Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Nectar, Calgary

Nectar, Calgary
Originally uploaded by Suzi Edwards
Oh dessert. How much I love you.

Of course I’m showing my non-u roots there. Dessert, in the UK, is one of those shibboleths that give away your class origin. You’re supposed to say pudding, unless it contains fruit, when you could, quite correctly, call it dessert. Especially if you’re dining with a pedant.

Either way, I always used to say I didn’t like desert. I was lying. I *heart* dessert, pudding and afters and I don’t care what you call it, as long as it’s delicious.

Dessert was the whole point of last night’s venture out to Inglewood. We picked a “tapas” place to begin, reasoning that we really all just wanted to go to Nectar, but felt that we ought to have something savory first. We should have skipped dinner at Village Cantina because it wasn’t great. But I am feeling nice, so I shall spare you the critique.

Let’s celebrate the good, right?

Nectar’s philosophy is simple:

“Dessert is special. Unlike regular foods, we use it to treat ourselves, celebrate important occasions, to thank, and to reward. Children beg for it, grown-ups sneak it. Nectar Desserts makes sure that each and every piece we make is a special event itself, from first sight, to last bite!”

Housed upstairs from a couple of chi-chi stores, the room is all hard-wood converted loft chic. They have some nice over-stuffed sofas, lots of cute mirrors on the walls, dim lighting and a glass cabinet full of gorgeousness that made me drool. Mental note, perfect date place. Should I have the chocolate and salted caramel tarte? Or the blackberry and passionfruit one? Perhaps a tasting plate of five different flavoured macaroons? A posh s’more? Actually, that one nearly won until an American friend pointed out that it’s illegal for my first ever s’more to be in an up-scale dessert bar and we need a fire pit to induct me into the world of s’mores.

I’ve been learning a lot about s’mores recently. I saw a post on Mike Czyzewski's blog entitled the Omnivore’s Hundred. It’s a list of 100 things you could/should/ought to eat. I’ve had about 85 of them (missing out on things like fugu, durian, fondue (!) the Big Mac, a root beer float, a Hostess Fruit Pie and the aforementioned s’mores). A lot of the ones I’ve missed out on are North American and I even had to go and look up s’mores. Hadn’t even heard of them, but then I realized that this is because I am allergic to camping and grew up in the UK. Turns out there’s an Alberta connection to the s’more though. Add some peanut butter and you have the Banff Blast. God, isn’t Wikipedia amazing?

Back to Nectar. I ended up choosing the salted caramel tarte. It’s the benchmark patisserie item for me, a modern day classic, and I already knew that Nectar was going to have to suck really, really, really hard for me not to be back. So I’d start with the basics. And a macaroon chaser. And a glass of Bonny Doon “framboise” which was the perfect partner. Sometimes I think I might be quite good at this food lark.

The tarte was good. Not perfect, amazing or likely to give Pierre Herme any sleepless nights, but they’d used Valrhona Guanaja, one of my favourites, a 70% bitter chocolate from South America and did a good job with the chocolate pastry crust. The macaroon was less amazing, but I am not sure that Calgary, a place I swear is drier than the Lut Desert, is the best place to be making and selling macaroons. That’s not going to stop me trying them again though.

Other lovely touches included some exceptional canelles and a wide range of take-home sorbets and ice-creams that don’t have any nasty preservatives or fillers. My ingredients list for the cherry sorbet says “sweet cherries, sugar”. Good to see and makes me miss my ice-cream maker less.

Any bum notes? A couple. They don’t take reservations and don’t accommodate tables of more than six. So they weren’t very pleased when nine of us turned up. We split into two tables, but were told “it’s quiet tonight so you can stay.”

Can you imagine walking into a clothes store and being told “we hate the way you look but sales are down this month, so come on in, fatty?” I still don’t understand why restaurants (or in this case, a dessert bar) can get the basics of customer service wrong. Luckily most of the rest of the service was sweet, kind, enthusiastic and knowledgeable, and we did break their rules, so I shall forgive them. And go back next week.

Nectar Dessert Bar
is upstairs at 1216 9th Ave SE

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Anonymous are you gonna eat that? said...

I had my first smore at age 29. And I grew up here!

2:24 AM  

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