When Chef Matt Blondin announced via Twitter that Acadia (50C Clinton Street) would be offering a $39, 7-course tasting menu, I’m pretty sure everybody’s first thought was, “How the hell is he going to pull that off??” But it turns out that Blondin is a pretty ingenious guy. Not only did he put together 7 courses for $39, they were actually really good and some, like the catfish breaded with pumpernickel with goat’s curd, pickled egg white and yolk and onion tops (above) has recently been added to the restaurant’s regular menu. Follow along for the rest of what Blondin cooked up…
Do not adjust your screens. I know I already wrote a preview of The Grove back in November when I attended a pop-up dinner in conjunction with First Drop Canada. At that point, owners Fritz Wahl, Richard Reyes and Chef Ben Heaton were expecting their Dundas Street restaurant to be ready to go before Christmas. As is the case in the restaurant industry, there were a few delays, and when I attended the real sneak preview pop-up dinner last Friday (also hosted by First Drop Canada, and with proceeds going to Greenest City), they were still awaiting their liquor license.
The good news is that everything else is done and that they’ll be holding their grand opening party this Saturday, March 10th from 6pm onwards. The other good news is that, unlike the previous dinner where Heaton was cooking in a makeshift kitchen in a woodshop, this time he was getting a chance to try out his own custom-built space.
Anyone who knows me or who reads this site regularly knows my feelings on donairs. Particularly that we don’t have any good ones here in Toronto, and that it’s a crying shame because we do so much to celebrate the street food of other cultures, but we seldom, even within the realm of “local”, celebrate the food of Canada. That goes for all Canadian foods, actually, not just street food, and it’s truly a delight to see restaurants like Keriwa Cafe, and Acadia to some extent (Chef Matt Blondin has a specific niche but there’s definite Canadian influences) and now Hopgood’s Foodliner (325 Roncesvalles Avenue) picking up on Canadian regional cuisine.
Geoff Hopgood has been very quiet about his recent restaurant opening. Few people knew it was even happening until news of the soft opening broke on Twitter and an exclusive with the Globe and Mail’s Chris Nuttal-Smith ran the following day. A website with the most basic info was made in late January, but wasn’t getting indexed by Google as Toronto food freaks desperately searched for more information last Friday.
While having dinner at Acadia (50C Clinton Street) recently, I remarked to owner Scott Selland that the amuse of pickled eggs, confit potatoes and bits of greens and okra reminded me of the beach. I don’t think he really got the correlation, and I’m sure I didn’t explain it well, it was just one of those neuron-firing events where something pulled up images of something else within my brain. So I dug up some photos to see if I could explain it visually.
The story of the Acadians was part of the history of the place where I grew up. French settlers on the Bay of Fundy shore of Nova Scotia were expelled from the province in the mid 1700s when they refused to sign an oath of allegiance to Britain. The French settlers ended up scattered all along the eastern seaboard of the US, particularly in the rural areas of Louisiana, where many French-owned plantations made the settlers feel at home.
While many Acadians eventually returned to Acadie (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and PEI) enough stayed in the Louisiana low country and adapted to the life there that the Cajun culture was born. Food, in particular, was still based around the rustic French food they knew and cooked up north, but began to encompass local ingredients and cooking techniques.