Montreal Highlights Festival at Buonanotte with Chef Peter McAndrews

March 24, 2013 · 0 comments

in Restaurants

Each year, The Montreal Highlights Festival brings together locals and tourists where the attractions feature mostly arts and entertainment shows. For us foodies, the part I along with many others, pay the most attention to is of course the fine dining segment. Some of the best chefs from a specific country as well as another city, take over a restaurant to cook a fixed menu “highlighting” their unique cooking styles. This year, I was very excited to hear the featured country is Argentina and the other featured city is Philadelphia. The food is always fantastic, and it makes everyone feel exclusive since the meal being offered is one-of-a-kind, and will only be served in over one or two nights. As much as the Argentinian angle intrigued me, I chose to go with something a little more familiar, with a chef I’ve heard a few things about and at a restaurant that’s been in the news a little bit over the last month or so.

Chef Peter McAndrews was invited to cook at Buonanotte (yes, I received an “J’aime Pasta” t-shirt…ohhh Pastagate). From what I’ve read, and what I’ve seen of his food on this crazy place called the Internet, it seems like this chef is pretty popular. He owns Paesano’s, Modo Mio, Monsu, Popolino, and La Porta all in Philly, where they all specialize in good ol’ Italian food. He visited our table, and all the others in the dining room to chat with the customers and to see if they were enjoying the meal. The burly, friendly chef was as kind as can be, and he said the same for our city. Plus one for Montreal.

During the Highlights Festival, chef McAndrews prepared an eight-course menu all in the cicchetti style (small plates), similar to what some Montreal restaurants have been doing, namely Pastaga and le Bremner. I like this style since it allows customers to experience more food, in smaller quantities taking tastebuds on a wild ride. Also I realized this chef is very keen on showcasing contrasting textures. In a few dishes, a sprinkle of breadcrumbs, or chopped nuts enhanced the flavors in the dish and the star ingredient itself.

Rather than going through every dish, I’ll show them to you. Just take my word for it, everything was fantastic. The gnocchi below was not on the menu. It came in a very light tomato sauce, basil and smoked hazelnuts. The chef asked my dining companion and I whether or not we had room for gnocchi. He made some for the staff, there was some extra, so he made some for us. I replied, “there’s always room for gnocchi”.

Chicken liver crostini

Grilled octopus with crispy potatoes, sundried cherries, mushrooms, pickled long hot peppers, provolone guazzetto, aged balsamic

Pork belly meatball, seared dry scallop, maple sweet and sour smoked hazelnuts

Agnolotti Piemontese stuffed with fontina, black truffle butter

Smoked mackerel stuffed grape leaf, goat cheese, soft egg, horseradish and beet vinaigrette

Gnocchi, light tomato sauce, basil and smoked hazelnuts

Prosciutto wrapped veal cheek, chick pea polenta, orange mostarda, fried sage and walnuts

Warm chocolate espresso amaretto torte with salty caramel semifreddo, with a crème brûlée, sundried blueberry and candied ginger

Me and chef Peter McAndrews

*this meal was comped by the Montreal Highlights Festival

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