PUTS ON A 'TANGOLIZING' FESTIVAL = 2013
spending time feasting on Argentine food, taking in live concerts
of music, circus and dance that rhythmically capture this country’s
culture, then being spirited away to different territories to
hear a multitude of non-Latin musical styles also reflected
in remarkable dishes whose gourmet greatness extends far beyond
the Argentine palate?
This year, February’s favourite festival offers over 47
invited chefs from Argentina, Philadelphia and Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean
who are pairing up with Montreal chefs inside their distinct
kitchens, turning the pages of local menus, and completely changing
their content cook up exciting dishes whose flavours favour
their respective region.
festival’s sparkle is heightened with prestigious VIP
presence. Master chef Francis Mallman from Patagonia is the
festival’s Honourary President regarding the food feast.
At Europea Restaurant, this star chef will be serving a seven-course
menu alongside Europea’s top chef Jérôme
Ferrer. The meal will bring to the plate crusted white fish
and lamb confit with guajchalocro from Jujuy, along with other
unique culinary creations sure to enlarge your food vocabulary
and preference for fiery Latin American cuisine. Interesting
that Europea Restaurant’s head chef, Luciano Tordado also
hails from Argentina.
two Honourary Presidents for Lumière’s 70 show-stopping
theatrical, dance and music spectacles are the astounding Alain
Lefèvre and Daniel Piazolla. M. Lefèvre, an internationally
acclaimed pianist has created an inspirational collection of
compositions on his album Fidèles Insomnies and Jardin
d’Images is profoundly moving. As an officer of the Order
of Canada, Chevalier de l’ Ordre de Quebec, he was illustriously
recognized as a genius composer by SPACQ - garnering the André
Gagnon Award. His concert takes place February 23 at Place-des-Arts.
Piazzolla, grandson of Astor, this drummer has collaborated
with the likes of Chick Corea, Gloria Estefan and Gary Burton
– to name a few. His hot avant-garde jazz sextet, Escalandrum
will be performing March 2nd at l'Astral.
en Lumière lights up la belle ville from February
21st to March 3rd. The website: www.montrealenlumiere.com
AND MUSIC REVIEWS
Ready for the Great Gonzalo Gala of Food - a Feast for ALL Your
the stone walls and gorgeously lit shelves brimming with jars,
canisters and bottles of spices, vinegars, oils, homemade tiny
roasted marshmallows and all kinds of sweets and more -- all the
creation of Laurent Godbout -- owner and master chef of Chez L’Épicier,
diners were treated to an astounding 11-course meal created by
the invited genius, Chef Gonzalo Aramburu, who for seven years
has been amazing diners at his own restaurant in Buenos Aires.
chef, each plate serves as a mini stage and the actors on it are
the various tantalizing foods -- each having a significant own
role. The director of the entire show is Chef Gonzalo himself.
In fact, I wasn’t surprised to learn that this 30-year-old
magician of Argentine contemporary cuisine once studied theatre
formally. He’s traveled the world, having left school at
the age of 18. He entered into New York, Chicago and Europe’s
best restaurants to cook -- after having graduated from the prestigious
cuisine school of Le Notre in Paris. Culinary epicureans on a
quest find their Utopia once they experience the creations of
this magnificent wizard of molecular Argentine cuisine.
one must understand about each dish is Chef Gonzalo’s modus
operandi. He is intent on demolishing a static presentation. Each
item on the plate stands at varying levels, offering different
textures, smells and colours. Swirl it together -- and often you
are encouraged to do so -- for it would seem his philosophy involves
interaction above and beyond opening your mouth. Take for example
‘Paint,’ the starter for the evening. The
plate had three tiny jars resembling those that hold artist’s
paint that actually were used to paint a gorgeous wafer. This
colourful trio offered creamy aioli, a purée of roasted
pepper with pine nuts, and basil and spinach. There was even a
paint brush on the plate that I used to create my artist’s
palette which completely satisfied my own palate. (I think he
intended to create a palate pun for this dish). It was so much
fun and wonderful to taste.
starter I loved was the Algarroba blinis (blinsks) with marinated
salmon and hollandaise espuma (foam). Orange caviar rested demurely
on it. There was also on the same plate a Parmesan crème
brûlée that was divine -- as was the soft perfectly
round creamy foie gras which was flavoured in orange. Still, the
culinary chorus line-up is not finished! There was also a tangerine
pumpkin soup served in a demure cup. It was hot on the inside
and cold at the bottom -- a refreshing contrast in temperature
-- yet another of this chef’s iconic trademarks.
dish was I enjoyed was the salad. Typically, the entire act was
layered in all kinds of delicate little leaves and vegetables.
