Monday, July 11, 2016

Frank at the AGO: Innovative Seasonal Cuisine

The Art Gallery of Ontario's award-winning restaurant Frank, is a distinctive Frank Gehry-designed space with casual chic décor with modern Danish furnishings and a contemporary installation of American painter Frank Stella. With a menu of global bistro cuisine and seasonal flavours featuring local seasonal fare and quality fresh ingredients, recently appointed Executive Chef Renée Bellefeuille created a special three-course prix fixe lunch and dinner menu embracing the city's popular Summerlicious food event which runs for two mouth-watering weeks this summer from July 1 to August 24th. The AGO is also currently hosting an exhibition of over 30 paintings by Group of Seven artist Lawren Harris entitled 'The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris', co-curated by comedian and art lover Steve Martin. Martin first encountered the paintings of Lawren Harris 25 years ago and it was love at first sight. But the actor-comedian-musician quickly discovered that he wasn't alone in his love for the founding Group of Seven member. "I thought I discovered him," Martin confessed "then I realized Canada knows all about him, so I felt a little foolish." That insight put Martin on a mission: to expose Americans to the iconic paintings of Harris. The result is the exhibit "The Idea of North," which he helped curate and orchestrate. The 30-painting exhibit has already had showings in Los Angeles and Boston and is currently in Toronto for a 10-week run — and it's absolutely marvelous.

The Summerlicious menu at Frank

A glass of chilled bubbly Prosecco

Screech-cured rainbow trout with preserved lemon, avocado, stinging nettle dust and grilled focaccia

100 km Greens with foraged pickles and maple granola with a squashberry vinaigrette

Lake Erie perch with zucchini carpaccio, preserved lemon, pickled chillies 
and cold pressed sea buckthorn oil

Ontario Gorgonzola with ice wine and balsamic reduction with macerated blackberries 
and walnut raisin toast

Buttermilk panna cotta with rhubarb gel and nut brittle

Steve Martin, co-curator of The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris show at the AGO


Frank Restaurant’s Spring Pea & Leek Tart
Serves 6

Pastry Dough:
1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup spelt or whole wheat flour
Pinch salt
4 oz cold unsalted butter
4 oz cold lard
1/2 cup ice water

1 cup chopped leeks
2 tbsp butter
Salt and pepper to taste
8 oz Canadian Gruyère cheese, grated
1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped in chiffonade
1/2 tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped
1 tbsp fresh chervil, chopped
1 tbsp fresh chives, chopped
1 cup fresh or frozen garden peas
8 oz smoked trout, flaked
2 cups 35% cream
Pinch freshly ground nutmeg
1 large whole egg
4 large egg yolks

Sift the flours and salt together fir the pastry dough. Using a box grater, grate the butter and lard into the flour and incorporate well with fingers until mixture resembles coarse oatmeal. Add ice water a little bit at a time mixing well, and adding just enough water to bring dough together. Form the dough into two flat discs, then wrap well and refrigerate 10-20 minutes. Roll one of the discs out into a 10-inch round, reserving the second disc for another use, wrapping and freezing it or chill. Line a 10-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom with the pastry and refrigerate 10-30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400°F. 

Meanwhile sweat the leeks in butter until tender and transparent, seasoning with salt and pepper, then set aside to cool. Cover the bottom of the tart shell with the grated cheese, then sprinkle evenly with with chopped herbs, followed by the leeks, peas and flaked trout. In a medium bowl, mix the cream, nutmeg, egg and yolks well with a whisk, then pour evenly over the other ingredients in the pie shell. Place the tart into preheated oven for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350°F and continue to bake for 30 minutes. The centre of the tart should be set, but still jiggly. Cool for 10-30 minutes before serving to allow custard to set. Cut and serve.

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