Tuesday March 13
Just to prove once again that our Brock friends are the nicest people on earth (and possibly even in Canada), Ally and Dave threw their elegant home open for a farewell party for us, and the department turned out in force.
The wines were mainly local VQAs, the cheeses mainly Ontario, including Devil's rock pyramidal blue cheese, various soft brie types, and sharp aged cheddar, to be eaten with bread, crackers, or sliced apples and pears. There were also olives and strawberries to refresh the palate.
Then a group of us headed out to Zest, a restaurant we'd last visited in 2009, and it's still providing creative and excellent farm-to-table food.
They started us off with an amuse-geule of a savory risotto cake while we drank a pinot noir and contemplated the menu.
Our appetizers were curried lamb "Naanza" - naan topped with said lamb, pickled onion, arugula and goat cheese - and a dozen briny little P.E.I. oysters, Malpeques and Lamèques.
We then went on to roasted Quebec duck breast, its crisp skin redolent of five-spice, drizzled with raspberry vinaigrette, served with crispy parsnip chips, haricots verts, and one tiny braised turnip; and some slices of grilled Cumbrae Farms beef tenderloin, with more haricots, a soft, spicy pancetta and aged cheddar potato cake, grilled portabello, and foie gras butter.
Incredibly, after all that and the cheese too, we were able to wrestle down a dessert that Holt knew Barbara would adore: lemon tart, plus a taste of ginger-chocolate crème brulée.
We will sorely miss Ally, Dave, and all our Brock colleagues, but we want them to visit us frequently. And we promise to try and feed them this well when they come.