LCT Canada: Hyperbole On the Menu

Posted on July 23, 2008 by LCT Magazine

We can't let our LCT Canada coverage pass without some reference to the delicious multiple courses served during the Operator of the Year Award dinner at the Toronto Hilton.

But what truly tickled us senseless were the menu terms to enhance anticipation of the dinner. We learned menu concepts foreign to your average diner at Denny's, Applebee's, or Sizzler.

Our first course included a couscous "timbale." Translation: Couscous packed into a drum-shaped mold. (Timbale probably was used on the menu because it sounds more appetizing than "drum" or "mold").

The couscous timbale was accented with a smoked tomato emulsion. Emulsions sound a bit scary to those of us who've been through a chemistry class, but the basic translation: Sauce splattered onto a plate. (The term "splatter" could never be used because it's more suited to a culinary crime scene).

Our second course, involved a lobster fricasse. A fricassee (another spelling) is a meat cut into pieces and then stewed and served in its own juices. ("Stew in your juices" is more of an insult, and would not be a polite menu term).

The third course brought "red bliss smashed potatoes," and "market vegetables in a port wine reduction." These menu entries bring up all sorts of questions: Is it more blissful for the cook to smash the red potatoes instead of mash them, hence the name? And from which market did the vegetables come from: Whole Foods or the local Piggly Wiggly? And why would anyone want to reduce the port wine? Port wine is good.

Finally, after downing a timbale, experiencing an emulsion, chewing on a fricassee, ogling those smashing potatoes, and getting reduced by the port wine. . . the dessert course gave us a chocolate cigar. But don't envision some fat, long stogie of dark Godiva. While scrumptious, our chocolate cigars were more like those Slim Jim? or Virginia Slims? cigarettes (You've Come A Long Way, Baby!).

And in a way, the chocolate cigar that stuck out of the chocolate molten cake was the perfect faux-smoke for the palate after so much gastronomic excitement. We hope future LCT events indulge its participants to this extent, but please don't ever reduce my port wine again.

-- Martin Romjue, LCT Editor

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