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Friday, 17 June 2011

Indulgence 2011 - Guinea Fowl Play

Guinea fowl are archetypical African fauna. These chicken-sized birds are sleek, sharply adorned with a helmet-like headdress, move with quasi-erratic purpose and carry an air of quiet dignity as they scuttle under the thundering feet of wildebeest and elephants. Half a world away, sous-chef Vincent Horvath checks the mise en place of 4404 Restaurant's booth at Indulgence '11. 4404 is new thread in Edmonton's dining fabric, and tonight Horvath - and guinea fowl (raised locally) - will act as ambassadors of this neoteric eatery.

The Edmonton skyline at sunset. How do guinea fowl fit into this scene?

"We just opened in September 2010," relates Horvath. 4404 occupies the niche once held by [now defunct] Botanica, but Horvath emphasizes that hotel cuisine ought to be accessed by a group far broader than peripatetic travelers. "We use local ingredients as much as possible," he explains, "and, while some things like mussels are not local, our bison and beef are Alberta-raised." He adds, "Our pickerel, which we cure with citrus, comes from Slave Lake."

Horvath trained at NAIT and honed his culinary chops both in Canada and abroad. "I cooked for a while at an Italian restaurant by the Tower Bridge in London. It was great experience to see and experience different things and take those basic techniques back here," he recounts. Tonight, at Indulgence, Horvath has prepared guinea fowl and blueberry spring rolls with apricot relish. A shatteringly crisp exterior yields to reveal tender meat that, in flavour, falls somewhere between chicken and turkey. The berries add depth and the vibrant relish kisses each morsel of fowl with sweet acidity. Guinea fowl are an unusual offering and are far outside their natal continent, far outside the expected. 4404, in a similar vein, surpasses the expected.

Fowl finds a happy partner in apricot relish


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