Since the dawn of man, writers and storytellers have been documenting their observations through a mulititude of mediums. From cavemen to bloggers and everything in between, if history is remembered its because its been documented in one form or another. From time to time it isn’t enough to simply sit there and observe; there are those times where a writer must must live an experience first hand to better tell the tale. A couple of weeks ago, a gaggle of Montreal’s high-profile media gathered at Industria Brasserie Italien in the Peel Basin, under invitation from chef Sergio Mattoscio, to take part in their cooking process. For three of us, that meant rolling up ourselves to get an unexpected culinary education.
Industria Brasserie Italien has been open for about a year. What has made this restaurant a curious draw in Griffintown over the past 12 months is its seamless blending of international Italian flaire with a touch of local, Quebecois flavour. Our presence there that night went beyond the normal “sit, eat and write” formula. The chef had also invited Ms. Annie, a close friend who also happens to be very talented in the kitchen, to help him create a one of a kind meal that you’ll only find in Montreal.
After a brief welcome cocktail, we were invited to take our seats and get started on the meal. We were briefly introduced to the Sergio and Annie (pictured above) before a volunteer from one of our tables was called to help out in the kitchen. This was the twist we hadn’t been expecting. Vincent, a writer from one of our favorite blogs, Nudabite, was the first of us to raise his hand. The task at hand; create fresh homemade gnocchi from scratch for our first course, the gnocchi poutine. The secret, we learned, to a perfect batch of gnocchi was how much flour is required. The less flour, the better according to the chef. Though some was used to make our first course, it did lead to a perfect result. Vincent dug in just as the eggs were poured into the potoatos. He really got into the gnocchi making process (who knew making gnocchi required hip girations, but to each their own kitchen, I suppose) and before we knew it, the gnocchi was fried and ready for the rest of the poutine. The sauce used at Industria for their famous gnocchi poutine (this is one of their most popular menu items) is thick and rich and because the caramelization of the cream used, it adds a variety of sweet flavours.
Next up, Myriam from the very popular blog, Paperplanes.ca, jumped at the chance to get her hands dirty in the kitchen. Seeing as how Vincent came out of the kitchen unscathed, she figured that she could do the same. For this course, the chef was preparing lobster pasta and when Myriam discovered what she would have to do, the horrified look that washed over her face was priceless. The chef briefly explained the difference between the male and the female live lobsters that sat in the pan in front of us all. He then warned us that they would have to be killed which got a squeamish response from the crowd (come on people, if you’re gonna make lobster pasta, you gotta crack a shell). Myriam, with her knife in hand, knew what she had to do but in the end couldn’t bring herself to commit lobstercide. The chef, however, had no such qualms. More screams and squeals came from our tables and the happy lobster couple were sacrifced and dismembered. Once they were cooked, Myriam had little trouble jamming a knife under the red shells and going after the delicious meat. Next, the chef prepared some fresh homemade pasta, mixed the lobster into his wonderful homemade pasta sauce and the tables went from screams to satiated, just like that.
The final dish of the evening required much less murder. Our friend, Dustin from foodguymtl.com volunteered for the heavy task of preparing a nutellla smeared dessert pizza. He headed into the kitchen to show off his pizza dough throwing skills (if you follow Dustin on social media, you know that he’s already a very inventive chef) and help prepare the dessert. Once the dough was ready, it was quickly fried and then covered with fresh marscapone and a drizzled with copious amounts of Nutella. Once the pizzas reached the tables, they were devoured in a frenzy.
The event at Industria was one of the most unique I’ve seen as a writer. Watching bloggers squirm, wince and squeal added a jolt of delight to the experience. Industria continues to attract hungry Montrealers because of the quality of their food, their wonderful service and of course that magnicient view of the city they get to boast about. Now that its finally terrasse season, the floor to ceiling windows are open and fresh air and the sounds of the city add to the experience.
Photo credit: David Major-Lapierre
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