Zoltan Szabo

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Bahamian Rhapsody - The Bruderschaft of The Chef and The Sommelier

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By Zoltan Szabo

Historic Graycliff Hotel, Restaurant & Cigar Factory in Nassau, The Bahamas is boasting a rustic, basement cellar of 300,000 bottles of wine in stock, insured at $12 million, oldest vintage being an early 1700's Riesling from the Rheinghau; with the traveling humidor of Napoleon Bonaparte and JFK laying around in dusty corners, along horse saddle and other "artifacts", and no one even cares; the best Cognac, Armagnac and single malts collection I have ever seen...! The "who's who" client list is long like the 401...! I could not understand how the hell is possible for one person to oversee the whole inventory and manage the list...!? Graycliff's wine program is WS Grand Award winner since the 70's...! ...And there's thousands of boxes of cigars! Rare and unique puffers, some vintage dated and favourites of  Nicholas Cage...! An overwhelming experience to walk through the cellar!  Chef is Josh Campbell, who prepared us a fabulous lunch.
 
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If you visit The Bahamas try some conch chowder! Decent beers are made on the island, and there are some really bad drivers!
So, pop by Shogun Revolver! Chef Michael Pataran and his better half, the lovely Helen, will make sure to provide you with an unforgettable dining experience.

At a recent Canadian winemakers' dinner that I've hosted at Shogun, Michael cooked up a menu that probably was one of the finest I have ever eaten through!

Among the courses there was local, Bahamian, mutton “rogan josh” terrine with roasted red pepper, eggplant and naan... lime cured wahoo with charred corn, cilantro and crispy shallots bahamian lobster springrolls with avocado, mango and yuzu aïoli  duck leg and peanut satay with red thai peanut curry and toasted coconut marinated octopus in momijioroshi chile, tsuyu soy, cilantro and sesame and kivalliq arctic caribou rack from nunavut, Canada, with sichuan black bean reduction, maple roasted brussel sprouts and imo potato – smoked bacon tart! The Foie Gras Torchon made with goose liver from Palmex in Marieville, Quebec was simply to die for..! See my previous blog entry!
 
For the record, Michael and I are best friends (know each other from way back since our days at Zoom, nowadays Beerbistro, and Rain) and collaborated in many unique affairs throughout the years! A handful of Niagara Peninsula wineries participated in the "showdown" and for the first time ever there will be Niagara wines available on The Bahamas, imported by the folks at Bristol Cellars!
Michael and I even matched Icewine to a full 7 or 8 course meal up in Muskoka at Taboo Resorts Culinary Theatre while Mr. Pataran worked there! And what a superb matches! Menu below. Mrs. Bosc of Chateau des Charmes guest spoke along yours truly, and we just had a fine time, and smoked cigars after!
 
seared crisp escolar with blue potato violet mustard spring onion cake garden pea and mango blossom honey foam
2000 Late Harvest Riesling, Estate Bottled, VQA, Chateau des Charmes, Niagara Peninsula
 
palmex foie gras, oven-dried calimyrna and mission roasted fig stuffed breast of squab with truffled potato gnocchi, leek fondue
2001 Riesling TBA, Paul Bosc Estate Vineyard, VQA, Chateau des Charmes, Niagara Peninsula
 
tarragon butter roasted lobster tail with port glazed pear and parsnip puree white chocolate cherry brioche pudding
2000 Vidal Icewine, Estate Bottled, VQA, Chateau des Charmes, Niagara Peninsula
 
fieldgate farms organic pork loin with sichuan black bean reduction, east coast “dry” scallop and maple glazed brussel sprouts
2000 Vidal Icewine, VQA, Chateau des Charmes, Niagara Peninsula
 
chilled spring bank bison tenderloin salad with star anise – cinnamon ~ palm sugar dressing with mint oil and plum brûlé
2003 Riesling Icewine, Estate Bottled, VQA, Chateau des Charmes, Niagara Peninsula
 
wild blueberry soufflé with lemon wafer and thyme honey ~ apricot sorbet
2000 Riesling Icewine, Paul Bosc Estate Vineyard, VQA, Chateau des Charmes, Niagara Peninsula
 
 
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Just imagine...Michael and I used to live in the same building in TO on the corner of Eglinton West and Old Forest Hill Road...One night, bored and hungry, he had invited Janos Szabo and I, along others, and cooked a "little" dinner for us... and called the theme “glutamic inspiration”...here's the menu from a "casual" Saturday evening...What a neighbor to have ehh...?!

