Edmonton wishes, quite clearly, to be a world-class city. It's no secret. One need only scan the downtown horizon, blink once or twice, and then marvel at the gangly sky scrapers popping up like daisies through the tired snow. This shift from "big small town" to "world class city" cannot be forced or coerced, though, and cannot happen through edifice and infrastructure alone. Irrefutable as their contribution to a city's acquisition of 'metropolitan' status may be, this tectonic shift is the consummation of many small, worldly acts.
Exposure to cuisine from far-flung realms comprises one such worldly act. I was fortunate to receive an invitation several weeks ago to a supper at Rostizado, starring Chef Xavier Perez Stone, who presently cooks at Grand Velas Riviera Maya Resort, located in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Though I have never traveled to Mexico, or to anywhere even remotely warm, for that matter, Mesoamerican ingredients, techniques and unbridled flair filled Rostizado's smoky-sweet space for a few fleeting hours on a damp January evening.
Supper begins with a bang, materializing in the earthly form of Foie Afrudato (upper right). This is a carnival ride on LSD: whispy, hyper-sweet cotton candy puffs that vanish into thin air with rich, fatty, velvety foie gras underneath. Langostra Negra (upper left) is practically the opposite: cool, restrained but never subdued, and light as air. Lolling lobster morsels share quarters with cucumber swirls, passionfruit puree, avocado, and tomatillo. One's Stradivarius to another's Fender: strikingly different, but easily masters of their own field. El Mar en Verde Moncromatico (lower left) emphasizes that seafood - in this case, sea bass - ought to be treated gently and never overcooked. Indeed, a good vet should be able to revive it. Perez Stone's seabass frolicks with green poblano chile sauce and collapses into buttery myomeres at the slightest touch. Finally, La Frutabilidad del Venado (lower right) reaffirmed the veracity of good venison. Here, the noble deer is kissed with hibiscus and beets; red ingredients that call out the meat's lavish sweetness.
Dessert, though there is scarcely room after a quartet of courses, is irresistible. Sopa de Coco y Pan de Leche (right) seduced with a paradox of sunny pineapple and moonglow coconut milk, all transversed by a braided river of crisp cookie, twisting like an ancient river through a post-glacial landscape. Choco Parece Playa No Es placed discs of banana in a lunar vista composed of chocolate ice cream, banana mole, and olive oil truffle - a summation of unctuous, luxurious textures that beguile, but never impose or overwhelm.
The change from "big small town" to "world class city" can be imposing and overwhelming, but only when such change is forced. These things need to happen on their own, on a smaller scale, even at the scale of a dinner plate. Chef Xavier Perez Stone's visit is a good start.
Read Marlow Moo's impression of the evening here.