Soft goat cheese could be found in it. Of course the egg, quail
and truffle plate sent me to even loftier heights. Barley risotto
also added surprise to this tasty combination. Then a glass bell
jar, mini tureen appeared at my table. My waiter, Christian lifted
it to reveal a swirling tiny tornado of smoke whose aroma was
pine wood. This dazzling item was coupled with the scallop, wild
arugula dish that was nothing like I had ever seen or tasted before.
Three kinds of mushrooms: Portobello, honey and Paris enhanced
the flavouring and textures even more.
also continued with my crispy prawn that was set on top of a sleek
black piece of volcanic rock where upon it sizzled hot. This was
utterly exciting. The fish theme continued with his deliciously
cooked John Dory feature that was fresh out of Lake Ontario. Fizzing
foamy and airy oyster water rode piggy back on it. Also forming
part of the edible unit was quinoa and truffle lichen. The cauliflower
and olive oil purée was great, but nothing could top this
quixotic surprise: the quinoa was coloured in cuddle fish ink!
ragout in corn cream with ever so slimly sliced grapes (white
inside) and garlic ‘air’ with pecans was the next
thriller. The garlic infuses flavours into the foam -- a traditional
dish but the air is Chef Gonzalo’s own innovation. It was
exquisite to behold and to taste. A piglet piece followed with
quince sorbet and that in turn was followed with a tender piece
of filet mignon and three potato variations: one crisp wafer stood
tall, tiny roasted one and a purée. The dessert of fig
ice cream, pineapple with some lamb juice, a spice mist and pistachio
crumbs was the sweet finale.
Gonzalo Aramburu takes you on a wild adventure that you can’t
forget. See it, swirl it, paint it, dip it, cut it, feel it, smell
it and above all -- taste it. Each dish is an edible masterpiece
which you will never forget! Bravo!
Showcases Young Talent
of this 20-member orchestra is lively and exciting. Led by Daniel
Myssyk, the 11-year old lush ensemble focuses on classical compositions
from all the great masters. Last night (February 26) inside the
majestic Bourgie Hall, the program centered around the theme of
light, and with this in mind, Stravinsky’s “Dumbarton
Oaks” was superbly performed along with Haydn’s Symphony
No.97 in C major, Hob.I:97. Crisp, spritely and magical timing
brought ebullience and joy to our ears.
has an agreement with the Canadian Music Competition to feature
young talents who have walked away as winners. The evening introduced
us to the gifted clarinettist Joshua Zung. A Grade 11 student
at University of Toronto Schools, this teenager produced marvellous
clarity and expression as he performed Rossini. What tone and
confidence! Another talent featured was pianist Jean-Michel Dubé.
He is Van Cliburn in the making. He polished off the Beethoven
concerto with remarkable variations in technique and touch. His
expression and technique were excellent. The soprano Flore Valiquette
gave Mozart’s “Exsultate, jubilate” a noble
attempt, and her high notes are great, but I noted some unnecessary
force in her delivery at certain parts; she has a rich tone that
carried a little vibrato with it. I think she is going to go far;
she is also extremely expressive on stage and beautiful to watch.
criticism of the night was the need for the composer to indulge
in a ten minute palaver about the merits of the Stravinsky, which
was longer than the duration of the piece, and, nota bene,
not a word in English. Likewise the contemporary
composer Stewart Grant whose work “Lux” was played
to full orchestra also spoke too long to explain his creation.
Music needs no explanation, and if it must be, please keep it
short and bilingual. That was the only dark part of an otherwise
a Terrific Taste of Argentina’s Regions with Chef Paula
Calle Restaurant has a star chef there. Her name is Helena Loureiro.
