I have had the privilege of eating at the finest restaurants in Montreal with some of the finest people in the city. Running from one neighbourhood trying all kinds of food is part of my passion and I couldn’t be happier to combine that with my love of writing. Every now and then I have the chance to participate in something truly spectacular and late last month I had the pleasure of eating a very special dinner in NDG in honour of this year’s Earth Day.
Although seafood is the last thing I will gravitate to, it remains one of the fundamental foods that has gotten me where I am today. Growing up in Newfoundland seafood and fish were staples of our diet often eaten the same day it was fished. The fishery not only provided me with some of the healthiest food I have ever eaten, it was the livelihood that paid for everything from the books I read to the clothes on my back.
In 1992 the fishery in Newfoundland collapsed for several reasons. Under regulated overfishing was a major a contributor to a moratorium that resulted in the economic collapse of our province that I don’t think we’ve still fully recovered from. Following the moratorium an exodus from Newfoundland began that would see much our population relocate to other provinces (and in some cases countries) to find work and fend for ourselves. The once plenty waters of the North Atlantic were now filled with practically endangered species and a people whose history is as connected to the ocean as our livelihood were left to begin again.
25 years later Newfoundlanders, Maritimers and even those who fish the waters of the Pacific live in a very different world. Environmental change, pollution and in some cases still, overfishing continue to ravage the waters of our world but an education in sustainability has helped add a little hope to a serious situation. Groups like MSC work diligently to ensure that generations to come understand the depths of how important our oceans and their inhabitants are to the balance of our world. Intelligent and sustainable fishing means we can continue to enjoy our favorite fish and seafood without emptying the ocean.
Underlining the importance of sustainability was the theme that ran through our delicious dinner last month. Gathering with some first class food bloggers and critics in a delightful kitchen in NDG we were served 4 courses of fabulous food, prepared by Celine Rouzaud and provided by the wonderful folks at the MSC (Marine Stewardship Council). In Montreal it’s hard to be at an event and not have oysters and this dinner was no different. Several people took turns shucking with the rest of us waited to devour them. Even though I continue to wade deeper into the world of seafood, I’m still not quite a fan of oysters which no one else seemed to have a problem with. More for them.
Taking to our seats we began our meal with a bowl of raspberry, passion fruit and hot pepper infused halibut ceviche. The ceviche was a perfect blend of sweet and tart and the fish tasted fresh. It always impresses me when we live so far inland and can still find fish as fresh as this. Freshness is often my worry in restaurants when I see fish on the menu. The second service was a trio of succulently seared scallops that were served with a delicious white bean puree and a lemon parsley crumble. The main course of the meal was a return to the halibut with a perfectly cooked piece of white fish served with grilled asparagus, baked fennel, a jwvala hot pepper vinaigrette and a celery root puree. The meal was absolute perfection. Finishing things off we were served a selection of desserts from Patrice desserts.
In many ways we should think of every day as Earth Day. Being conscious of what we add to and what we take from our planet is more important now than ever before. If we tip the scale too far into taking too much without thinking of the consequence it could be disastrous.