I was invited to attend “The Flavour of Spring“, a 6-course Pop-up dinner prepared by Mielye Mitchell, currently the Chef de party at AnnaLena. The lovely Areta (@foodgressing) was the great company of the evening The dinner was hosted at Aphrodite’s Organic Cafe, where Mitchell used to helm the kitchen. And it’s great to see the eatery didn’t just provide the beautiful space but also offered the source of the fresh organic produce to the chef, so that he could incorporate incredibly fresh organic vegetables, fruits, and herbs from the local farms such as Glen Valley Organic Farm Co-Op, Sole Food Street Farms, and UBC Farms.
There are highlights of brilliance in the dinner, with techniques that I’d never seen, handling fresh ingredients with classic or innovative cooking methods to induce the optimal flavours. The plating was both rustic and refined showing the chef’s attention to details.
The prix-fix menu was priced at $80 per person, including wine pairing with a list of delicious BC wines, curated by the seasoned sommelier from Annalena.
Sourdough, Whipped Riccota, and Variations of Rhubarb
Wine-paring: Bella Method Ancestral Sparkling Rose
I like how he plays with the different textures of one ingredient, which is the rhubarb here. The combinations of flavours of rhubarb and riccota work nicely here. Although the portion could be a little smaller for amuse-bouche.
Lettuce, Yuzu Vinaigrette, Dashi Mayo, Puffed Grains
Grilled Asparagus, Hazelnut Crumble, Gougere, Asparagus Jus, Bearnaise
Wine Pairing: La Vieux Pin – Petit Blanc
The Lettuce salad features a variety of leafy lettuces with fresh garden herbs, topped with a sprinkle of little crispy puffed grains. The Dashi Mayo, inspired by Japanese cuisine, is bursting with UMAMI and it’s one of my favourite things of the evening. As I was loving the puffed grains, they really should be the salad crouton of 2018 and everyone should put them in their salad!
The Grilled Asparagus is lovely with asparagus freshly pulled out the field in the morning. A classic French bistro dish, with the nice texture contrast from the crumble and the rich flavour of the bearnaise sauce. It reminds me of the asparagus dish that I had at State Bird Provisions in San Francisco, a one-star Michelin restaurant the serves small tasty plates like this.
Pan Seared Trout, Seasonal Vegetables, Red Cabbage Puree, Herb Beurre Blanc
Wine pairing: Orofino Gamay
Although Trout is a great choice of fish in the Spring, I would probably have liked the dish even more if salmon or arctic char is used for a bit more richness. The star of the dish, valsartan over the counter however, is the red cabbage puree. It’s hard to imagine how a tough ball of fibery red leaves turns to this smooth and luscious texture, without adding cream or oil. Mitch told me that it took them hours to cook and break down the cabbage. It’s simply brilliant.
Short Rib, Market Vegetables, Ricotta Tortellini, Red Wine Jus, Potato Crumb.
Wine pairing: Daydreamer “Jasper” Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon
A more rustic approach, the Short Rib hit a home run with beautiful flavours and textures. The meat is cooked in sous vide for 24 hours, and it was texture perfect. I just adored the touch of lemon in the Ricotta Tortellini, something so small and simple, which elevates the entire dish. Without the tortellini, the dish is just a good meat and vegetable dish. But now, it’s an amazing dish that I would remember for a long time.
Honey Nut Panna Cotta, Buckwheat Honey Chiffon, Toasted Milk Jam, Milk Crumb, Buckwheat Honey Gel.
Paired with: JusTea chamomile cleanse
I would call this “The Affair of Milk and Honey” because it showcases various ideas of turning milk and honey into tasty little bits of goodness. To be honest, I was not super impressed when I see only the colours of white and caramel were on the plate. But the complexity of the textures and flavours is truly impressive – the light and fluffy chiffon cake, the firm but silky smooth pannacotta, and the jammy bits of milk and honey. What a treat!
What a fun and delectable evening that we just had! We finished the multi-course dinner at a relaxing pace. It was such a pleasure to witness the passion for cooking of a young talented chef through “The Flavour of Spring”. Areta and I recently visited one of the best Michelin restaurants in California, Saison, (also the most expensive one in California), and very few people know that Saison started as a pop-up restaurant. We are glad the Mitch is off to a great start, presenting his talents in such an awesome space and with such incredible local organic ingredients. And we will continue support all the aspiring young chefs like him and help their dreams come true.
Chef Meilye Mitchel is also available for private dinners and events. You can find him on Instagram. Their tentative date for the next pop-up dinner is Thursday, June 7th, but please follow Aphrodite’s Cafe & Pie Shop for the upcoming events.