The Promenade-a Summer Visit

July9

The historic corner or Tache and Provencher delivers a gorgeous view winter or summer.  When we dined at Promenade Cafe and Wine for D’s birthday in January we requested a table by the window.  It was approximately -30 that evening.  True to the premise that the Canadian prairies produce the most extreme weather in Canada, this past week when I visited the temperature was topping the other end of the scale at +30 degrees.  We still decided to sit outside under an umbrella to enjoy the unobstructed vista.  Yes, it would have been cooler inside, but summer is short in Winnipeg and I intentionally spend every moment that I possibly can, outside.

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The occasion was a business lunch, but because I know my associate so well, we were comfortable to share both our choices.  Duck confit is a traditional French recipe made with the leg of the bird. To prepare a confit, the meat is rubbed with salt, garlic, and sometimes herbs, then covered and refrigerated for up to 36 hours. Salt-curing the meat acted as a preservative before modern refrigeration was common plaec.  Prior to cooking, the spices are typically rinsed from the meat and then patted dry. The meat is placed in a cooking dish deep enough to contain the meat and the rendered fat, and deposited in an oven at a low temperature where the meat is slowly poached at least until cooked, or until meltingly tender, generally four to ten hours.  It was not actually the duck that caught my eye as I perused the menu, but the truffle kissed chickpeas.  I am drawn to the musky taste of “truffled” anything, and the garbonzo beans were a satisfying choice.  The duck and the chick peas were tossed with micro greens, grilled pear slices and a crumbling of blue cheese which assembled a number of tastes on one dish.  The duck unfortunately was not “fall off the bone” the way I prefer it, which would lead me to believe that it was not cooked for long enough or that it was dry-roasted instead of poached.  This is not a complaint, just an observation that the duck was not prepared as I have enjoyed it in the past.

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In the mean time, my lunch date opted for a Crogues Monsieur for us to share. The sandwich originated in French cafés as early as 1910 as a quick snack. The name is based on the verb croquer (“to crunch”).  In essence, the dish is a grilled ham and cheese sandwich and the crunch comes into play when the bread is toasted on the grill to crispness.  Promenade’s version also adds a little dollop of what I thought was a lemony hollandaise sauce adding a citrus taste to offset the salty and savoury ones.  The ham that was rolled up and put back onto the grill for a couple of moments to add a crunch to it as well, was of the highest quality.  I imagined a whole old fashioned ham, slow roasting for an afternoon and then being thinly slaved for the sandwich.  If that is not how the owner Sean and his chef prepare it, they sure had me fooled, because the ham itself was perfection.

To this, the side of perfectly prepared French fries (ironically, better that any I had tasted in France) put my enjoyment right at the highest point of the pleasure scale.  What put me over the top was the gorgeous Fetzer Gewurztraminer that was suggested as the pairing with the Croques.  This grape is sometimes considered too sweet and fruity for some palates, but was the perfect choice to offset the myriad of tastes between our salad and sandwich.  The truth is, gazing out over the forks of the Red and Assiniboine rivers with a clear view of what my family calls the “feather” bridge and the recently completed Canadian Human Rights Museum, I could have easily ordered another glass and whiled away the Friday afternoon with my friend.  We took so long discussing mutual business opportunities that we had to pack our personal news into the moments as we were settling the bill.

All this means, is that another visit to the Promenade before the summer is over, is in order.  Oh the lazy, crazy, hazy days of summer…..

Promenade Cafe and Wine on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote:  “The French approach to food is characteristic; they bring to their consideration of the table the same appreciation, respect, intelligence and lively interest that they have for the other arts, for painting, for literature, and for the theatre. We foreigners living in France respect and appreciate this point of view but deplore their too strict observance of a tradition which will not admit the slightest deviation in a seasoning or the suppression of a single ingredient. Restrictions aroused our American ingenuity, we found combinations and replacements which pointed in new directions and created a fresh and absorbing interest in everything pertaining to the kitchen.” –Alice B. Toklas

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Love-that is all.


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