Saturday, March 12, 2011

Cullinaire

Sheila and I went to Cullinaire on Thursday evening.   We missed getting tickets last year but were on the ball early this year.

With your enterance ticket you get a wine glass to keep, which I did not know till after we left and I left mine behind, and ten tickets.  You can buy more tickets for $1 a piece and I highly recommend making sure you have enough so that you do not feel worried about running out of tickets.

This is really a speed dating event for foodies and restaurants.

Some of the best and most interesting restaurants in town were not there - Ulla, Stage, Brassierie L'ecole, Cafe Brio and Camille's to just name a few.  I also did not see Chinese, sushi, Indian, middle eastern or other ethnic cuisines on offer.

Most of the offerings were acceptable but utterly forgettable.   The majority of them were something related to pulled pork or a slider, not a single one of them was great.   The sooner this dumb fascination with pulled pork ends, the better.   I rarely have seen anyone do something half as good as I can do my home oven.

It was interesting to see the different scale of the portions you got, some it was a very small amuse bouche, others it could have been a restaurant starter and they gave you a drink.  Swan's did the best value for money.   Three pieces of corstini with a chicken rolade and a different sauce or relish on top of each along with a very generous pour of their beer.

The stand outs of the night tended to be from hotel restaurants.   The restaurants I thought were weak all managed to live down to my expectations.   The one thing that comes out of this is that I will be looking much more seriously at the restaurants in hotels

The Copper Rock Grill at Bear Mountain offered this interesting deep fried ball of pulled pork served on a small polenta cake with this very nice demi glace.

Lure's Offering
Lure - they made this little terrine and for the life of me I can not remember all that was in it other than the beetroot.   It was an impressive little bite and we will be going there soon.

Oak Bay Marina Restaurant - They this amazing deep fried crab cake, cake being the wrong word as it was light and fluffy.   This was paired with this amazing Seville Orange Tequila cocktail that contained chocolate bitters.

Next to the Oak Bay Marina Restaurant was Vic's Steakhouse that did this amazing braised lamb on lentils, I wish I could remember the name of the place.  Much better than all the dry and bland pulled pork.

The Local Kitchen offered decent curried prawns, but not out of this world.

The BC Hospitality Foundation was there and offering some nice little vol au vents filled with smoked trout and smoked some other fish

Next to them was a restaurant offering some sort of pulled lamb on lettuce leaves.   After a lot of pulled meat and this presentation looking very unappetizing, I walked away without trying it.

Charcuterie from Fiamo
Fiamo was offering meatballs and a plate of charcuterie.   Sheila like the meatballs but I thought they were a bit dry.   I liked the charcuterie but Sheila felt it did not showcase cooking skill.

 Pig - I am trying to remember what they did, all I know is that I want to go the restaurant now because of it.

Fireside Grill had a nicely done scallop with more, but with some much food I can not remember it all.   They did have this odd little bit of clear jelly that made no sense with the rest of the food.

Prime Steakhouse has this wonderful little amuse bouche with beef, when I talk with Sheila, I will try and post the details.   I have to say they convinced me to try them.

Nautical Nellies - I had a little deep fried tuna cake.    The oil was clearly not hot enough when they fried them.  They were heavy and dripping in grease.   The tuna inside was overcooked.   I simply could not eat it and had to spit it out.   Cullinaire is the speed dating event of the restaurant scene in this city, if you make something badly, do not serve it, not matter what.   This was their one chance to convince me to try their restaurant as I have been loath to try it because of a lot very mixed reviews at Urbanspoon and low rating.

Flavour Bistro Ravioli
Flavour Bistro - They had a raviolli that was filled with a shredded or pulled beef.   The meat was bland, the pasta a bit too thick and dough has been over handled as it was a bit rubbery.   We have no idea what the sauce was on top, but it was not memorable at all.  Part of the problem is that we had had ravioli the night before that Sheila had made and they were much better.

They also served with a BC red that was pointless to drink as it was thin and bland.   I wish the obsession with local wines did not mean that people felt it was a good idea to serve BC red wines.   It is a rare BC red that is drinkable and I have only had one glass of red that I would match up with standard wines of Australia, but that was during a business meeting with Harry Mcwatters.

Bon Rouge offered veal topped with thick prosciutto.  The veal was not well done and an awkward size while the prosciutto was too thick

Next to Bon Rouge there was Aura and they were offering prawns wrapped in thin ribbons of phyllo pastry (or some other sort of thin dough) and then deep fried.   They looked impressive and they were tasty, I should have taken a picture.

The worst food I had all night was from Smoken Bones Cook Shack.  They were offering turkey sausage with some sort of sauce.   I have no idea how they cooked that sausage, but it was dry and mealy.  The sauce did nothing for it as the texture was awful.   This is the only other thing I ate that I had to spit out.

Canoe's Ice Beer Holder
Canoe Brewpub had a flourless chocolate cake with a cherry compote - looked great but I had the beer.  I loved their ice beer holder.

Rogers Chocolates were there with small lemon filled chocolates.   Others that like sweets said they were good, I am not big on sweet so I defer to others judgement.

I am going to stop for now because I can not remember everything there was, I will leave it to Sheila to post as well.

All in all it was a great event and we will come back next year.  I highly recommend that you go as well.
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