The Gallivanting Gourmand
Greg Duncan
Greg Duncan
is a freelance writer based in the Montreal region. He is particularly keen about good food. In his day job, Greg is the executive director of the Quebec Community Newspapers Association.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 10.11.07


How I ate Skippy or, simmered and well poached our Gallivanting Gourmand dines a la Down Under

I'm still feeling guilty about the other evening. You know, I'm always up for a new taste experience and am known to appreciate a good wine, especially when it's free. So, when I received an invite to a corporate wine tasting event at the Hilton I readily accepted with two conditions. \

The first was that I would not have to write about it commercially, and the second was that I could bring a guest (read wife). Actually, there was a third condition. No foie gras, puh-leeze!

Our RSVP was in order and we were to venture unknowingly to a culinary land where marsupials are in danger.

The Hilton Airport Hotel in Montreal has become a familiar establishment to us as we have wined and dined there on a number of occasions. Airport hotels are more known for their red-eye convenience than as gastronomic destinations, but this place has three restaurants that range from casual to elegant.

One has an exterior courtyard where you feel you are at an al fresco Italian piazza adorned with grape vines and lots of stonework. That is until a Boeing 777 en route to Paris passes just over your head within reaching distance.

This makes for a truly unique cinq à sept experience whereby you can ogle flight attendants of either sex lounging by the pool as an added bonus.

Cheers to you and your wonderful job, I say. Why do you look so tired, you party hounds, you?

We enjoyed an hour or so of sipping Aussie Pinot Noir in an Italian landscape outdoors and then were ushered to Au Coin du Feu to sample the wines and foods of Australia. Rosemount Estate wines in particular, with parings and matching over five courses.

A starter included a trio of a New Brunswick oysters on the half shell, a pan-fried scallop with a radish mango salsa, and a scallop under a buckwheat crust with a gingered carrot juice reduction. Excellent all, but no sign of the Aussie outback just yet.

The 2005 Chardonnay Diamond Label Rosemount Estate was a good match however. We cleansed our palates between bites by sprinkling Guerande fleur de sel on sliced Quebec apples. This was entirely new to us and will now become an added home best practice.

Next up was Macadamia crusted Barramundi on a sun-dried tomato risotto with parsley velouté and a Reserve Chardonnay 2004. The pairing of this marvelous Australian indigenous fish and crisp and citrusy wine was more than appropriate.

A quick Gitanes break followed as we snuck outside with a hilarious sommelier/food/beverage manager from Paris who works at Hiltons around the globe. He regaled with international tales of food and beverage nightmares.

Apparently an Amsterdam Hilton smells like hash and Gitanes and room service requests are very strange la bas. He complained that the chef and his kitchen team had screwed up his scallops and the fish course. We disagreed but then what do we really know about Barramundi?

Upon return to the table, a not so Australian dish of duck confit layered with wild mushrooms was matched with a 2003 Grenache Shiraz et Mourvedre. Piquant, the red vintage had notes of tabac (Gitanes perhaps) with flamed oak and cut right through and over the duck having been long poached in its own golden fat.

We listened intently to the various descriptions of the wines being served and despite this being mostly en Français, could not miss a clear reference to Kangaroo.

Soon enough, rare roasted kangaroo medallions were to be served.

Set atop a sweet potato and peanut mash and a traditional jus and wine reduction, was a nice serving of Skippy in all its glory!

In fear of disappointing my favorite food writer and Food Network star Anthony Bourdain, I resisted not. This, just so he might remain my Facebook friend for a little longer. Somewhat resembling deer, we noted that Skippy was meltingly tender. Lean to be sure, and not as gamy as one could imagine with no detection of grasses or cedar that often infuse the flesh of Cervidae.

A peppery, olive scented and oak infused 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot et Petit Verdot washed away any lingering wildness on the tongue and has now been added to our limited collection at home (two bottles to be drunk tonight).

We are not sure we would go out our way to eat kangaroo again, but suspect it will increasingly appear on menus in our time zone. The final tastings of the evening included a good Cockburn's special reserve Porto served with pastries, chocolate, and a number of excellent fromages Québécois.

Despite having eaten Skippy let's just say we weren't jumping at the end of the dinner. In fact, we waddled home more like two ducks, which is to say, we were simmered and poached quite nicely.