Why is Cory Vitiello, chef of the Harbord Room, joyously tossing peppers in the air? My guess is that he’s so happy with the induction range he’s cooking on. Even a humble home chef like me can appreciate the benefits of induction – it’s super responsive, keeps the kitchen cool, is easy to clean and allows for very precise temperature control. Vitiello recently showed me around a Thermador induction range at the Summerhill LCBO kitchen. (True, freelance writing doesn’t have a huge number of benefits, but there are occasional treats, such as having a handsome young man make lunch for me, without expecting me to do the dishes afterwards.) We had a great chat, discovering that we share very lukewarm feelings toward Chardonnay and both love to cook with cheap cuts of meat! Vitiello will be teaching classes at the site on May 19 and 27, incorporating ingredients thought to be aphrodisiacs (it could get REALLY hot in there, induction notwithstanding,) and innovative spice pairings. You have to win a seat in a Thermador-sponsored contest to attend. Click here to go to the site to enter. If you don’t win, you can still make one of his fabulous recipes, which I’ve included below.
BTW, when Chef Cory and I were chatting (such a nice young man), he happened to mention his pal Anton Potvin, whom he described as having a “ridiculously good palate”. That was enough to send me to the site of the Niagara Street Cafe, where Potvin reigns. The menu looks terrific, and I was seriously tempted by the notion of wild mushrooms on toast, smoked cheddar, pickled honey mushrooms, and mustard horseradish cream. Mushrooms are one of may fave foods. As long as they don’t suggest a glass of Chardonnay to go with it.
Vitiello’s Spice Crusted Sashimi Grade Tuna with Mussels, Saffron, Kaffir lime leaf, Thai Basil, Bird's Eye Chili, Cilantro and Smoked Sea Salt
- 4.5 oz pieces of center cut sashimi grade tuna
- 2 tablespoons toasted and freshly ground fennel seed, cumin and coriander seed
Lightly toast the spices until they give off their scent. Grind in a coffee grinder or blender. Roll tuna in the mixture until it is lightly coated. In a hot pan sear the tuna on all sides for 2 minutes total, leaving the centre very rare.
- 1 lb fresh mussels
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 finely diced bird’s eye chili, seeds removed
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
- 1 large shallot, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- Pinch of saffron
- Juice of 2 limes
- 1 carrot, julienned
- 1 small leek, julienned
- 2 pieces baby bok choy, finely sliced
- 2 tablespoons cold butter
- 2 kafir lime leaves, bruised
- 1 piece lemon grass, bruised and cut into two-inch pieces
- Small handful of torn fresh cilantro
- Small handful of torn basil leaves
- 2 teaspoons salt
Assembly: In large shallow bowl spoon equal amounts of the mussel/sauce/vegetable mixture. Slice the tuna down the center and present it cut side up. Lightly season the cut side of the tuna.