Raw Almond 2019

February19

D has worked for a number of years importing flowers to be sold in many retail places. Many of the blossoms come from Colombia, South America and recently a gentleman from Colombia temporarily moved to Canada to assist with the business. Rodrigo marvels at the winters here and loves the beauty of the frozen landscape. D thought that it would be fun for him to experience Raw Almond where architects design a pop up restaurant right on the frozen river where the Red and Assiniboine rivers meet. And so it was that D invited another couple along and the five of us brunched together.

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Architects also design warming huts along the winter river trail and this one by a Chicago architect caught my eye. It kind of captures my reality. In a couple of sleeps, we will be in summer-like weather of Isla Mujeres, but this week we were brunching on a frozen river.

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From the outside, this looked like a mound of snow covered by a tarp and more snow but inside it was this lovely space with Jenga-like wooden slats pieced together perfectly. I was especially impressed by the arc of this one of two dining rooms. The temperature when we arrived was pleasant enough to doff our coats and by the time we left I was darn right toasty.

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We found places on the wooden slats to hang our coats and we shared one long communal table. This might not go over in many places in the world but on the Canadian prairies it has the same festive atmosphere as a church basement fall supper but elevated by the culinary creativeness of two local Chefs-Talia Shire and Ben Kramer. Having tasted their fare many times previously I knew that we were in for a treat.

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First up was a potato dumpling (we are the land of perogies after all), with shredded pork and a poached egg. The egg was topped with hemp gomashio (a typical Asian condiment or topping usually made with sesame seeds). Then the servers came around with thermal canisters of hot pork broth which got poured over top. The little bowl was very tasty indeed.

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This dish was my personal favourite.  A beet and yam hash was topped with poached pike and then with dill hollandaise. A kale cole slaw accompanied. We eat a lot of pike up at our summer house and I was very impressed with this version. The pike was meaty and perfectly cooked and the hollandaise took it up a good couple of notches to stellar.

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A handsome dollop of braised beef cheeks was perched on top of a creamy polenta. Grated manchego cheese (I eat a lot of it in Mexico)  and a hint of horseradish adorned the dish and the combinations were a resounding success.

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I was done by this time but could not resist the three pancake medallions topped with marscapone and a fruit coulis. A fun element was added-that of puffed grains (and not just wheat that you might have had as a kid). The dish satisfied the need for a Brunch dessert.

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We decided to walk off the four food servings with a stroll on the river. En route we found an ice bar where drinks were served in these stylish ice tumblers. The walk was pleasant in one direction but a bit nippy in the other. Remember we were accompanied by someone from Colombia. I believe that he was especially cold and so we headed back up to the cars and enjoyed the winter scenes from a decidedly warmer vantage.

Kath’s quote: “Going to a restaurant is one of my keenest pleasures. Meeting someplace with old and new friends, ordering wine, eating food, surrounded by strangers, I think is the core of what it means to live a civilised life”.-Adam Gopnik

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

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