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Artful Cuisine

Original Article by Jennie Nunn for Organic Spa Magazine  

At the Wickaninnish Inn, Chef Warren Barr creates inspired, healthy dishes that may take time to prepare, but are well worth  it.

The Ancient Cedars Spa at the lauded Wickaninnish Inn (locals call it “The Wick”) in Tofino, a tiny surf town on the west coast of Vancouver Island, is a coveted spot for rest and relaxation. The cozy, nature-inspired spa, appointed with stone and wood accents, features an outdoor area overlooking the Pacific Ocean with Adirondack-style chairs and wooden foot spas for pre-treatment foot soaks. Guests can also book one of two new 30-minute hydrotherapy treatments for relaxation and revitalization using a high-tech Spa Jet 2G (only the second spa in Canada with this capsule-like tub), with steam, infrared heat and Vichy shower heads.

For an amazing post-treatment lunch, head to the property’s acclaimed on-site restaurant, The Pointe, with panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. Executive Chef Warren Barr serves unique and incredibly delicious dishes made with locally sourced ingredients such as the Manitoba Salad with Wild Rice; Spring Salmon, Sorrel, Charred Leek; Presented Beets and Shallots; Humboldt Squid; and West Coast Clam Chowder with Hand- Peeled Shrimp, Local Fish, Corn and Bacon. Dinner items include an otherworldly Almond-Crusted Tofino Lingcod with Potato and Celeriac Ragout and Basil.

Spot Prawn Escabeche

20 spot prawns, shelled

8 ounces olive oil

5 ounces lime juice

2 ounces shallot, minced

2 red chili, seeded and minced

Salt

To make the escabeche, combine the oil, lime juice, shallot and chili in a bowl. Season the spot prawns and place in a vac-bag with the escabeche liquid. Cook in a water bath set at 45 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes. Shock in an ice bath.

Lemongrass Powder

5 pounds lemongrass, bottoms only, smashed and sliced

2 cups canola oil

1/3 cup lemongrass oil

2 tablespoons tapioca maltodextrin

Sweat the lemongrass in half the oil over medium heat for 20 minutes. Cover with the rest of the oil and continue to cook at a low temperature with a lid for 2 more hours. Using a hand blender, mulch up the lemongrass in the oil. Transfer to a container, cover with cling film and keep in the fridge overnight. Reheat and strain through a coffee filter.

Using a whisk, stir some of the oil into the tapioca until a light and flavorful powder forms.

Crushed Peas

1lb fresh peas, blanched

1bunch mint, picked

Lemongrass oil

Salt and pepper

In a food processor, pulse the blanched peas until they are well mulched but still chunky. Add the mint and season with the lemongrass oil, salt and pepper.

Garnishes

2 ounces Valrhona Ivoire chocolate, in the freezer

A few blanched peas

Sprigs of mint

Pea tips

Edible flowers, such as begonia and/or marigold

Lime, juiced

Use a ring mold to shape four pucks of crushed peas on four plates. Remove the prawns from the bag and drain on paper towel. Arrange five prawns on each plate in a way that looks like prawns are spilling off of the pea. Dress the blanched peas with some lime juice and salt and sprinkle on each plate. Crush the frozen white chocolate and scatter on the plates. Dust each plate with some lemongrass powder and garnish with the mint, pea tips and flowers.

FEATHER GEORGE COCKTAIL

Feather George is our resident carver, who hand-planes our cedar curls per batch. He is known for his elaborate and detailed feather carvings.

1.5 ounces Wiser’s Rye Whisky double infused with Cedar

0.75 ounces Italian Vermouth

0.25 ounces Giffard Abricot de Roussilon

2 dashes Gary Regan’s Orange Bitters

Fidencio Mezcal rinse

Cedar smoked ice

CEDAR RYE WHISKEY RECIPE

Fill a large glass jar with fresh cedar curls. Add a teaspoon of salt and fill ¾ with cold water. Shake vigorously and let sit for 5 minutes. Strain and rinse with fresh water. Allow to dry for a few hours. This cleans the cedar and reduces any bitter edge. Add 1 bottle Wiser’s Rye Whiskey.

