food to remember

September 3, 2009

I was recently thinking about the top meals that I remember eating. A ten course meal at Accolade (by Michael Potters), Avalon (Chris McDonald), and a couple at Eigensinn Farm (Michael Stadtländer) were exceptionally memorable.

I remember the turn of the century New Year’s Eve at home with smoked salmon and a wonderful bottle of 1990 Charles Heidsieck champagne. A spanish wine tasting (again at home) with accompanying tapas. And of course Tapas the restaurant where I fell in love with Aïoli. A seafood dinner at Artisanale left us completely sated. There are so many more.

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Recently, I ate (yet again) at Artisanale – Yasser Qahawish’s Guelph restaurant. Yasser has a great philosophy about food. He feels that good food should be available to everyone and that good relationships are required between the chef and his or her producers and suppliers. He counts on the farmers as part of his team and they are regularly seen eating in the restaurant.

Yasser was the chef at Osgoode Hall (Law Society of Upper Canada) for several years before the toll of commuting to Toronto from Guelph every day became too much for him. He and his partner Allison opened Artisanale in 2007 and their dream continues unfolding with tasty results. He has also dedicated a chunk of his time to training his wait staff – they know the menu, the wine list, and are courteous and friendly.

I have eaten at Artisanale five or six times and I have always enjoyed the food and the creativity in using Ontario’s local harvest. I recently enjoyed tasting raw Ontario artichokes, Ontario whitefish and Lake Erie perch. I wish I had a neighbourhood restaurant like this near me. And by the way Yasser’s frites are deadly – they can almost start fights at the table.

artisanale in guelph

August 6, 2009

I had an incredible meal in Guelph last weekend courtesy of Yasser Qahawish (previously from Law Society of Upper Canada). Most of the food at the table was shared.

We had “carpaccio” of Ontario artichoke and Yasser’s father’s heirloom zucchini with mint and lemon. Poached egg and artichoke chips (tempura) with Spanish bravas sauce. Grilled octopus and fava bean. Whitefish with swiss chard and cauliflower. Moules-frites. More frites. All accompanied by 2006 Roque Sestiere from Corbières.

Desert was raspberry tart, creme legere cake, and chocolate mousse (because they sold out of Yasser’s chocolate cake). Coffee and espresso.