Though Vancouver has fallen to third on The Economist’s recently published list of most liveable cities in the world, our beautiful Canadian nook still holds the blue ribbon in the eyes of at least one international heavy-hitter.“Vancouver was one of my goals,” chef Massimo Bottura revealed as we sat chatting at UVA wine bar.
Just a few hours before he and his Italian cooks would concoct a $500-a-head, seven course dinner at top Italian eatery, Cibo Trattoria, he gushed about why he’s always wanted to visit our city, “It’s different from the usual. There are so many things that I really want to see. And when I realized Cibo was awarded best new restaurant in Canada, I immediately said ‘yes, I’m coming’.”
Bottura — named ‘best chef in the world’ by the International Academy of Gastronomy — is the owner and patron chef of Modena’s world renowned Osteria Francescana. He was invited to Cibo by the downtown restaurant’s general manager David Fert.
Award-winning Cibo chef, Neil Taylor, described the guest cuisine as opposite to his own traditional (delicious) fare, “It was all very clean tasting and well-balanced — very well thought through food.”
Indeed, the courses were intellectually stimulating. The Globe and Mail’s Alexandra Gill described it best when she compared the meal to haute couture. As many of us are wowed by the wild styles showcased on fashion runways, we don’t wear them regularly. The Bottura experience was like nothing I’ve had before and I doubt I’ll ever again have anything quite like it.
In my interview with each, I learned that Taylor and Bottura’s cooking styles are as dissimilar as their preferences. Read on to discover just how opposite the two are.
Q: Will you show us your ‘to die for face’? (This is the expression occurring at the taste of ‘to die
for food’ – you know the one!)
A: See _____
Q: Name the food you would most often describe as, ‘to die for’.
A: MB — Very, very small tortellini made by my mom. It’s called ‘The Little Finger’ because you roll the pasta around your this finger, then you fill it with the most incredible Parmigiano and ham. When you eat it, you fly away.
NT – Good cheese, like a buffalo mozzarella or a nice Burrata, when it’s at its best. I’d eat this with a nice olive oil and bread. Figs or cherry tomatoes would be great, too.
Q: What is your favorite restaurant other than your own?
A: MB — I love places where the food has a different perspective — it has warmth and it touches your heart. I’ve had so many different meals here in Vancouver and I just can’t pick a favorite. There were so many and they were all so good.
Q: What is your trashy indulgence? (i.e. that late night 7/11 or drive-thru treat)
A: MB — [After much pondering...] Magnum Ice Cream Bars because they remind me of my croquantino with foie gras. Inside, there is balsamic vinegar. On the outside, there are toasted hazelnuts from Piemonte. It’s been called one of the dishes that could change modern cuisine.
NT — Pizza from one of those kind of crappy places. The best one on Granville Street is Uno.
Q: Is there a food you refuse to eat because you were sick after eating it?
A: MB – There’s nothing I refuse to eat…even insects, which I tried in Thailand. I’ve eaten lots of extreme food.
NT — Grape juice. When I was young, I drank a ton of it in one go and felt gross afterwards. I have a very weird feeling about it now. I don’t think I’ve ever tried it again.
Q: What is the sexiest food?
A: MB – Chocolate. You can be so wild and mix it with animals. There are these medieval recipes mixing chocolate with wild boar or herring. I also enjoy foie gras with chocolate. On the other hand, chocolate can be very sweet and comforting; depends on how you use it.
NT — Black truffles done very simply with taglierini in a very small pot of noodles. They’re also nice with raw veal, like a tartar.
Q: What is your favorite dessert?
A: MB – Something with chocolate or cherries from Modena. I grew up with cherries — they open my mind and take me back to the past. And chocolate because it’s just so cool.
NT — Can I say cheese? For something sweet, I’d have lemon tart or ice cream. I’ve tried Thierry’s lemon tart and it’s very nice.
Q: What is your favorite comfort food?
A: MB — Snacks. Could be a piece of fresh Parmigiano with a drop of my balsamic vinegar. I eat this in the night, in the morning, and in the middle of the afternoon because it satisfies my palate and my mind.
NT — Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. Very English. We’d have that every other Sunday when I was growing up.