Let sit for 4 days agitating jar often to shift settling cedar. Strain and press cedar to remove every drop. Repeat Steps 1-3 with the same Rye Whiskey. This process is to intensify flavors and add body. Re-bottle and serve: Stir and strain into Fidencio Mezcal rinsed short rocks glass filled with Cedar Smoked Ice Garnish, a long curl of cedar and long curl of orange rind intertwined as you wish.

CEDAR SMOKED ICE

Designate equipment specific to this process as they will absorb the cedar smoke smell and taste. Add deep metal pan full of regular ice into a smoker with ¾ cedar and ¼ alderwood burning. Smoke until ice melts back to water. Run water through a coffee filter to remove any skim, then run water through a water filter such as a Brita. Freeze into ice cube shapes of your choice. The effect will come more from the nose than the taste.

Spring Salmon, Sorrel, Charred Leek

Serves 4

Salmon

1.5 pound spring salmon fillet, skin on, pin bones removed

pinch of salt

2 cups canola oil

Remove the skin from the salmon, do not remove the scales, and reserve. Dust the salmon on both sides with the salt and keep in the fridge.

Use a knife to scrape any excess flesh from the skin. Spread the skin on a silpat (nonstick baking sheet), cover with another silpat, then bake at 175 degrees Fahrenheit for 3 to 4 hours or until dry. Leave out to further dry overnight.

Heat the oil in a small pot to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Break the salmon skin into small pieces and fry until slightly puffed and crisp. Drain on paper towel, season and reserve in an airtight container.

Sorrel Juice

1 ½ ounces sorrel

½ cup apple juice

½ cup ice water

1/3 cup canola oil

3 sprigs parsley, leaves picked

1 pinch xanthan gum

Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Pass through a fine strainer and check seasoning.

Charred leek

2 leeks, whites only

Salt

Remove the outer layer from the leeks and brush away any dirt. On a very hot plancha (griddle), char one side of the leeks. Place in the fridge to cool, then transfer to a vac-bag with some salt and seal on maximum vacuum. Steam for 6 minutes and refresh in an ice bath. Remove the leeks from the bag and cut into 1-inch pieces and keep in the fridge.

Pickled Apple

2 Granny Smith apples

¾ cup white wine vinegar

1/3 cup white wine

1 cup water

1 1/3 ounce honey

Salt to taste

Bring the white wine vinegar, white wine, water, honey and salt to a boil. Cool in the fridge. Cut the sides off the apples, leaving box shaped cores. Use a small ring cutter to cut 16 nice barrels from the apple pieces. Place the pickler and the apples in a vac-bag and compress.

Garnishes

½ cup crème fraiche

12 baby turnips, washed, trimmed and blanched

12 sprigs chervil

12 leaves of sheep sorrel

12 thin slices of baby turnip

To Finish

2 ½ tablespoons butter

1/3 cup water

Juice of half a lemon

¼ cup canola oil

1 1/3 tablespoon butter

1/3 cup water

Remove the salmon from the fridge, cut into 8 even pieces and let it come to room temperature. Place 2 large pans on the stove and turn onto high heat. Season each piece of salmon and add the canola oil to the pans. Place the salmon “skin” side up into the pan and reduce to medium heat. Once the salmon gets a little color on it, flip it and add the water, lemon juice and 40g of butter. Remove the pan from the heat and baste the salmon until a cake tester passes through with no resistance.

While the salmon is cooking, place another pan on the stove and add 100ml water. Once it boils, add the leeks, turnips and butter. Glaze and season the vegetables, adding the pickled apples at the last moment.

On four plates, make large swirls of crème fraiche. Drizzle some of the sorrel juice over the crème fraiche. Following the line of the swirls place 2 pieces of salmon on each plate then distribute the vegetables evenly, once again following the swirls on the plates. The dish should be arranged in a ring. Dress the shaved turnip with some lemon and garnish each plate with 3 pieces along with the chervil and sheep sorrel. Finish with pieces of the fried salmon skin.

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