April Fools or d’Avril Poisson Menu at Provence

Jean Francis Quaglia kissing poisson 2011

Jean Francis Quaglia kissing poisson 2011

Learn something new every day.  It helps your brain.  So does eating fish.  Where is this discussion going you ask?  Well to the origin of April Fools, and the French restaurants, Provence in Vancouver, where you can enjoy a special fish-based menu.  Still confused?  Read the press release below.  Enjoy!

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(Vancouver, BC) – We’ve all experienced the silly fun that takes place every April 1st – ‘Fool’s Day. However, do you know that the tradition probably started in France where it is called Poisson d’Avril? ‘Poisson d’Avril?’ Doesn’t that translate as ‘April’s fish?’ Like a Dadaist film, Poisson d’Avril doesn’t quite make sense. However it does make for a whale of a good time.

Being French, Provence Restaurants believe that life is to be enjoyed to the full and have transformed a one-day bit of foolery into a month-long celebration of all things ‘fish’ at both of their locations – Marinaside in Yaletown and Mediterranean Grill in Point Grey. Starting April 1st and through to the end of the month, each restaurant will be featuring a different three-course prix-fixe Poisson d’Avril Menu value priced at $45.

Both of these ‘fish forward’ menus offer a ‘school’ of choices – from trout to tuna, sablefish to sturgeon, shellfish to sea bream and everything imaginable in the bouillabaisse; there is something to please every fish fanatic. Grilled, poached, smoked, ceviche, brandade and in soup are just some of the many ways Provence will prepare the ‘finny fare.’ Not a fish lover? Not to worry – there are plenty of non-fish choices available on the regular menu.

The menu concludes with a choice of something decadent from Provence’s regular selection of hand-crafted desserts. Tarte au Citron anyone? Provence’s signature Lemon Tarte is considered the perfect end to a fishy feast.

“As an inaugural member of Ocean Wise, we serve only fish that has been harvested in a sustainable and responsible manner. That still gives us plenty of choice,” states Provence’s Executive Chef and Owner, Jean-Francis Quaglia. “Poisson d’Avril is an opportunity to welcome spring with a bit of fun. This is our fifth year doing it and everyone gets in on the fun – including some of the staff and their children who have created the whimsical fish that adorn the restaurant and menus.”

In France, Poisson d’Avril is an ‘excuse’ to play a practical joke or two. People attach fish (usually paper cut-outs) to the back of their friends and family, who, unaware of the addition to their wardrobe, continue about the day with the new accessory until someone shouts ‘Poisson d’Avril!’ and the jinx is up. During April, some lucky Provence patrons will find a paper fish under their plate or taped to their back. These Poissons come with a prize – perhaps a complimentary appetizer, meal discount, gift certificate or a copy of New World Provence by Chefs Jean-Francis and Alessandra Quaglia; are some of the possibilities.

While there is something very fishy happening at Provence Restaurants this April, diners will agree that the Poisson d’Avril menus are no joke!

Poisson d’Avril Menus:

Provence Marinaside
Provence Mediterranean Grill

MyWinePal suggests you try a Sauvignon Blanc or a rose with the fish dishes from Provence!

What wine to pair with a vegetarian meal?

For those of you that haven’t had a vegetarian meal, think again.  You typically have cereal or a muffin and coffee for breakfast.  For lunch it could be a salad or a vegetable sandwich or soup.  That leaves you with one meal with meat.  You are almost a vegan without knowing it, or doing much.

For most people, dinner is the main meal, and this is where the what wine to pair with a vegetarian meal will be addressed.  There is a wide variety of vegan dishes.  There are vegan dishes from all countries.  For example, Indian food has many curries made with vegetables.  Curries are usually spicy, so my recommendation is a fruity red or white wine.  The fruitiness can hold up to the spice in the wine.  You do not want to pick a dry, tannic cabernet.  A Merlot would be a better choice.  On the white wine side, a Kabinett style Riesling from Germany would work.  I have also been told that Pinotage (a red grape from South Africa) works quite well with curries.

The key point for meals, whether vegan or not, is to consider how the food is cooked (e.g. grilled or sauteed), and what sauce or spices are being used in the dish.  If you have a spicy sauce, then a wine that has lots of fruitiness works, not a dry, tannic wine.  A meal that is sauteed and has maybe a mild, citrus sauce, could pair well with a lighter bodied white wine, such as a sauvignon blanc or a chenin blanc, or a lighter bodied red, such as pinot noir or gamay.  A dish with a creamy or buttery sauce would pair well with a Burgundian wine (chardonnay or pinot noir).  The silkiness of these wines complementing the silkiness of the sauce.

Salads can be a challenge because of the sourness of the vinegar.  You may want to try a high acidity wine such as a New Zealand or BC sauvignon blanc, or a dry riesling from Australia.

Some vegetarians do eat fish.  Most fish are delicately flavoured so again pick a delicately flavoured wine, such as unoaked chardonnay, pinot gris, pinot noir or riesling.  If you get some smoked salmon, try pinot gris, Alsatian riesling, or a pinot noir.

There is much more than I can write about in this short blog.  Hopefully this will give you some pointers.  Enjoy!

White Wine, Artichokes, & Fish for Dinner

I love eating fish. There are the local fish that we all know and enjoy like salmon, halibut, ling cod, and red snapper. But there are also fish brought across from South East Asia and Australia. Some fish you might want to try are Milkfish, Barramundi, or Tilapia.  There are many more fish.  Try visiting the T&T Supermarket.

I have a recipe that I like to use with a white fleshed fish. I use halibut, but cod, sole, and other fish can be used. I did mention other Asian fish, and I will in a future blog talk about a nice way to cook tilapia and a wine pairing for it.

Fish with Artichokes

1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves minced garlic
2 cups sliced mushrooms (optional)
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup dry white wine (chardonnay, pinot grigio)
1/2 tsp salt
4-6 large fish fillets (halibut or rock cod)
1 18 oz can of marinated artichoke hearts (cut in half)
Saute the onions and garlic in the olive oil, then add the mushrooms and dried herbs.  After the mushrooms start to soften add the lemon juice, wine and salt.  Simmer for a few minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 deg F.  Place the fillets in an oiled wide Pyrex baking dish.  Do not put the fillets on top of each other.  Cover with the sauce you just made.  Then add the halved artichoke hearts.  Also pour a bit of the artichoke marinade on top, then partly cover the baking dish and put in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes (you may have to check if the fish is flaky).  Thicker fillets could take longer.

If you don’t like mushrooms, you can substitute with a small zucchini sliced into rounds.  Finally pour yourself a glass of the white wine that you used in the dish and relax.  Serve with some white rice and a salad.  Simple.

An unoaked or very lightly oaked chardonnay or a pinot grigio would work well.  Greata Ranch Chardonnay from BC, Errazuriz Chardonnay from Chile, Mission Hill Five Vineyards Pinot Grigio, or Dirty Laundry Pinot Gris from BC are some options for you.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and wine pairing.