20 Days to go - Market Bistro
Day 2 – Market Bistro at Three Sisters
One of the great things about Canmore Uncorked is the opportunity to find restaurants that you might not be too familiar with – those that are off the beaten track or not as well known around town. Back in 2014 when Canmore Uncorked started this could perhaps be said of the Market Bistro at Three Sisters, a great little French bistro which was a well-loved secret of residents living close by but largely unknown to most of the town and its visitors.
Bistros are cornerstones of culinary tradition in France. The young student, the old retiree, the sophisticated urbanite and the agricultural worker all gather to enjoy the simple and unpretentious – but always satisfying – local food. Market Bistro head chef and owner Anthony Rabot and his partner Val Trudel have brought their love of fresh ingredients, authentic flavours and good wines and created a small slice of French culture in the Canadian Rockies – and have now firmly established themselves as a local favourite.
The bistro’s $22 three-course menu for Canmore Uncorked this year is inspired by simplicity – and of course the flavours of Anthony’s native Perigord region of western France. The Market Bistro is a personal favourite of mine, and I never need to be asked twice to visit. As always* I cycled out on the wonderful trail along the river from downtown Canmore, and on arrival I was greeted by the usual wonderful smells and vibrant atmosphere. (*I suffer from selective memory of course).
The first course this year is a choice between a Tourain du Perigord or Ratatouille Bruschetta, and while I love my roasted vegetables, I could not pass up on the aroma of garlic coming from the open kitchen and opted for the former. The idea of serving Tourrain came from Anthony’s father Jean-Jacques on a visit here two years ago, and for those not familiar with the dish (such as myself), it is a traditional wedding soup with a bit of a twist. My words will never do justice to Anthony’s story (please imagine a fabulous French accent as you read) but the basic gist is as follows. At a Perigord wedding the guests eat and drink together and then the newlyweds disappear to, well, do what newlyweds do. But rather than simply go home, the guests stay and drink a whole lot more, and then collectively cook up a very simple garlic and onion broth which after about three hours they pour it into a chamber pot (!) and go disturb the bride and groom. And make them drink it from said vessel. Consummation with a consommé, it could be said…
So, in short, Anthony has said the Tourain du Perigord is a soup made by drunken French people and supped out of a bedpan. I can’t wait to try it!
Fortunately, there is no chamber pot in sight as the soup arrives, instead there is a nice presentation in a small bowl and a side of garlic toast. The soup is delicious, though not for the faint hearted – in a 10-litre batch of the soup there is 1kg of garlic and 1.5kg of onions. A small pack of mints might be in order if you are headed to a business meeting afterward like I was!
For the main course the choice is Chicken a la Provençale or Anthony’s take on Porchetta. This is a no-brainer for me as I love pork belly and have been very lucky to try several fabulous variations around town (more on The Georgetown Inn later). Originally an Italian dish, Porchetta is very popular around the Mediterranean, with each region using its own seasonal herbs and veggies to create a local variant. Simplicity is again the key, with Porchetta often being served as dinner on Christmas Day in France because it is very easy to prepare and does not need precision in cooking time. The Market Bistro variation uses lemon zest, garlic, herbs and fennel, and as Anthony describes, there are three different parts to every bite – the crispiness of the crackling, the richness of the all-important fat layer, and the herb-infused flavour of the meat. Rustic vegetables round out the dish, which is again outstanding.
Dessert was a step too far on this particular visit – I know that the festival menu features a Mocha Banana Bread or an Apple maple pudding du Chomeur, and based on the popularity of the Bistro’s famous lemon pie I will assume that the desserts will be of the highest quality.
While at the Bistro please check out Anthony's line of house-made preserves, and also while in Three Sisters do not miss out on the opportunity to wander next door to UnWined and try the $5 festival special – a tasting flight of Bordeaux wines; a Margaux, a St Emilion, and a Haut-Medoc. As I said at the top of this piece, Anthony and Val have a love of wine, and it is only natural that they should also own this boutique liquor store that features a great selection of unique wines, beers and spirits.
102 75 Dyrgas Gate Canmore, AB, T1W 0A6, Canada