‘Let’s get this party started!’
The yellow door opened. In walked Clark Day. “Let’s get this party started!” the chef of Kingston’s AquaTerra Restaubistro by Clark said.
It was 5:30 p.m. Friday at the Ottawa Wine and Food Festival. While the Ottawa Convention Centre was beginning to swell with the young and well-dressed, keen to drink, eat, graze and be seen, the 10 of us were seated more sedatelly at Day’s little oasis, about to tuck into his three-course tasting meal.
Day proved to be an amiable and gregarious host, doling out tidbits of info about not only his dishes but the wines from Prince Edward County that were paired with them. The ginger that lent a kick to the chutney in the first course and offset the sweet pear in that mix? A month out of the ground, he said. The Tamworth pigs that gave up their flesh for his meatloaf? Long and lean, he said, better than fattier Berkshire.
Here’s what Day served:
1. Duck and rabbit terrine with an apple, pear, ginger and kumquat chutney, spelt crostini and arugula
A pretty refined starter, I thought. I tried all the components and then tried combinations, prompted Day to comment: “That’s the way I eat too.” The chutney topped everything else on the plate, according to my taste buds.
Rosehall Run 2009 Sullyswicker Rose
Karlo Estates 2010 Riesling
2. Water buffalo and heirloom Tamworth pork meatloaf with habanero purple sweet potato mash, all atop creamed corn.
A three-storey creation of sorts, this dish-in-a-bowl featured creamed corn addictively spiked with Lancaster cheese on the ground floor, a meaty and mild mound in the middle, and a potent, creamy and colourful blog of sweet potato mash on top. It was sort of like a deconstructed, vertical shepherd’s pie.
Day recommended getting all of the comments on a forkful. Parsing the dish, I had to say that the vegetable components really did it for me. (Perhaps I had already reached my pork threshold after eating four courses a few hours earlier at the festival’s bacon bar.)
Rosehall Run 2010 Cuvee County Pinot Noir
Karlo Estates 2010 Cabernet Franc
3. Pumpkin ginger pot de creme with a candied sweet potato crumble.
This was a gentle dessert, really, but a comforting and satisfying one too. The pumpkin filling was well-balanced and nuanced, and the sweet potato had been caramelized just so. The crunch of sugar on the desert’s exterior was a nice accent without being cloying. In fact, the bigger sweet hit with this course came from the wine.
Karlo Estates 2010 Van Alstine White Port
A Taste of Kingston with Chef Clark Day takes place several more times Saturday and Sunday at the Ottawa Wine and Food Festival.