It’s the chance encounter, introduction that often becomes the most meaningful. At Toronto’s Terroir Symposium, a chance introduction — amongst the huge crowd of hospitality professionals — to one of the city’s most heralded dessert chefs, led to a delightful experience.
Richmond Station is a restaurant with a subway theme, started by a winner of Top Chef Canada. I was able to meet its dessert chef, Farzam Fallah. He was described as a great chef in our introduction, but I took that as professional courtesy in a suite of rooms filled with chefs. Then, this just turned 23 year old wunderkind quietly affirmed, “I really try to do something different there.” That gave me pause.
I was in a symposium with several food stations serving samples to throngs of crowds in line. With the din of folks catching up with long-lost colleagues, the sampling utensils/presentations, standing and eating, the bar, it’s more about a taste of things than a full culinary experience. Fun in its bursts of flavors and hyper-kinetic activity, It whets your appetite for more.
Of course, a meal is a different kind of experience. For me, it’s sensual in that everything should be triggered. I listen for soundtracks, check out the decor, the cutlery, the uniforms, along with how everything smells and tastes.
So, on an early evening when I knew I had to be up at 4 am the next morning for a wild turkey hunt, I made a little detour for an indulgent dessert. After all, “they” say life’s short, eat dessert first!
Richmond Station is kinda hidden in plain view, like real subway station. I found myself standing right in front, with Map Quest, not realizing it. Keep your eyes peeled.
Because I was just staying for dessert, I was able to snag a spot at the coveted chef’s bar, which kinda of looks like a subway platform. The walls are covered in — you guessed it — white subway tiles. I got to see all the magic in action.
Fallah had just been at the symposium where “terroir” — the local land — was the focus of flavor and experience experts. I had some difficulty choosing between his different exotic offerings. I consulted with my server. I was — to be 100% frank — not leaning towards a fruit-centered dessert. So many “local” desserts are old-fashioned fruit cobblers dressed with sugared heavy bread crumbs or some such. Maybe they were enticing out on the pioneer prairie, but nowadays, that presentation/texture is a snooze. The server assured me that the fruit dessert was actually the favorite of diners that evening. I gave it a chance . . .
I’m so glad I did! In the hands of an artist, fruit is an important color in the palette, so to speak. Sea Buckthorn Posset was plated with blueberry sorbet, wildflower cake, apricot-rose puree, puffed sorghum. Sea Buckthorn is a very tangy berry found in very northern climes. There were also chamomile and violets on the plate. I was familiar with candied violets from older English recipes. But chamomile in a dessert was new to me! How subtly apple-like and good was it? The week I returned to the US, I made a beeline to the nearest nursery (a cute store next door to my house) and got some chamomile plants! I want this flavor on my desserts forevermore!
Posset is a dessert evolved from a drink that dates from Medieval times. This posset was of a custard consistency.
The plate was also garnished with snips of candied rhubarb, which added crunchy tangy fruit flavors.
The blueberry sorbet had deep fruit flavor, not just a sweet ice (like so many are).
My check was presented with a bit of fudge with sea salt, so that was win-win!