She has taken Portuguese cuisine to a whole new level, and during
the festival she teamed up with Chef Paula Comparatore
to bring to us the incredible culinary talents of this star chef
who owns and runs two restaurants in Argentina -- El Federal and
La Perichona -- housed in la Casa del Virrey Liniers Museum. Chef
Paula, as everyone calls her, created a 7-course feast that featured
her country’s bounteous regions. We all took a trip into
the diverse dishes that reflect the superb flavours and imaginative
combinations that delight the palate of the people, especially
those savvy enough to dine at Paula’s two restaurants.
the first Argentine chef to venture into aboriginal cuisine --
the first one to introduce indigenous influences in the country’s
modern-day cuisine, and as such was and still is a pioneer researcher
in their local foods. She often visits the Machupe Indians and
utilizes their merkey -- a mixture of naturally smoked pepper
and coriander. She is a big fan of the Araucaria pine fruit that
comes from Mapuche in Patagonia. She gets hold of rare herbs and
makes them known to a modern-day
Paula describes her cooking as being “a revision of Argentine
traditions.” During the festival, I was thrilled to experience
her great talent. Each beautifully presented dish was utterly
amazing. The appetizer featured three different numbers sitting
on one plate. There was a goat cheese blintz topped with a tender
slice of trout. This represented Argentina’s lakes in northern
Patagonia. It was divine. In the middle of the plate was a mushroom
tart that represented the region’s valley, and the king
crab delicate soup served in a tiny demitasse represented the
‘traveled’ to the Salta province in the north west
of the country where we were treated to an extraordinarily delicate
empanada of goat cheese, green and red onions, served with a side
cup filled with a gentle spicy sauce of rocota -- a small pepper
that grows in the Andes. This creation was addictive.
main dish brought us to the north-east province of Misiones where
you’ll find the famous Iguazú Falls (where "The
Mission" was filmed). The food was getting more and more
euphoric. For this region, Chef Paula created a slightly crispy
croquette of Dorado. It was lightly covered in coconut and panko
(a special Japanese breadcrumb that is flaky and creates an airy
texture) and coconut. I was reaching euphoria at this point. The
sauce was sugar cane honey with coriander and ginger. Everything
was so light, as if it had been crafted in a land of silk and
to the centre of the country we hit the Pampas. Ostrich is usually
served here, but we settled for deer accompanied with the softest
goat cheese. We also had chimichurri sauce to flavour the entire
edible treasure. Chimichurri is Argentina’s tongue-wagging
staple, but it is also eaten in other Latin American countries.
Used with meats, it consists of dry herbs, rosemary, thyme, parsley,
dried oregano, hot pepper, garlic, red vinegar and olive oil.
It was the Spanish who actually brought this to Argentina, and
of course it has since found its own taste.
dish followed whose provenance is the capital itself, Buenos Aires.
This dream dish consisted of shredded roasted potatoes and fresh
herbs, a grilled shrimp, an egg cooked at 65 degrees with a garlic
mousse with a touch of tomato. Totally weird and wonderful!
dishes followed. The first from the south east province of Ushuaía
consisted of a piece of black Barge fish bordered by two sweet
little muscles in white wine served with a potato puree, olive
vinaigrette flavoured with orange and anise was superb. Her vinaigrettes
are astounding, as are her sauce mixtures. Finally braised lamb
flavoured with Chile’s merquen spice and Malbec wine with
quinoa, mushroom and carrot ragout was the finale before dessert.
I loved the three little dessert numbers that echoed back to the
opening with its three appetizers. The passion fruit and wild
berry parfait-type treat was immeasurably magnificent.
Calle, with exciting ambiance and highly affable waiters and managers
who casually banter with you, is a trip on its own. The whole
place is abuzz -- full of sparkling vitality and energy. What’s
more, you can see some of the last minute preparations. Take a
look at the restaurant’s long front work station counter
where Helena and her chef assistants work.
Paula Comparatore created unforgettable menu. She is as authentic
and charming as any chef could be. Her winsome face always wears
a huge smile. “I love cooking, and have been doing it since
I was 11.” Who would have known she had been a vet for some
ten years before she decided to make her passion her profession.
She is amazing!
way, wines from Latin America and Portugal were appropriately
matched to each dish.
Lefèvre Reveals his Soul in Remarkable Concert
what composition this incomparable composer performed last night
inside the stunning Maison Symphonique de Montréal, each
original work contained the singular elements of
genius, stamina, melodic rapture and bounteous passion that left
us all breathless.
is this magnificent artist whose prodigal creativity expressed
throughout his life’s journey has led to the staggering
brilliance of composition, and heart wrenching emotions translated
into sounds put into the powerful playing of his piano music that
he has brought to prestigious stages, intimate venues and schools
all around the world? His music is touching, playful, exciting,
humorous, lyrical and terrifying, too. It resonates a universal
truth though it originates from one man.
