A Superb Lunch at Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts – Bistro 101

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.

Amuse bouche - Ementhal cheese tart with cranberry compote

Amuse bouche – Ementhal cheese tart with cranberry compote

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.

Dungeness Crab Salad Shaved Fennel and Lemon Foam

Dungeness Crab Salad Shaved Fennel and Lemon Foam





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.

Roasted Halibut with Spinach Risotto

Roasted Halibut with Spinach Risotto

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.

Hazelnut Tart with Blood Orange

Hazelnut Tart with Blood Orange

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.

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.