Ouch! Okay, not me, but head to Bite Groceteria in Calgary to keep warm this winter. To stave off our pending cabin-fever insanity, Jeff and I went to check out Bite. I heard they have truffles, and nothing makes comfort food more comforting than truffles.
The shop feels like it could be in SoHo, or NYC's West Village. It is chic, with some French influences, and some Italian. And rightly so, the decor reflects the type of products you will find at Bite. While perusing the Spinosi pastas, creative jams, chocolate balsamic, designer waters, artisan knives - I couldn't help but wish that my entire fridge and pantry were empty so that I could re-stock it entirely at Bite.
Everything you have heard about the fantastic duck products is true. The "ficelle" of foie gras mousse is absolutely dreamy. Lucky for us, David, the staff member on hand and a chef at the Willowpark Golf Course, gave us a taste. I think my eyes must have popped out of my head; it is so rich and incredibly flavourful, but oh so creamy. According to David, Bite is the only retailer in Calgary to carry Rougie duck. I asked him for his favourite duck recipe, of which he replied there are "too many to name." Fair enough, but cast iron or sauté? "Cast iron, it holds the heat better." Perfect.
There is also a selection of truffle products including sliced black truffles, white truffle butter, a top-notch white truffle oil, and truffle juice. This is one step closer to real truffles, but still no cigar. I am sure I will have lots of fun experimenting with these products in the future, but I have too many truffle products in the fridge which still need my attention. We did leave with the "ficelle" of foie gras mousse, a Rougie duck breast, and some Torrone Meringato for good measure. I highly recommend it. It is the BEST Torrone I've ever had, and I've had more than my share....superb. Everything comes wrapped in a piece of red tissue paper, which I hate to admit, makes you feel a little bit festive. It is just plain fun to pick up a couple items of pure luxury.
The late afternoon was then spent with a bit of the ficelle, some bread, grapes and wine to warm up after our adventure into the cold. The duck was beautiful, and for two people a reasonable enough expense. It is also very easy to prepare. (Sorry David, but the cast-iron skillet was in the BBQ...and it is so cold out that if we took the cover off it would surely crack. Next time.)
Check out Bite - I promise you'll get bitten in the best possible way. Bite Groceteria, 1212A 9th Ave. S.E., 263-3966. Hours: Tuesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., again from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday 12-6 p.m. Closed Mondays.
Bitten Duck (serves 2)
1 Rougie Duck Breast
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
1 tsp pomegranate molasses
1/4 tsp pink peppercorns
scant amount of ground cinnamon
1. Allow the duck breast to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Also, preheat a deep sauté pan to medium heat. Being careful not to cut through to the meat, slice the skin side of the duck cross-ways with a very sharp knife (Bite has plenty if you don't!). Rub sea salt into the skin.
2. Place the duck breast skin side down into the sauté pan and do not move for 6 minutes. If you have a splatter screen, this is a good time to pull it out. Once the skin is golden brown and has reduced in size, it is ready to be flipped. Using tongs, flip the duck away from yourself. Allow the duck to continue to cook for 4 minutes. Meanwhile, mash the pink peppercorns with a mortar and pestle. Sprinkle over the skin, a small amount of ground cinnamon, the pomegranate molasses, nearly all of the peppercorns. Cover the sauté pan, and move it to the oven for 9-10 minutes.
3. Remove the duck breast to a plate and cover with foil. Allow the meat to relax for at least 5 minutes. Slice the duck across the grain, and move to plates just barely sprinkled with cinnamon. Add the last bit of pink peppercorns to each plate, and enjoy.