Monday, May 8, 2017

Langdon Hall: A Weekend Lunch at Wilks' Bar

Originally built as a Federal Revival mansion by the famous New York Astor family at the turn of the 20th-century, the property still exudes the air of an old Ontario estate, but few people are aware of the international connections in Langdon Hall’s hundred-year history. Built by the son of an English man who inherited American wealth, the grand home was intended as a summertime contrast to life in New York, London and a château in the Loire valley. From the outset, when the mansion was finally sold in 1982 with about thirty surrounding acres, the transformation of Langdon Hall from a private residence into a luxury country house hotel embraced the British tradition. To compliment the English ambience that is alive inside Langdon Hall, much has been done to renovate the grounds and gardens to their original Victorian magnificence, as envisaged by its owners architect William Bennett and Mary Beaton

Considered to be one of the top hotels in Canada, I've been escaping to Langdon Hall for over 20 years 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 Langdon Hall's exceptional cuisine by the superbly talented Jason Bangerter — one of my favourite chefs in Canada. In addition to Langdon Hall's main dining room, one can also dine at Wilks' Bar. Offering lighter lunches and dinners in a cozy club-like atmosphere, the bar has a welcoming wood burning fireplace, a collection of comfortable leather chairs and period photos of Langdon Hall’s original founding family. Elegant and refined, taking the time for a weekend lunch at Wilks' is one of life's more delicious pleasures.  

The exceptional Chef Jason Bangerter

The Wilks Bar lunch menu

A miniature violet in full bloom accented each table 

The elegant clubby interior of Wilks' Bar at Langdon Hall

2015 Romanelli Grechetto dei Colli Martani from Umbria is available by the glass

With a rich straw colour, Grechetto is regarded as one of the finest white wine grapes in Umbria

Fresh in-house churned butter with Maldon salt

Fresh baked bread by Pastry Chef Rachel Nicholson

Silky smooth Stinging Nettle and Potato Soup with Potato Cream, Smoked Potato Skin and Lovage

Smoked Bacon and Romaine Salad with Marinated Grains, Green Goddess, Pickled Shallot 
and White Anchovy

Fish and Chips with Pommes Pont Neuf, Lemon Aioli and Pea Vines


Royal Truffle Soup with Truffle Foam and Parmesan Shortbread
Serves 6
Recipe courtesy of Chef Jason Bangerter

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, diced
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Salt and pepper

2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup sliced white onion
1 cup sliced leek, white part only
1/2 cup sliced, peeled celery
6 cloves garlic, crushed
6 sprigs fresh time, leaves only
5 cups sliced Portobello mushroom
1 cup Madeira, fortified wine
4 cups vegetable stock
4 tbsp cold unsalted butter, diced
3 tbsp truffle oil

Truffle cream:
1 cup whipping cream
1 tsp truffle oil
Minced chives

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, butter, cheese, salt and pepper to taste. Mix with your fingers until combined and the dough can be compressed into a ball without falling apart. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes. Transfer to a floured work surface and roll out with a floured rolling pin until the dough is 1/4 inch thick. Using a cookie cutter, make rounds and then transfer to a parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake at 360°F for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

For the soup, in a medium size stock pot over medium-low heat, combine olive oil, onion, leek, celery, garlic and thyme. Cook until vegetables have softened, about 8 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook until they release their juices. Reduce until most liquid is gone, about 15 minutes. Add the Madeira, increase heat to medium and deglaze until two-thirds of wine has evaporated. Add the stock, reduce the heat to medium low and reduce the stock until one-third of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat and let cool only slightly. 

While still hot but not boiling, transfer in batches to a blender. Blend on lowest speed. Add butter and truffle oil alternately until mushroom mixture is puréed then pass the soup through a mesh strainer. If the purée is too thick add more stock or water. Salt and pepper to taste. 

For the truffle cream, in a medium size bowl, whip the cream with a hand beater until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the truffle oil and minced chives. To serve, add a dollop of truffle cream to each portion of soup with the savoury shortbread on the side.

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