According to Anthony Bourdain, "they've raised the profile of Canada to an international level almost singlehandedly." Not that locals need the reminder. You'd be hard-pressed to find a Montrealer who's never heard of Toqué, a Montreal restaurant that's not only redefined Quebec cuisine, but in many ways, created a Québécois gastronomical movement from scratch.
So when co-owners Christine Lamarche and Relais & Châteaux* Grand Chef Normand Laprise -- the title might sound a little stuffy, but don't be fooled, Kamouraska farm-raised Laprise is as approachable and down-to-earth as grand chefs come -- announced the release of Toqué! Creators of a New Quebec Gastronomy, I was all ears. And eyes. And taste buds. One of Canada's greatest restaurants was about to reveal how to replicate five-diamond dishes, bona fide works of art, in the comfort of home.
But they never said these recipes were going to be easy. I published a handful of them myself here on About.com Montreal, and as a fairly good home cook myself, I gotta tell ya, just sourcing some of the ingredients is a challenge. Think vanilla grass, razor clams, edible violas. But just imagine the end result. The thought of seared foie gras with strawberry and red pepper jelly served on a bed of daikon confit bathing in rhubarb water has me in near tears of ecstacy.
Toqué! Creators of a New Quebec Gastronomy is currently available via Indigo. Buy Toqué! Creators of a New Quebec Gastronomy online.
- Toqué: Creators of a New Quebec Gastronomy: The Book, The Chefs, Seven Recipes
- Anthony Bourdain: Guts & Glory Tour Headed For Montreal
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*Established in 1954, Relais & Châteaux is a French initiative, an association, or fellowship if you will, of roughly 500 luxury restaurants and hotels across five continents. Criteria for inclusion in the group is exceptionally demanding. Canada currently has 14 members, and only two Montreal restaurants made the cut. One of them is Toqué.