"Ice Fishing Adventure"; Black Light Tasting Menu in an Ice Fishing Tent
Updated: Mar 14
I’ve never had a meal that portrayed such a detailed personal story. Every course was intrinsically tied to Chef Tracy Little’s memories of ice fishing as she grew up. As I have never been ice fishing I relied on the menu to give me some insight into this winter pastime. This nine course tasting menu was also inspired by the black light used in ice fishing. I was interested to learn that ultra violet light actually helps the fish lurking beneath the ice to see the bait! I asked Chef Little if this sport always yielded a good catch but she chuckled and admitted that it didn't often. Luckily this meal at Sauvage was more than plentiful!
The menu itself is served in a real icing fishing tent. It is set up outside on the deck of the restaurant and runs for the winter season. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but the tent was much cozier than the name envisions. The menu can be for up to six people. Once stepping inside the surprisingly spacious tent, you find yourself looking at a long table with six seats. Each seat had its own faux fur blanket and there was an impressive heater that created a warm bubble on a cold winter night. There were fairy lights strung up on the ceiling of the tent, which were occasionally turned off to give the diner the full black light experience.
The nine course meal consisted of the following courses, in a progression that mimics the chef’s experience of a day of ice fishing:
The Bait Oysters, mignonette A refreshing start to the meal and representative of the bait picked up in hopes of luring in a catch. It was served with a pipette filled with the chef's house-made hot sauce.
The Tackle Box Charcuterie, cheese, and house-made pickles This was actually served in a tackle box! It was a quirky take on the common charcuterie board and offered a wide variety.
Breakfast in the Dark Truffled custard, wild boar bacon, coffee crumb, soldier Super rich, decadent, and a playful spin on classic eggs and toast “soldiers”. This course was an ode to early mornings and the comfort of a hearty breakfast.
Drilling the Hole Rice tuile, truffle & duck fat snow, watercress, saline, watermelon radish A refreshing salad lurking beneath a glowing crispy rice tuile, and served with an ice pick to have the diner “break through the ice” themselves. How clever and engaging!
Trying to Keep Warm Bison tenderloin, vegetables, whey, demi, fire With the lights out, this course was covered in a flambé. It was quite the show! The bison was expertly cooked. This course emulates warmth amidst the cold.
The Lure Gnocchi, scallop, truffle, saffron This was one of my favourite courses. Chef Little really knows her gnocchi. The gnocchi were cooked in naturally “glow-in-the-dark” water, the saffron sauce coating them was so velvety and satisfying, and the scallops were perfectly cooked. This course really "lured" us in!
The Wait Palate cleanser of the moment This was a wonderfully “wild” palate cleanser of a delicious blueberry and spruce sorbet. It sounds like a lot of the ice fishing experience is about waiting and having patience.
Atlantic cod, cauliflower, radish, mole I had never realized what a beautiful combination cod and caramelized cauliflower made, and I can’t stop thinking about this pairing. This dish was rich, complex, and hearty. Once again, the star protein in this dish was artfully cooked. This course symbolizes the catch-of-the-day. Chef Tracy Little used to work as the chef at a remote fishing retreat in northern Saskatchewan (Milton Lake Lodge). She would prepare the daily catch once it was returned to her (it doesn't get much fresher than that). This is a playful dish, as it represents the fact that Chef Little believed the group when they teased her and said they might catch cod (as cod is a saltwater fish, this was never going to happen).
Chocolate, white chocolate snow, meringue This also had a “lichen & bone marrow” caramel, which was out of this world and wildly inventive. This fudgey chocolatey cake was a sweet ending to a wild menu. This course evoked the rustic and beautiful terrain that they would emerge to after a long day of ice fishing. It was symbolic of rugged mountain tops covered with a veil of white snow.
Once again, Chef Tracy Little impresses me with her innovative food. This menu was such a playful interpretation of a day-in-the-life of ice fishing, as each course evoked distinct moments of the experience. It’s always extra special to enjoy a meal when the food is not only delicious, but tells a personal story. This “Ice Fishing Adventure” menu is a seasonal experience is only available in the winter. I can’t wait to see what the team at Sauvage cooks up for spring, as we head into the season of foraging...