There are lots of ways to see the city and have a great night out on the town. Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of what Toronto has to offer in terms of food and entertainment. Very few of those adventures compare to the night I enjoyed a few weeks ago though when Courvoisier took me and my wife out with a group of bloggers to enjoy an “Unforgettable Experience”.
It all started with a trip in a sleek stretch limo to the intimate ICI Bistro at the corner of Harbord and Manning where chef J.P. Challet created a range of dishes for us featuring Courvoisier. As we stepped into the restaurant, a singer serenaded us and the staff brought out the first signature cocktail of the night, the Mistrelle, which was utterly delicious and was made with Courvoisier C, plus Orgeat syrup (a kind of French almond syrup), Ratafia, and pineapple juice.
This sweet, tangy drink was probably one of my favorite drinks of the night, and there was lots of competition. It also was a perfect segue into the rest of chef Challet’s beautiful menu for the night which included wild mushroom hors d’oeuvres, and a main course featuring lobster bisque made with Courvoisier VS, a steak tartare with a Courvoisier sauce, lamb chop featuring a Courvoisier VSOP sauce, and a stunning duck magret that came with churros and a sauce made with the exceptional Courvoisier XO.
To be honest, it was a very tough first course to top. The entire evening was stunning, but I still think fondly back on that meal, and the vibe at ICI Bistro.
While we were there, the group also took part in a remarkable tasting of Courvoisier’s collection from Courvoisier C, Courvoisier VS, and Courvoisier VSOP, to the favorite of many in the group, Courvoisier XO. We learned a lot about not only how Courvoisier is made, but also, what makes the liquor so unique. In the end, that comes down to the grapes, the aging process, and how they blend each eau-de-vie, or “water of life”, together to make the final blended cognac.
Moving back into the stretch limo, we were whisked away following the meal to The Grove on Dundas Street West near Ossington where we were treated to the next tasting menu in the restaurant’s cozy space.
Chef Ben Heaton came out to introduce his menu, which was once again made with the help of Courvoisier liquors. We enjoyed a creative chicken liver appetizer served with a very unique cognac soda bread, followed by a fresh take on Cassoulet made with guinea fowl.
My favorite surprise though was desert, which included cognac ice cream and Courvoisier wine gums on the side. To be honest, I never imagined anyone making wine gums, especially not with a liquor, but they were tremendous, especially with the very large snifter of Courvoisier we were served.
Finally, to cap off the night, we ended up at Geraldine at Queen Street West near Sorauren, which is a very charming space that I would recommend to anyone who wants to enjoy a fantastic cocktail. The bar looks like a speak easy from the 1920s, right down to the bar and the glasses they serve you from.
Thanks to Michael Mooney, the bar manager, we got a lesson in proper cocktail mixing, and all of the tricks to make a perfect drink, including a drink he invented called The Square of Pegasus. Watching Mooney work was like watching a famous chef in his kitchen. It was art. And while he made the whole process look somewhat easy, thanks to his explanations, I suspect actually making the complex drinks yourself would be much, much harder.
And, of course, the drinks were absolutely delicious, including the one that involved infusing chocolate into Courvoisier, and I still can’t get over the atmosphere of the space. Apparently they also have an exceptional seafood menu, but this stop was strictly for drinks, and it was a good thing considering how full we all were from the rest of the menu during the night.
The photos I took don’t even do the night justice. It was definitely an Unforgettable Experience filled with food and drinks that you just don’t get to enjoy very often. I can’t thank Courvoisier and their team enough for the opportunity to experience Toronto’s food culture just a little differently, and more extravagantly, for one night.
They even sent us home with a bottle to enjoy, which they challenged us to use creatively. For me, while I do enjoy making mixed drinks, I decided to go a different route and ended up using some of the cognac in my annual Christmas truffles, and let me just say that it might be my new favorite recipe for the chocolate treat. I’ve used a few different liquors over the years, but Courvoisier really goes beautifully with the rich chocolate treat.
If you want to enjoy your own Unforgettable Experience with Courvoisier, you can enter their promotion now for a dream $25,000 vacation package to indulge in their heart’s desires in one of three destinations around the world, including France, Fiji, and Africa. The contest runs until the end of the month, and you can earn an entry by picking up a bottle of Courvoisier VS or Courvoisier VSOP to get your pin access card. Head over to www.courvoisierexperience.com for more details and to enter the promotion!