Monday, 6 May 2013

Pêche Pâtisserie

I've long been a fan of  Pêche Pâtisserie. I was one of their first followers on Facebook when they were based out of Chaguanas. Chef Khalil Ali has been making a name for himself as a bit of magical baker. If you can imagine it, Ali can deliver it. The imagination and craftsmanship that goes into his desserts and baked goods have ensured a loyal following of foodies who flock daily to little Picton St patisserie. The Bloggers' Table (Marie from TriniChow, Sarina from TriniGourmet, Q from Bring It To The Table, and Corey over at Learning Patience and I) were here to road test some of the more recent additions on the menu. If the rumors were true, we were in for a treat. Ali seems to have a natural instinct for the luxurious and the sublime. With offerings such a roe for breakfast, a daily lobster bisque, and the most recent addition - lovely big (local!) oysters, Peche is morphing out of its patisserie status and growing up into a heavy weight small bistro. 

Sourdough foccacia with olive oil, roquefort, cheddar, and fresh herbs
It seemed fitting that we'd start off our marathon luncheon with some baked breads (it is, after all, still a patisserie). The foccacia was soon joined by an olive fougasse made with sourdough, organic rye.  And olives of course.
Olive fougasse
The rumours were true. Oysters! Anyone who knows me well is very familiar with my oyster obsession. To say that I love them is an understatement. And these were big, juicy, and cold. Lovely with a briny, salty under note. Definitely more briny than milky and more to my liking. I like to taste my oysters.

Oysters on the half shell.

Q politely stopped after two. But when I realized that not everyone at the table shared my oyster passion, I did not politely stop at two.
A mouthful of briny wonderful-ness!
I had one alone. And then I had one with a splash of lime. The lime worked well with the briny, salty flavor. Just a small splash, to complement, not overpower.
Fresh lime
Lovely, cold, and briny.
 Then I tried one with lime and the zingy horseradish dip. 
And just when I thought it could not get any better (!) out came the platter of Oysters Rockefeller.  I'd had my share of oysters, rockerfellered and otherwise, in New Orleans recently so I can speak with some authority when I say that these rockerfellers can hold their own anywhere.  A roasted creamy herb topping, a smidgen of shallots, the de rigeur spinach, and a light dusting of panko bread crumbs dressed the oysters before being gently cooked. Wonderful stuff.

Oysters still plump under their Rockerfeller blankets.
Oysters Rockerfeller done to perfection
The way had been paved for the egg and smoked salmon salmon that was waiting in the wings. The salmon had been rolled and laid on a bed of artisan greens.  
Tight rolls of smoked salmon make this presentation a feast for the eyes
The tight curls of the smoked salmon told me that this salad had been prepared with the same precision that Ali applies to his desserts. An attention to detail that makes the presentation of the dish very much a multi sensory experience. Tasting with the eyes. I was very taken with the sliced egg which were so perfectly done (with a mandolin maybe?) that I had to look closely to confirm that they were, in fact, eggs.
The eggs were perfectly sliced and sprinkled with roasted capsicum. The Parmesan crisps add visual texture as well as provide a necessary "cracker-like" addition to this salad. 
The beauty of this presentation is that once the eggs are served, the whites fall away to reveal the yolks and add a dash of yellow. The eggs were hard boiled and tossed in roasted capsicum. Scattered around were little crisps of Parmesan and a sprinkling of feta.
This was followed by a paneer salad. 

Lightly seared paneer was served up on greens with a crisp vinaigrette  Paneer is malleable with a gentle creamy texture. Lovely!

But nothing prepared us for the excitement of the Snow Crab Legs. I'm trying to write this as if these dishes came out one after the other. Actually, many of the dishes came out simultaneously, which allowed us to taste and sample and come back to taste again. The more dramatic the presentation of the dish, the more excited we got. It is a lot of fun, all this eating and photographing and note taking with other bloggers. I highly recommend it. 
Snow Crab Legs served with buttered creamed cassava.
 The Snow Crab Legs not only wowed us with their presentation, we all had to learn from Corey, who managed to carry on a full conversation all the while seemingly oblivious to the skillful crab leg decimation that showed her stripes as a seasoned crab eater. (note the color coordination - hip blue nails and Snow Crab Legs perfectly matching the shirt - that's our girl!)

Q, on the other hand, was like - whoa! That's some legs!

Marie learned fast. Bend at the joint. Crack and pull. Dip in delicious herbed garlic and Chardonnay butter.

It's easy once you get the hang of it.
Sarina opted for an Egg Norwegian which is a variation on an Egg Benedict. With the Norwegian, the classic ham or bacon in the Benedict is replaced with smoked salmon.

Egg Norwegian
The poached egg sits regally on its bed of English muffins, spinach, and smoked salmon liberally sauced with a lemon and paprika Hollandaise and a Parmesan brulee before being run lightly under the grill. 
By this time, our main meal had arrived. A Peche specialty. Tandoori Atlantic jumbo shrimp served with a tikka masala sauce. The flavors were bright and the shrimp not overcooked which is always the risk with tandoori (my opinion). But they were firm (not hard) and full of flavor with the hints of cardamon, mustard seed, and cinnamon all coming through the cream based sauce. The shrimp were served simply with a basmati rice and greens.

Yes, it was a wonder that we had any room for dessert. But we did. After all, you can't come to Peche and not eat dessert. There are many little gems to choose from, each handcrafted with a jeweler's precision.

A small selection of some of the desserts available at Peche.

This little bonbon was a blueberry and saffron cheese cake served on an almond pecan base.

But I had my eye on the Pave de Roy, an 80% chocolate, 20% rum concoction that had the texture of a truffle.

And no dessert is ever complete without a least a spoon of creme brulee. 
Sheer decadence.
If you can, visit Peche for lunch. It's best to get there early as the room fills up quickly and parking can be limited on Picton St. I like to visit their Facebook page which is pretty good about getting information out to customers. That's how I keep up with what's new on the menu. I anticipate that they will have to move sooner rather than later because with an expanding menu, it's only a matter of time before customers will be clamoring at the door for more space, and we can only hope - a dinner menu. But for now, visit them for lunch and take home some chocolate croissants for tea.

When you do go, don't forget to try the oysters.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi, sorry to 'gatecrash' the blog, (which is fascinating by the way), I'm wondering if you're married to Dr Ross Millar? - I was at Glasgow Uni with him (84-89) in the days before family, children and the passage of 20 odd years in what feels like 2 weeks. I must be in a nostalgic phase as thinking it would be good to touch base again. Is there an email/phone number that's good? Thanks; best wishes, Al Holdcroft (