Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Grand succès

new garlic fig. a: ail, ail, ail...

Last week's Grand Aïoli event at Alexandraplatz was a labour of love that brought together the energies, talents, and vision of Michelle, Theo Diamantis and the Oenopole crew, and Natasha Pickowicz and Popcorn Youth, along with a number of other local and regional producers and creators, like Caroline Boyce of Floralia and her extraordinarily beautiful flower arrangements, the Birri Brothers and their expert produce, bread from Kamouraska's famed Niemand Bakery, cheeses from Chèvrerie Buckland and Fromagerie Mouton Blanc, and Bernadette Houde and Team Alexandraplatz.

The evening consisted of three courses:

grand aïoli menu fig. b: "A Provençal Summer Feast"

"Le Grand Aïoli":  roughly 15 different vegetables (including turnips, carrots, wild asparagus, new potatoes, cauliflower, beets, green beans, artichokes, and squash blossoms) prepared in a variety of ways (blanched, boiled, roasted, braised, sautéed, and au naturel), all of them served with a heaping quantity of freshly made aïoli

the cheese course:  Tomme de Marechal and Tomme de Faisal from Chèvrerie Buckland; Tomme de Kamouraska from Fromagerie Mouton Blanc; fresh figs, dried apricots, honey, and blossoms; and a selection of breads from Kamouraska's Boulangerie Niemand

the dessert course:  a fresh Quebec strawberry tart made with a crème fraîche- and chamomile-infused crème légère

the wines:  Domaine du Gros Noré rosé 2011; Domaine d'Alzipratu Cuvée Fiumeseccu Corse Calvi rouge 2010; Domaine d'Alzipratu Cuvée Fiumeseccu Corse Calvi blanc 2011

flower child fig. c: flower child

The floral arrangements of Caroline Boyce adorned the tables.  They also adorned our hosts.

dynamic duo fig. d: dynamic duo

Garlic and artichokes figured prominently--both on and off the menu.

first service 1 fig. e: first service gets underway

As the first seating got underway (just moments before the first platters began to be served), things looked like this.

insta-grand fig. f: insta-grand

And as the aïoli platters began to materialize, they looked something like this (as captured by Instagram).

Between the food, the wine, the ambiance, and the assembly of enthusiasts, something magical happened that evening.  Somehow Montreal's natural joie de vivre merged with a sense of Provence's.  One terroir (the one that produced our vegetables, flowers, cheeses, and breads) was united with another (the one that produced the wine).  And the vehicle for this experiment in teleportation was as honest and elemental as they come.



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