Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Aura - putting the 'special' in occasion

We are out for dinner to celebrate a friend's birthday- a milestone one - so we're pulling out all the stops. We don't do this all the time (read: once before), but it's nice to pretend to be rich and famous once and a while. This blog will include extensive food-porn shots - I hope you enjoy.

We booked a chef's tasting menu at Aura Restaurant at the Laurel Pointe Inn. The restaurant itself has a stunning view of the inner harbour, right from the Legistlative buildings over to the Songhees. As an unexpected bonus, our table has been set-up in the private dining room (which looks to hold up to twelve comfortably). Printed menus lay out the meal we're about to experience - complete with wine pairings with each course.

Feeling like Rock-Stars already...

Table in the private dining room
Menu for our meal.

Bring it on.....

To wet our whistles, we're each served an elegant glass of Blue Mountain Brut - because, after all, it's a birthday party: and what says party more than bubbly!  And as if our heads weren't feeling swollen enough - our entire meal was served by the assistant food & beverage manager, Jeremy - who expertly described all of the wine pairings as well.

Following the brut was an amuse bouche of squid and tobiko roe topped with small slices of king clam (geoduck) and a drizzle of olive oil - introduced by the chef, himself, Takashi Ito.

Amuse bouche - squid, roe & clam

First course is shrimp consomme with mussels, clams, scallop and prawn mousse with a sphere of taro root .  Every part of the dish was excellent - but especially the intensely flavoured consomme, the scallop (with one seared side and one partially sliced in a checkerboard to open like a flower once plated) and the fried taro root ball, nestled atop the prawn mousse piers. Paired with a glass of Blue Mountain (Okanagan Falls, BC) Sauvignon Blanc.

Seafood consomme with shellfish.

Second course was mushroom and truffle tortellini topped with popcorn veal. Yes, popcorn veal. The soft tortellinis were sitting on a silky-smooth banana squash puree and the rest of the plate was dotted with spinach beurre blanc. Paired with a Seven Stones (Cawston, BC) Chardonnay.

Truffle & mushroom tortellini

Third course was a seared foie gras (on the left, sitting on a small circle of brioche) and three tender slices of duck breast. The foie gras was served beside port poached pears and the duck atop braised leek. Accompanying wine was a Hillside Pinot Noir (Naramanta, BC).

Foie gras and duck breast

And to cleanse our palates - a round tower of anise granite topped with (we think) powdered pistachio. Very refreshing and unusual taste.

Anise granite

With palates sufficiently cleansed, we moved onto the main course. Beef two ways - short ribs and tenderloin. Served with a carrot puree, half-moon potato latke, baby beets and an incredibly divine demi-glace. Paired with a Mission Hill (Westbank, BC) Compendium.

And last, but most certainly not least - dessert. Chocolate trio: pudding, cone & timbit. Paired with a Summerhill (Kelowna, BC) Chalice.

The "pudding" was a creamy, smooth, layered vanilla and chocolate pot au creme encased in a glossy chocolate cylinder atop a crisp wafer, topped with sugared sea-foam.  The perfect meeting of maki-sushi looks and dessert taste.

The "cone" was a tiny chocolate waffle cone filled with ice cream made from Phillips Chocolate Porter and crowned with a sugar creation that resembled a slice of lotus root. It was held standing in a half chocolate truffle.

The "timbit" was a soft, moist chocolate cake ball with its very own manual raspberry coulis injector.

Every part of the meal was interesting and delicious....much "ohhh"'ing and "mmmm"'ing were made the whole night.

There's no question that we felt like royalty, not only because we were able to eat food of this caliber - but the matching level of service and professionalism that still was fun & friendly.

Aura Restaurant
680 Montreal Street (Inn at Laurel Pointe)
website: aurorestaurant.ca

Aura Restaurant and Patio on Urbanspoon

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