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Monday, 13 January 2014

Culinary Carpentry at Woodwork

Culinary trends are as capricious and ephemeral as those in fashion, film, and God knows what else. Food trucks are the thing right now, but for how long?  This trend is at a stage where restaurateurs with brick-and-mortar eateries are slapping on a pair of wheels, but Chef Mike Scorgie hung up his truck keys in favour of a hip new spot downtown. Here at Woodwork, on a wintery Saturday night, the tables are packed with epicurious patrons snacking and imbibing upon the co-creations of Mike Scorgie and Andrew Borley.


Beef Steak Tartare compels a reexamination of raw beef. A quirk of North American society dictates that consumption of raw fish, in the form of sushi, is perfectly acceptable, but spasms of squeamishness often emerge at the prospect of consuming raw beef. Woodwork's interpretation of the classic tartare intermingles with elfin shreds of pickled beet and a solar orb of yolk. The summation of these ingredients is both sweet and rich, and perfectly beefy. The sidecar of potato crisps, however, is too delicate to scoop up the enviable beef unaided.


An orb of Pork Shoulder Confit sports a ruby onion crown and lounges upon a bed of lentils. A fork's nudge reveals supple shreds of fragrant meat that loll in bliss within a light gribiche sauce - miniature rectangles of egg white (long lost partner to the tartare's yolk, perhaps?), parsley and pickles.


Saskatchewan Yellow Grits harken to the deep south, rather than our sister province, but evoke the same feelings of comfort and satiety embodied by my birthplace. (Having spent the better part of my life in the Rectangular Province, I've never seen a comparable dish, but no matter) Creamy yellow  grits are kissed by a seductive whisper of brown gravy and it is difficult not to lick the plate afterward.


Chowder St. Jacques follows a similar vein of creamy comfort food, though this dish necessitates a spoon. A noteworthy biscuit hides a marshmallowy scallop, but not for long. Little hints of parsley and onion seal the deal.


Mac & Cheese, however, veers from the path sent by the preceding dishes. The cheese within is far too understated and borders upon aridity. I am told that the infamous Crack N Cheese on Scorgie's former food truck, Nomad, was far creamier.


Sweet redemption arrives in the guise of a Peanut Butter, Chocolate and Raspberry Thang. This sweet, young thang is Reese's Pieces all grown up and ready for a trip to the Video Music Awards. Smooth, smooth peanut butter meets a velvety chocolate base laced with tart raspberries. More, please.


A Pear and Goat Cheese Galette sees out the evening with a roar, rather than a whimper. Decidedly unmusky chevre elevates humble pears to a a striking coda, all cuddled within the confines of perfectly flaky pastry. The truck scene's loss is the rest of Edmonton's gain, for these dishes comprise culinary carpentry most refined.


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