My lovely friends in Netherlands had the great idea to give me a dinner at one of Toronto’s top restaurants for my birthday. My good friend, who is from Toronto but lives in Netherlands, had been kind to make a reservation for me while my mum was visiting me as enjoying good food and wine is always better in good company.

The restaurant they picked is named Canoe, part of the Oliver & Bonacini Restaurants. Canoe is located on the 54th floor. I guess it is needless to say that the view is stunning! Seeing the skyscrapers of Toronto with the sun going down behind them is breathtaking. We had a corner table so on the other side we had the lovely view of Lake Ontario.

We started with a glass of Champagne, as any celebration should do. They served us a delicious amuse of vegetable medley soup with a crispy piece of polenta and Parmesan shave. Then for starters both my mum and I went for foie gras as that is something we both like. I chose the pan seared Quebec Foie Gras with seaside black berries and Ontario peanuts served with toasted brioche. The foie gras were perfect; it basically melted in my mouth! The black berries were both made as a mousse (to the left) and as a preserve, and also some slices of rhubarb, which all  gave a lovely sweetness to the foie gras. I’m not in favour of peanuts as they tend to take over all other tastes so honestly I just tried one and then pushed the rest to the side. But the rest were plain delicious and made to perfection.

My mum went for the Clover Roads Duck “Tongue to Tail” with screech marinated foie gras and rillette & parfait. Duck “Tongue to Tail” were basically that they have used most parts of the duck for small dishes on the plate such as duck confit from the leg, seared duck breast, duck heart, duck rillette and a lovely duck mousse. I must say that the presentation of my mum’s dish were a little more artistic than mine.

To our starter we were recommended to choose the Icewine from Cave Springs Winery, Niagara Ontario. It came with the comment “This is as good as it gets!” And yes, it was just plain delicious. We both marked “too bad something so good comes in so small quantities!”

My mum continued on the game side so to say, and she chose the Green Elder Rubbed Venison with steel cut oats, charred leek, Tourtiere and mountain cranberries. We were both a little curios about the “oatmeal”. (My mum makes oatmeal with steel cut oats most breakfasts.) But the “oatmeal” was more like a risotto. We asked the waiter if he could investigate how it was made and he came back with the information that they had used the jus from when they prepared the venison to give the oats a savoury taste. The venison was perfectly grilled and my mum really enjoyed her “oatmeal”.

Myself digged into the aged bone-in Ontario beef tenderloin with pickled portabello mushroom, heirloom carrots and Kennebec potato croquette. I never had a bone-in tenderloin before so this was something new for me. The tenderloin was grilled to perfection medium-rare! And so tender I hardly needed to cut, the knife went straight through the meat! And the pickled portabella mushrooms gave a nice acidic tint to the dish.

My mum enjoyed a glass of the Norman Hardie Cabernet Franc Prince Edward County North Shore 2010, while I was served a glass of Mission Hill Merlot Okanagan Valley British Columbia 2008.

At this time we were both quite full but I can’t resist some good cheese and a port. So needless to say for those who know me well, I ordered the cheese platter. And yes, my mum helped me after some persuasion. The cheeses from left to right: Tiger Blue (Cow’s Milk, Stilton Style), Glengarry Lankaaster (Cow’s milk and they said it was Dutch style, aged 12 months), Chamble (unpasteurized Goat’s Milk, aged 8 months) and finally St. Honore (Cow’s milk, aged 4 months). Yes, the last one looks like a goat’s milk cheese but it was actually a cow’s milk.

Sitting there and sipping on the last port wine (my mum had a coffee) the staff came out with a nice grand finale. I’m not much for dessert but this little last treat with mostly fresh berries is just the kind of dessert I like.

The staff at Canoe all showed the courtesy as a place like this should have and helped get the full experience of a lovely dinner and evening.

A big thank you to my good friends in Netherlands who had given me this thoughtful gift. It was a true gift to my taste, just as you knew it would be! The only thing missing for the dinner were your company!

Remember Life is too short to not eat and drink well!