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#LegsAndTie with Yorkshire Valley Farms and Edulis

“You had me at Edulis” – or at least that’s how I remember responding when Marian from Branding and Buzzing asked me to participate in Yorkshire Valley Farms #LegsAndTie programme.

To build exposure for their brand and product the organic chicken producer hired B & B to recruit four bloggers who would each be matched with one of four different restaurants to create a dish with their chicken. After going in for a day at the restaurant’s kitchen each of us then had the opportunity to invite nine friends for a dinner built around the main-event chicken dish. Twitter activity and a sponsored post would result, but more importantly folks would get the opportunity to taste some really delicious food while in the enjoyable company of like-minded foodsters.

I think just about everyone who follows restaurants in Toronto has read some of the praise for Tobey Nemeth and Michael Caballo’s Edulis. (To name two examples: there is the Globe’s review and the best new restaurant accolade from enRoute Magazine.)

Olives in the spotlight (a desk reading lamp for photos) with guests taking photos.

Olives in the spotlight (a desk reading lamp for photos) with guests taking photos.

Edulis occupies the space just south of King Street in what used to be the Niagara Street Café. The food that Chef Caballo creates is tied directly to both the influences that he and Nemeth picked up while in Spain and to their heartfelt desire to showcase the product of local farmers and food producers.

The plated chicken skin chorizo with ajo blanco on kitchen day.

On my assigned “kitchen day” Chef Caballo took me through his concept for a chicken chorizo made from chicken skin wrapped around chopped meat from leg quarters. (Highlighting the delicious applications for under-used dark meat was also a secondary purpose for the #LegsAndTie programme.) After poaching and searing it he planned to serve it on top of an ajo blanco – a white soup made from lightly-toasted almonds and with the texture of a thin sauce.

Chef Caballo testing the seasoning in the ajo blanco.

Chef Caballo testing the seasoning in the ajo blanco.

While in charge of seasoning the ajo blanco I was quickly reminded of the difference between home salt levels and what restaurants use.

Chef Caballo breaking down the leg quarters and skinning them: I would have taken three times as long and the skin would have been much less pristine.

Chef Caballo breaking down the leg quarters and skinning them: I would have taken three times as long and the skin would have been much less pristine.

Anyone who has watched a few hours of food television knows that checking this seasoning by tasting is restaurant less number one. Chef Caballo admits that dipping a tasting spoon into a running blender is definitely one of those “I’m a trained professional, don’t try this at home, kids” moments.

Science helps solve an age-old kitchen problem: how to keep the casing and filling of a sausage together.

Science helps solve an age-old kitchen problem: how to keep the casing and filling of a sausage together.

Michael used a bit of meat glue to help the chopped meat adhere to the chicken skin as he rolled them into chorizo shape before they were poached and sliced.

The chicken leg-and-thigh chorizo wrapped in chicken skin with ajo blanco on restaurant day.

The chicken leg-and-thigh chorizo wrapped in chicken skin with ajo blanco on restaurant day.

On the last day of July the ten of us gathered in the sunny, attractively-decorated dining room for dinner. Tobey Nemeth – who is also a trained chef and was one of the key players at Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar, a critical class in Toronto’s advanced degree for appreciative gluttons – is key charge of overseeing the smooth operation of the dining room.

To warm up our appetites for the special dish, the crew at our table (affectionately known as Table A) sampled several of the dishes from the menu. Carmen has a full post with more details about these dishes, but to give you a sense of their delicious luxury I’ll note that they included the Charcoal Baked New Potato with Salt Cured Foie Gras, Poached Baby Leeks with Black Winter Truffles, and the justifiably popular Lightly Smoked Herring in Oil.

The chicken skin chorizo was welcomed with rapt attention and plates were quickly cleaned. It definitely did an excellent job of highlighted the rich, subtly gamey flavour of dark meat Yorkshire Valley chicken. If there were any skeptics at the table, they were convinced. I’ll have to make plans to go back and get the full Edulis experience with one of their multi-course tasting menus.

Yvonne posted about her dinner at Fabbrica and I like forward to seeing what the other bloggers put up. Follow @YVFOrganic and the #LegsAndTie hash-tag for more updates.

Edulis Restaurant: 169 Niagara St., Toronto, 416-703-4222, @EdulisToronto

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