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Sunday, 10 November 2013

True Grits - Secret Supper at Creole Envie

Who doesn't love a juicy secret, especially where dining is concerned? I recently attended Edmonton's first Secret Supper, thanks to a generous invitation from organizer Gemma, and must confess that - as with all good secrets - it is a morsel of knowledge worth sharing. The gist of secret suppers, which are an open secret worldwide, is that the location is not revealed until right before the event. Creole Envie, as I discovered the morning of, hosted our inaugural hush-hush dinner.

The gentle aesthetic of Tasso Prawns cleverly hides an utterly, incendiary, all-consuming afterburn. Pickled okra helps tame the fire; this veg's characteristic sliminess is obliterated in favour of a green bean-like crunch.

Crab-stuffed Portabellas burst with cheese drippings and crustaceanesque juices. Overall aroma is a bit "wharfy" in the sense that in evokes a seaside pier in the best possible way. The gargantuan mushroom functions like a large bivalve in both texture and appearance.

Turtle Soup is neither teenaged nor mutant in composition and presentation. Tiny veal morsels intermingle with the "holy trinity" of Creole veggies - onions, celery, and peppers. Shreds of real turtle, which is supple and demure, float atop a brick red base. The entire gestalt is one of soul-warming strength. 'Tis ironic that so many cold-weather dishes trace their natal roots to hot climes.

Bay Scallops with Pancetta are the evening's runaway hit. Two plump pillows coexist with spicy, porcine shards and mercifully ripe, miniature tomatoes. Each nibble constitutes a gustatory explosion of spicy and sweet.

Next up are Grits with Crawfish. Ever-smooth white grits are flecked with reddish crawfish, the flavour of which falls somewhere between lobster and crab - more focused than the former, yet softer than the latter. A puddle of heavy cream ups the richness factor. The entire composition is reminiscent of other corn-based comfort foods; think Ukraine's nachinka or Italy's polenta.

Frog Legs with Piquant Sauce visually evoke a pair of skinned Barbie limbs, but texturally elicited comparisons to firm, white fish or loose muscle-fibered fowl. "It tastes like chicken" does justice to no one; frog is a mild-yet-assertive paradox all on its own. Chunky tomato piquant sauce complements without being overbearing.

Dessert, though there is scarcely room after so many courses, features peaches, pecans (how I wish they were pralined or candied) and cream with just a suggestion of bourbon. The secret is out.

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