Welcome to Second Ferment! Wine pairs well with life ... and food, travel, people, work and play. Grab a glass and join me as I explore the wine scene in Ottawa, Canada, and beyond. Love hearing from my readers, so please leave a comment. Cheers! - Bethany

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Every mom should go to Beckta

Kinduv like a long-weekend birthday. Why settle for just one day? Between the shopping, the spa and feasting on fine food, this mother is one happy camper.

The highlight of this three-day celebration of "being Ma" was definitely the five-course tasting dinner at Beckta. This was a long time coming for Mom and me. We'd talked about it a bunch, but our schedules never seemed to fit (too busy spending other mother's days in New York City, Kingston, Quebec ... you know how it is.) So this year, with me being too preggo to manage any great distances, we decided now was the time for Mum's first experience at what I consider to be *the* best restaurant in Ottawa.

The evening, gilded in top-notch service and warm hospitality, was an exciting, off-menu venture into the unknown. Our server, Tristan, carefully noted our respective allergies before chef de cuisine Dirk and his team blew our minds with unexpected combinations and party-in-our-mouths surprises.

First course: raw slices of Digby scallop with a hot-sweet flavour of chili and dehydrated pineapple, sprinkled with snappy tempura tidbits.

Second course: Grilled trout glazed in a shallot and blood orange syrup, on a bed of fiddleheads and bok choy so fresh I had visions of Stephen picking the greens off a forest floor that morning.

Third course: Hand-pressed ravioli filled with lamb neck meat and lemon. The citrus flavour was carried right through the sauce, which gave each piece of pasta its own spring coat of smooth cream and crispy onion. Mom's rare quail on a bed of fingerling potato risotto was the star of the show. The sauce chasseur was spiked with Australian fingerlime, tiny, caviar-like fruit pods that burst with tart juice on contact. I cracked up watching the startled expressions flit across Mom's face every time another seed dislodged itself from a back tooth and exploded.

Fourth course: Aged striploin done to perfection with roasted veg and a smoked pinenut and maple sweet potato rosti. For this course, I indulged in a few sips of a Tin Barn 2005 Coryelle Fields Vineyard Syrah (Sonoma Coast, California) and had one of those "food moments". Aromas of resinous smoke seamlessly mingled with the flavour of the rosti, which brought to mind the charred outside of a marshmallow recently toasted over a campfire. I could have easily dined on that alone for the rest of the night.

Dessert: Limoncello Jell-o. 'Nuff said. Oh, and it came with a moist orange olive oil cake that went particularly well with the sparkling wine sabayon drizzled over Mom's fruit plate.

And how could I forget the Beckta kirs, the amuse-bouche of tuna pâté crostini; the intermezzo of elderflower water poured over a sorbet of kumquat, cardamom and mint; the petit fours of almond macaroons, maple buttercream-iced banana bread, and a gazpacho of grapefruit and strawberries?

Four hours of savouring, drinking, laughing, eye-rolling and indecipherable noises of pleasure brought on by each new mouthful. That's the way one should eat.

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