A Collaborative Gem: Tojo 4 Dinner at River Cafe

  When I walked into Calgary’s River Café last week for Tojo 4 – a collaborative dinner featuring famed Vancouver Chef Hidekazu Tojo and River Café’s Andrew Winfield – I was delighted. The interior of the always-stunning restaurant was the epitome of spring; decorated with cherry blossoms, the crisp early-season white light of late afternoon filtering through the windows. Outside, canola-hued daffodils peeked out from underneath stubborn flakes of snow.

River Cafe Tojo 4 Dinner We were greeted with glasses of Granville Island Osake Junmai Sparkling Sake {a refreshing twist on the Japanese drink}, and offered Wild Salmon Croquettes {what a treat} and freshly shucked East and West Coast Oysters.

The event, one of a series of collaborative dinners planned for the restaurant over the next few months, was a brilliant showcase of two cuisines – a fusion of the best ingredients Alberta has to offer {wild boar tenderloin, anyone?} and west coast gems prepared with an unmistakable Japanese flair.

River Cafe Tojo 4 Dinner The evening was led by the oh, so charming Nathan Fong {a globe-trotting, Vancouver-based food writer and chef}, who guided us through each course and pairing with clever little anecdotes and humour.

Now, for the food… take a peek at the menu, the pairings, and the dishes of the evening, below.

River Café Tojo Dinner “Kaiseki” A Japanese culinary art form that balances the taste, texture, appearance, and colours of local, seasonal food.

River Cafe Tojo 4 Dinner Reception Wild Salmon Croquette, East & West Coast Oysters on the Half Shell {Fire River & Lambertini} Paired with Granville Island Osake Junmai Sparkling Sake

River Cafe Tojo 4 Dinner First Course Tojo’s Special Tuna: BC Albacore Tuna, Soy, Sesame Tojo Roll: Tempura Sustainable Prawn, Avocado, Pineapple Cherry Blossom Sushi with Salmon, Pickled Wild Sockeye, Preserved Cherry Blossom & Leaves Paired With Granville Island Osake Junmai Nama

River Cafe Tojo 4 Dinner Second Course Bite Ranch Beef Heart Tartare & Tongue Pastrami, Smoked Walnut, Sunchoke, Preserved Ramp, Birch Syrup & Mustard Sabayon, Sea Asparagus Paired with 2011 Pinot Blanc Blue Mountain Vineyard Okanagan Falls

River Cafe Tojo 4 Dinner Third Course Wild Pacific Halibut Cheeks, Masago Rice Cracker Crust, Abalone Mushroom, Vegetable “Fettucine”, Tempura-Crusted Surimi Shishito Pepper Paired with Granville Island Osake Junmai Nama Genshu

River Cafe Tojo 4 Dinner Fourth Course Hog Wild Boar Tenderloin & Prosciutto, Lacinato Kale, Celeriac, Apple Cider Reduction, Honeycrisp Apple, Juniper Jus, Black Radish Paired with 2011 Riesling Schloss Reinhartshausen “Classic” Rheingau

River Cafe Tojo 4 Dinner Fifth Course Smoked Wild Pacific Sablefish Ho-sho Yaki, Matsutake Mushroom, Gobo, Asparagus, Mango Paired with Granville Island Oksake Junmai Nama Genshu

River Cafe Tojo 4 Dinner Sixth Course Wood Grilled Bison Striploin, Huckleberry Jus, Potato Emulsion, Confit Rutabaga, Fiddleheads, Stinging Nettle Emulsion Paired with 2006 Grenache, Cabernet & Syrah “Finca El Puig” Priorat

River Cafe Tojo 4 DinnerRiver Cafe Tojo 4 Dinner Dessert Hazelnut Frangipane Cake, Rhubarb Sorbet, Mountain Tea Caramel, White Chocolate Pavlova Paired with Sea Flora Wild Sea Garden Tea

May 29th, 2013 marks the Ocean Wise collaborative dinner at River Café, and in addition to Chef Andrew Winfield, guest chefs include Robert Clark, Paul Rogalski, and Geoff Rogers. Tickets are $160, and $50 from each ticket goes directly to Ocean Wise. Get more information on the events at River Café here.