Most people agree with the old cliche, good things come in threes, and last Wednesday at East Thirty Six was a culmination of exactly that; food, friends and fun. Kicking things off with the La Bonne Mère Martini, we congregated around East Thirty Six’s stylish bar with Wellington Street as a lively backdrop. East Thirty Six is a perfect perch for cocktails and dinner after work, and Executive Chef Brent Maxwell brought out all the stops creating a creative and inspired menu that was perfect for sharing; all the dishes featured one of Bonne Maman’s all-natural jams and preserves- no unpronounceable ingredients here!
Combining sweet with savoury can be a complex undertaking for any Chef but in Brent’s careful hands he came up with a stunning menu and every dish was enhanced by Bonne Maman’s juicy lineup of spreads and preserves. After the cocktails quickly evaporated we tucked into some of Kim Crawford’s wines to go with Brent’s shareable plates. First up, the crunchy Duck Croquettes with Red Currant Jam Cumberland Sauce. The sauce was a perfect addition to the rich duck, it brought balance to the overall dish- cutting through the richness and adding a pop of juicy red colour.
Chef Christine added her thoughts on growing up in Newfoundland, foraging for berries and making jams at home with the freshest ingredients. A Chef and a Mom, Christine honed in one an important ideal we both share, simplicity matters, especially when talking about food. Making jam when she was a child, and now an adult (look for her new cookbook out soon!), she understands that you get out what you put in, and Bonne Maman shares that sentiment- only the finest French produce is used to make their delectable spreads and preserves.
Chef Brent Maxwell then presented his next dish, the impressive Burrata with Kabocha Squash, brown butter and Dulce de Leche, which on it’s own is completely stunning, but here, he creates an immersive sensory experience by bringing a mammoth heated rock with pine and aromatic spices- talk about a centerpiece!
Burrata is easily one of my fave cheeses, so soft and amenable to anything you throw at it. Chef Brent explained that he usually prepares this dish with Butternut Squash in place of the Kabocha, and maple syrup instead of the Dulce de Leche, but mixing things up and substituting ingredients is the hallmark of a good cook- and with ingredients like these, it makes for pretty stellar results. I will definitely be copying this at my upcoming ‘invite the neighbours over and try to one up them from last time’ party.
The inner carnivore in me celebrated (maybe out loud, what gives?!) when the next course was presented- meaty Roasted Bone Marrow, with Chicken Liver and Chestnut Parfait and grilled bread for spreading. I dug right into this plate, but not before Chef Brent dealt out a generous shaving of truffles on top (I’m quite sure someone cheered ‘make it rain!’). The parfait was so light and airy, complemented by the earthy undertones of the chestnut spread. Another example of layering ingredients to create a dish that is both interesting and exciting.
Last and most certainly not least, the almost ‘too pretty to eat’ platter of Chocolate Delice, with Cherry Custard and Marcona Almond Crumble, an artful expression of everything sweet and a satisfying finish to a glorious meal.
Feeling inspired, at home I channeled the creative energy and combined a few of my favourite things, a crunchy Ace Bakery baguette, crispy bacon, tart green apple and sweet Bonne Maman Dulce de Leche. While certainly not as gourmet as Brent’s offerings, it’s fun to experiment with nontraditional methods when it comes to food!!
Thank you to East Thirty Six and Executive Chef Brent Maxwell for hosting!
All photos (except the sandwich) courtesy of Jeffery Chan on behalf of Bonne Maman.