My first Dine Out Vancouver meal for 2014 was a magnificent lunch at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts – Bistro 101. Have you ever heard of PICA? It is a well-known and respected culinary school for training chefs. The students today were all eager to show off their talents for Dine Out. For my $18 lunch menu I picked:
- Dungeness Crab Salad Shaved Fennel, Lemon Foam
- Roasted Halibut Spinach Risotto Lemongrass Emulsion
- Hazelnut Tart Blood Orange (and a cup of coffee to enjoy it with)
Before starting our server brought us some Amuse Bouche, which was an Ementhal cheese tart with cranberry compote. It had a light buttery/nutty taste from the cheese and a some tartness from the cranberry. A nice flavour combination and a tasty start to what was to follow.
Probably my favourite dish was the Dungeness Crab Salad Shaved Fennel and Lemon Foam. Real crab meat was used in this dish, and not just a little bit; a significant amount of crab meat. The fennel was shaved, not paper thin, slightly thicker so it had some body. The fennel flavour was very light and not overpowering. I liked getting a bit of the blood orange with the crab and fennel as it added a citrus component to the dish. This dish is well worth $18 on it’s own. The plating was also quite beautiful.
My main course was the Roasted Halibut with Spinach Risotto and Lemongrass Emulsion. The halibut was cooked perfectly, not overdone. Very soft to the fork. The lemongrass emulsion added that citrus component that goes so well with seafood. The spinach risotto was also a nice complement adding some texture and green flavour (I could not specifically tell it was spinach I was tasting). I also like the simply grilled vegetables. No heavy sauce was needed for the vegetables. On their own with a bite of the halibut let the flavour of both come out.
What wine did I try with both these dishes? It was the Calona Vineyards ‘Artist Series Chardonnay. This is an unoaked chardonnay with citrus and stone fruit flavours which went nicely with both seafood dishes.
My last dish, dessert, was the Hazelnut Tart Blood Orange, with a strawberry or raspberry sorbet (sorry couldn’t tell). The little pearls you see on my plate are made from milk chocolate. The hazelnut flavour was delicate and was nice with the tartness of the sorbet. My only complaint was the tart was quite small and I would have enjoyed a larger portion to enjoy with my coffee. But it was a nice dessert.
Overall I think the students at PICA – Bistro 101 did an excellent job. My server Rebecca was very attentive and enthusiastic about food and wine. Come see the possible Iron Chefs of tomorrow.
If you are interested in trying Dine Out Vancouver at PICA here is the web link.