sweet corn chawan mushi with dried shiitake, smoked bacon, chanterelle, oven-dried tomato, daikon consommé gelée and truffle essence
 
scallop “crystal” dumpling with sichuan carrot reduction, cured duck sausage, smoked tofu, choy sum and fried lotus
 
roast black cod with braised pork belly, steamed sato-imo yam and fermented black bean ~ xiaoxing reduction 
 
slow cooked beef tongue with red thai peanut curry, coconut sticky purple rice, ginger frites and coriander paste
 
chocolate 3-ways
dark chocolate, coconut truffle with 5 spice and korean pepper, amareña cherry
milk chocolate hazelnut bread pudding with mango syrup and crème anglaise
white chocolate wafer with lavender labne, asian pear ~ galangal sorbet and fried sage
 
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The other event took place years ago while I was at Toronto's best little Italian resto, Il Mulino. I have invited Chef Pataran to cook along with the great Allan Hilaro, presenting two creations served side by side on the same plate, and Johnny Szabo and I paired wines, both of us choosing one per plate with two different style food preparations sitting on, in a manner that each of our wines had to match with both chefs' masterpieces! ...And what a "battle of the senses" that turned out to be! We had a packed house, and people almost cried of happiness and gastro-satisfaction at the end! Menu is below, and sadly I don't remember the vini...! They were, must have been, great, we were assured by attendees, I recall that! For sure you will recognize Michael's modern Asian, multi-layered and textured creations, along the more humble and traditional Allan Hilario's.
 
DUCK & MUSHROOM
1. truffle tartlet with wild mushroom & smoked duck
2. sweet corn ~ braised duck chawan mushi with housemade wild turkey bacon and smoked shimeji mushrooms
 
NOODLES
1. grana padano & ricotta gnocchi in a fresh cherry tomato, basil broth
2. hand-cut chilled green tea soba noodles with shiso – soy dashi
 
 
SABLEFISH
1. sable fish with anchovies, chanterelle mushroom, lemon & Lacryma Cristi
2. japanese “gindara” black cod with maple ~ miso marinade and rice masago crusted asparagus
 
 
FRUIT
1. intermezzo of grapefruit granita
2. wild strawberry espuma with lychee and mangosteen “ sashimi”
 
 
VEAL
1. veal tartar with crispy shallots
2. veal tenderloin in green thai curry with coconut sticky rice
 
 
VENISON
1. venison striploin with foie gras & huckleberry, port jus
2. braised venison shank ~ foie gras “crystal” dumpling with sichuan black bean reduction and red onion fennel kim chee 
 
 
BERRIES
1. ricotta brule with macerated raspberries in a citrus, basil cup
2. dark valhrona chocolate, wild blueberry bavarois with LHZ ~ amereña cherry reduction
 
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Talking about great wines, what about the line up with presented at our "Cutting Edge Wines from Around the World" seminar, which BTW was the fastest "sold out" session of this year's Gourmet Food & Wine Show in Toronto! "The other Szabo" did an incredible job with the selections! Check it out! Cutting edge, indeed...! And most available from the LCBO! So, stock your cellars for the holidays!
 
1. Itsas Mendi 2007 Txakolina Bizkaiko, Pays Vasco, Spain
2. Pierre Gaillard 2007 Tremadoc Collioure Blanc, Roussillon, France
3. Vigneti Massa 2006 Derthona Timorasso Colli Tortonesi, Piedmont, Italy
4. Long Dog Winery 2007 Tumbling Stones, Prince Edward County, Ontario
5. Galil Pinot Noir, 2006 Golan Heights, Israel
6. Weinert 2004 Malbec, Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza. Argentina
7. Petalos, Decendientes de J. Palacios 2006 Bierzo, Spain
8. Casa Silva 2005 Los Lingues Gran Reserva Carmenère, Colchagua Valley, Chile
 
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And never mind the wines at the Gourmet Food & Wine Show! I have tasted some really kinky Cuban wines the other day! One of them, a 10 years old Tempranillo, was not even bad! Will be soon available at my resto, Osteria in Shanghai!
 
1998 Tempranillo Riserva Tinto, San Custobal, Pinar del Rio, Cuba
I kind of like the label...! Provocative, to say the least, depicting a well tanned, front, below breasts and above the knees naked female body with the pubic area covered with a grape bunch and leaf...! The rest...oh well...! Just like a tawny Port on the nose...! Sweet on the palate at first, but the finish is dry and strongly herbaceous with tobacco nuances...! Goes well with a Cuban cigar...! Also makes a decent reduction...! Other than that, it was still interesting for me to taste my first Cuban wine, ever...! I bet peeps would still buy it because of its label...! But, at least Savanna Samson's "Sogno Uno" is a stunning wine...! Hey, give it a try anyway! 2 stars out of 5.
 
1998 Gran Reserva Tinto, Castillo del Morro, Pinar del Rio, Cuba
Not bad! Plums, dark chocolate, forest floor, tobacco leaf and sweet molasses aroma and flavour notes here. A bit thinned out, still holding on, dry with dried cranberry, leafy, leathery, old world aspect. Interesting, for sure! Castro likes it...! 3 + stars out of 5.




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