This past June's Grand Aïoli event at Alexandraplatz in Montreal, Quebec, was a labour of love that brought together the energies, talents, and vision of Natasha Pickowicz and Popcorn Youth with chef Michelle Marek, Theo Diamantis and the Oenopole crew. They were joined by a number of other local and regional producers and creators, like Caroline Boyce of Floralia and her extraordinarily beautiful flower arrangements, the Birri Brothers and their expert produce, bread from Kamouraska's famed Niemand Bakery, cheeses from Chèvrerie Buckland and Fromagerie Mouton Blanc, and Bernadette Houde and Team Alexandraplatz.
"Le Grand Aïoli" refers to roughly 15 different vegetables (including turnips, carrots, wild asparagus, new potatoes, cauliflower, beets, green beans, artichokes, and squash blossoms) prepared in a variety of ways (blanched, boiled, roasted, braised, sautéed, and au naturel), all of them served with a heaping quantity of freshly made aïoli.
Between the food, the wine, the ambiance, and the assembly of enthusiasts, something magical happened that evening. Somehow Montreal's natural joie de vivre merged with a sense of Provence's. One terroir (the one that produced our vegetables, flowers, cheeses, and breads) was united with another (the one that produced the wine). And the vehicle for this experiment in teleportation was as honest and elemental as they come.
Dinner summary from AJ Kinik, borrowed from An Endless Banquet
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01. Etienne Mar