Thursday, September 3, 2015

Langdon Hall: A 13th Anniversary Weekend in Style

Among life's most sublime pleasures, a weekend away at Langdon Hall must be at the top of the list. Originally built as a Federal Revival mansion by the famous New York Astor family at the turn of the 20th-century, this Relais & Châteaux property is considered to be one of the top hotels in Canada. Just an hours drive from Toronto, I've been escaping to Langdon Hall since the early 90's and have spent many memorable weekends there with both friends and family, blissfully enjoying their spectacular spa, playing croquet on the crisp manicured lawns, relaxing in the tranquil secluded outdoor pool, exploring the impressive chef's kitchen garden, and of course indulging in the exceptional award-wining cuisine of the superbly talented Jason Bangerter — undeniably one of my favourite Canadian chefs. So with a 13th wedding anniversary to be celebrated in style, my husband and I escaped to Langdon Hall for two glorious days of decadent pleasures — lounging by the pool, reading books, and spa treatments by day, followed by billiards and martinis at cocktail hour and culminating with Chef Bangerter's sumptuous cuisine in Langdon's elegant dining room at twilght. With two glasses of champagne to launch our anniversary dinner, the evening was outstanding from the amuse-bouche to the special pâtisserie that were presented with a chocolate scrolled 'Happy Anniversary.' Heaven.

Langdon Hall dinner menu

Beautiful plump sweet roses

Taittinger Brut Champagne

Zymè di Celestino Gaspari Il Bianco 'From Black to White' 2013

2013 Cara Nord Conca de Barberà Negre 

Amuse-Bouche: Citrus and Grapefruit Gelée with Mint

Dressed Lobster with Bronze Fennel, Marigold, Grapefruit and Clay Pepper

White Asparagus with Duck Egg, Chive, Hazelnut and Caper Gribiche

Sablefish with Langdon Hall Pole Beans and Tomatoes with a Lemon Grass Lobster Cream

Venison with Swiss Chard, Summer Squash and Spiced Chocolate Sauce

A silver domed Cheese Trolley with assortment of local and international cheeses

Assiette de Fromage: (L to R) Warm Marcona almonds, Shropshire cheese, Stewed Fruit, Selles sur Cher goat cheese, Fried Croutons, Epoisses, and Bucheron goat cheese with pitcher of Truffle Honey

Glass of Tawny Port

A lovely finishing touch to a wonderful evening

Trout Salad With Buttermilk-Crème Fraiche Dressing
Serves 4 as entrée
Recipe courtesy Chef Bangerter

Chef Bangerter poaches the fish and serves it in bite-size portions nestled in Bibb lettuce leaves with fresh peas and radishes on a pool of dressing, but it can also be served as appetizer or entrée portions.

Poached Trout:
8 cups water
1 cup white wine
1/4 cup kosher salt
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 carrot, peeled, chopped
1 lemon, washed, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh thyme
Several stems dill, tarragon and/or flat-leaf parsley 
1 tsp black peppercorns, crushed
1 lb skin-on rainbow trout fillets, about 2

Buttermilk-Crème Fraiche Dressing:
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup crème fraiche
1 tsp finely chopped dill
Kosher salt + freshly ground black pepper to taste
Fresh lemon juice to taste

1 cup fresh peas in season, or frozen peas
1 head Boston or Bibb lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
2 baby radishes, very thinly sliced 
Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a large pot, combine water, wine, salt, onion, celery, carrot, lemon slices, bay leaf, thyme, herb stems and peppercorns, and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat, cover and let stand 10 minutes. Then strain, discarding the solids, and return the liquid to the pot. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Place the trout in a glass baking dish in one layer. Pour the poaching liquid over the fish to cover and fill dish. Quickly cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap, and let stand until poached to desired doneness, about 10 to 15 minutes. Discard the poaching liquid and fish skin. Gently flake the fish with a fork and set aside.

For the dressing, in small bowl, whisk the buttermilk and crème fraiche until smooth. Add the dill, then season with salt, pepper and lemon, and whisk until smooth. Refrigerate, covered, if making ahead.

For the salad, bring small pot of water to boil over high heat. Add the peas, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 2 minutes. Drain and transfer to a bowl of ice water to stop the peas cooking. Once cool, drain and set aside. To serve, divide the lettuce among 4 plates or bowls. Divide the trout, peas and radishes evenly over each, then drizzle with Buttermilk-Crème Fraiche dressing. Sprinkle each with Maldon sea salt and pepper.