to, but the thing everyone seems to love about their food is that they just continue to keep it real.

Personally, I thought the dish from Les Fougères was also a standout. It was described as “spiced ghee smoked wild pickerel served on sweet potato stirred with lime marmalade and P.E.I. mehti mussels.” I would’ve called it a curry dish until I opened the pamphlet that Chef Charles Part was distributing at his station to accompany and explain every element on the plate. It began “My dish is not a curry dish but, like me, it is influenced by Indian cuisine.” He deconstructs the dish in extraordinary detail, and I confess I was seduced by the amazing insight this short essay offered. It reminded me of great CD liner notes or the booklet that accompanies an art gallery exhibit that heightens the experience for the audience. In it, I learned that Part traveled to Rajasthan to continue what he describes as an ongoing “quest to unlock the secrets of spices.” The dish took me on a journey as well. There was crunch (strips of fried samosa pastry, pomegranate), there was punch (garlicky sautéed spinach, fresh mint), and there was subtlety (garam masala infused ghee spent 30 seconds enveloped in smoke on the Big Green Egg). Also a winner in my books.