Lefèvre is your genuine article. Despite his iconic herculean
powers of performance, underneath the awesome pianistic mastery,
there lies a real person who, like us all, has experienced life’s
turbulence and treats. And so, last night Mr. Lefèvre revealed
the origins of inspirations for each work he performed. In such
pieces as “Fidèles Insomnies” which revealed
the brutality and betrayal of being beaten by bullies in school.
This work reveals the pain he endured. It was so moving, as was
the three pieces he created, inspired by a certain teenage boy
at a school who always waited every Friday for his father to visit
him, saying his father loves him; but his father never came. I
was moved to tears by the touching sadness in this work. I nearly
Mr. Lefèvre is not without great humour, wisdom and irresistible
charm. With wonderful wit and yes, pathos, he entertained us with
personal anecdotes that revealed the sadness and hilarity behind
his compositions; we were treated to the raison d’être
behind many of the pieces he performed.
his encore, “Les petits lapins,” written for kids
enclosed in dark Ville Émard schools who lacked sleep.
He had composed a fantasy about rabbits going everywhere, and
so this piece was so playful and funny and although it sounded
so simple, it contained intricate rhythms and technical difficulties
with accelerating speeds that typify many of his works.
has traveled the world, performing in Russia and China, and the
anecdotes he told about his performing in these places was very
funny. In Russia, he performed for his encore “Balalaika,”
an original he composed overnight there. The trills were amazing!
Another thrilling work comprising three pieces was about Greece
-- his favourite country These pieces were so vivid: “Ilios
(sun),” “Thalassa (sea)” and “Anemos (wind),”
brought me sunshine, rippling waves, fishermen’s’
boats bobbing on the waves that soon turned ominously wild in
their wicked watery ways intent on sweeping up some fishermen,
the suns’ rays. The tranquility and utter pristine beauty
of Greece’s sea flowed like a never-ending scene before
my eyes. His music transported us away from the cold of February
into a land of beauty. Closer to home, his “Jardin d’Images”
created the stunning landscapes of Quebec, too.
anecdotes were related in French in entertaining ways. Maybe,
I missed some words, but it didn’t matter. It was his music
that took us on a journey into his soul -- one that is profoundly
deep - steeped in a well of powerful emotions and hues and hubris
that demanded to come out through musical composition. His technique
is beyond words; his love for life is as vast as the Greek sea,
and we are only to happy to sail away with him as he leads us
with his piano into musical paradise.
Photo © Caroline Bergeron
Mallmann’s menu offers authentic fiery cuisine from Argentina
chef Francis Mallmann owns five restaurants in all corners of
Argentina. He is a pioneer in this country’s cuisine, and
what is most amazing about this Parisian trained chef whose cooking
is based in the great gaucho traditions, centres around this fact:
everything is cooked on fire above -- below the food that is being
cooked. At Europea Restaurant headed by Chef Jérôme
Ferrer, I was treated to some of the exquisite dishes to be served
as part of a multi-course meal in his role as Honorary President
of the Festival.
with Francis Mallman and Chef Ferrer inside the latter’s
kitchen at the restaurant was a pleasure for them both. I want
to point out that Chef Mallman is a big believer in simplicity
and the greatness of fire-prepared food. He is also a believer
in red vinegar, and I must say the appetizer of king crab with
its sautéed vinaigrette garnish was inspirational. If silk
could have a taste, he created it.
a patient chef whose technique relies on slow cooking, raising
the temperature slowly from 70 degrees to 2000 degrees for some
loved his delicate halibut prepared in salt, and the amazing meat
platter. His special sauces, including a Creole with its stunning
oregano puree was amazing. Indigenous herbs created immaculate
flavours. His dessert flan accompanied with a sour cream mixture
and kumquat on the same platter was divine. The flan tasted like
roasted marshmallows. Wood is his favourite material to use for
preparation; he says bread and fire speak a universal language
-- primeval elements for eating the staff of life that brings
in Patagonia and a lover of nature, Chef Mallmann reigns supreme
as Argentina’s ambassador of authentic cuisine. He does
not believe in fusion cuisine or the notion that certain foods
require certain wines -- the exception being asparagus.
is so delicate and the fiery result is unforgettable. He opened
his first restaurant in Argentina, and he gave it no name at all.
Ironically, his name is known around the world -- one of the few
chefs in today’s world who believes in the beauty of freshness
and Argentina’s timeless traditions where fire and food
are magnificently married.
dinner takes place on February 22 and 23 at Europea. Call (514)
398-9229 for reservations