Nov 26, 2009

Curious, Heavenly George


Molecular gastronomy, as a rule, doesn't generally interest me. I'd love to go to El Bulli, yes, more for the experience of going, and engaging with food in a way that marries it in a very high-concept, some would argue unusual way, with the artistic aesthetic. I think the main reason it doesn't interest me is that I can't possibly replicate most of those kinds of recipes -fancy, fussy, daring -in my own kitchen. But then, why would I want to? Shouldn't food -some food -be a kind of experience? Should it not possess a kind of inimitable special-ness? Is that not what makes certain restaurants so unique? Some of the best art should, after all, be removed. Just as I can't replicate certain unusual dishes, nor can I write a symphony in the manner of Mozart, or paint a Picasso. And I don't want to. I am happy to leave some things to experts.

These considerations were in the front of my mind coming away from an evening at George, a gorgeous, Zagat-rated restaurant in downtown Toronto. Having been invited by a friend who is a member at the adjoining (and quite frankly, awesomely inspiring) Verity Club, I was curious about the mix of old and new world cuisine that George seemed so renowned for. It may not be molecular gastronomy in the true sense, but it mixed flavours, textures, colours and shades in ways I hadn't experienced -at least orally -before.

In lieu of the main menu, my companion and I opted for the 5-course tasting menu, each of us receiving one delectable -and different - treat after another. One of the appetizers was a salad and seafood affair, another wafer-thin layers of tender, flavoursome sirloin nestled in delicate tasty nests of fois gras. A lovely palate-cleanser of saffron-ginger sorbet acted as an intermission between the wondrously delicious arias. Main consisted of gorgeous, rich entrecotes of beef, cooked in that gentle, knowing way that produces blushing-pink pink that melted on the tongue. Dessert was a selection of goodies made from Meyer lemons (which my companion enjoyed thoroughly) and chili-chocolate cake (mine -and I confess to wanting another piece ever since), followed by a selection of cheese and fruit, simply, elegantly presented.

Lorenzo Loseto and his expert kitchen team lovingly create beautiful dishes that possess a kind of old-meets-new aesthetic; they marry old-world hearty flavours with new-world experimentation, adding in generous portions of clean, artistic presentation that is never fussy but rather, presents food as paintings, complete with colours, textures, shape and shadow, on the blank, smooth palette of white porcelain.

A meal at George was, easily, one of the most memorable experiences of my life, and I rate it as a true culinary destination for both visitors and inhabitants of Toronto. Comforting home-cooking it's not -but nor should it be. Unique, special artistic... delicious. I think my culinary colour range just grew -and for that, I can only be deeply grateful.

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