Power Pairing

What hap­pens when a top Toronto chef and a top On­tario wine­maker team up? We hosted an ex­clu­sive din­ner to find out

Toronto Life - - This City - For more pic­tures from the evening visit: toron­to­life.com/la-banane-din­ner

Bran­don Olsen is the soft-spo­ken chef be­hind La Banane, a re­fined yet ram­bunc­tious din­ing room that serves clas­si­cal French dishes with a de­cid­edly mod­ernist bent. Nor­man Hardie is the gre­gar­i­ous wine­maker who has be­come the most rec­og­niz­able name in wine-crazed Prince Ed­ward County. They’re both inim­itable tal­ents. Wouldn’t it be cool if they planned a spe­cial one-night-only din­ner?

That’s ex­actly what they did in Novem­ber, with a lit­tle help from Toronto Life and Drink Toronto. Olsen and Hardie col­lab­o­rated on a con­tem­po­rary French menu that fea­tured six cour­ses paired with some of Hardie’s best hand­i­work, in­clud­ing his VQA chardon­nay and pinot noir, and Cu­vée Dis­cotheque 2016, an all-Ni­a­gara ries­ling cus­tom-bot­tled for the hip Oss­ing­ton restau­rant.

Olsen’s got a knack for Gal­lic cui­sine’s great­est hits, which meant se­ri­ously jacked frog’s legs, su­per­nat­u­rally fluffy omelette bites topped with caviar, a bold bouil­l­abaisse rip­pling with Spring Is­land mus­sels, thor­oughly im­mod­est bricks of foie gras and a savoury duck pithivier wrapped in a bur­nished pas­try crust. No meal at La Banane can prop­erly end with­out one of Olsen’s iconic Ziggy Star­dust Disco Eggs, a tie-dyed dark-choco­late ovoid shell that’s cracked open with a golden spoon to re­veal a clutch of choco­late truf­fles. Olsen moon­lights as a cho­co­latier, run­ning Kens­ing­ton Mar­ket’s CXBO, which is one of the all-time great side hus­tles. Hardie runs a side hus­tle of his own, bak­ing piz­zas in the sum­mer months in a wood-burn­ing oven at his win­ery. Based on the suc­cess of this one-off din­ner, one can only hope that an Olsen-Hardie pizza-choco­late se­quel is in the cards.

HEAD BAR­TENDER CHRISTO­PHER WEAVER

DUCK PITHIVIER WITH SUL­TANA RAISINS

NOR­MAN HARDIE AND BRAN­DON OLSEN

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