Over the years, I have significantly expanded my gastronomic comfort zone (and expanded my waistline at the same time). Once upon a time I’d worry about whether there would be things on the menu that I’d like, but now I feel pretty comfortable in most social settings.
My old fears came back on Sunday night when Eric, former board member, took us out for dinner in Victoria. We ended up at the Deep Cove Chalet, a former tea house on the coast that has a great reputation on the island as a destination restaurant. As I perused the subtantial menu, Eric decided that the chef should make us whatever he wanted for dinner. Not wanting to upset our host, I meekly agreed.
The first course was a huge chunk of cold foie gras with toast points. I know that for many people, foie gras is a decadent treat that is meant to be savoured and enjoyed. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get past the mental image of a poor goose with a tube stuck down its throat in a sadistic attempt to fatten the liver. I managed to choke down about half of the slab with the help of many sips of water.
I had barely recovered from the first course when the next challenge arrived – a big bowl of chanterelle mushrooms. I have never been a fungus fan, so the tangled mass of ‘shrooms was a real test. The small piece of black cod that accompanied it was quite good, though.
By the time the main course arrived, it was around 9:30 pm, which felt like 12:30 am for me. A big hunk of beef wellington is not exactly the type of light late-night snack I had in mind, but it was quite tasty. The dessert was old-school – a meringue nest with two scoops of ice cream and a gravy boat of warm chocolate sauce. They pretty much had to roll me out of the restaurant.
Last night my colleague and I went to Vij’s in Vancouver, a restaurant The New York Times called “Easily among the best Indian restaurants in the world”. It was a total change from the previous night – contemporary, hip, with a touch of the exotic. The servers looked like they were plucked from fashion magazines, and they stopped by several times to offer us tempting morsels of pakoras and madras frites.
The food was very good, although I wasn’t totally sold on my beef side ribs. Heather had their signature lamb popsicles, and it was easily one of the tastiest dishes I’ve ever tried. We walked back to the hotel in the rain in a futile attempt to burn off some of the excess calories.
I have already started worrying about lunch on Thursday, as one of our hosts is taking us for dim sum. I’ve only tried it once, and that was 10 years ago, but I still have a vivid mental picture of a chicken foot emerging from a little dough ball. I hope they’ll have plenty of water on the table…