Locals Restaurant in Courtnay is one of the best places I have dined. Even on my last visit, when I went in with a highly critical eye, the whole experience was damn near flawless. So let me get this out of the way right now. The title of this piece refers to my plan to recreate one of the desserts from Locals with a mind towards my style and preferences. However, and I can’t stress this enough, Locals does everything well, in fact I will do a quick review of the whole place first so as to make it clear that my intentions are to neither bash their desserts nor claim that I could do better than their own patisserie. Rather I wish to put my own spin on a dessert that I truly enjoyed. Think of it as a loving homage.
First and foremost, check out this other perspective on Locals, by my good buddy over at Eat Drink Breathe. On with my review!
Locals, compared to what I’m used to, is very relaxed. The staff is welcoming and attentive but without the subtle undercurrent of “I’m going to get you out as quickly as possible so I can flip this table” I’ve come across from time to time. There is a genuine feeling that the staff wants you to take your time and enjoy the experience. The decor is perfectly suited to the restaurant as well, with brick walls and pictures of fresh (and presumably local) ingredients hanging everywhere.
The kitchen too looked very relaxed, without the frenetic energy I’ve seen in the kitchens I’ve been in. An impressive feat, really. It was my impression that the clientele responded to this atmosphere and I didn’t get any kind of feeling that anyone was growing impatient when their food didn’t arrive right away.
Ah, the food. Locals is run by CCC Chef Ronald St. Pierre. The rank of Certified Chef de Cuisine means that the chef in questioned has achieved what few chefs do. Chef Pierre’s skill shines though and his dedication to local ingredients really makes this a special place. The food is excellent. After an amuse (a really awesome touch) I had Tuna Tataki for my appetizer, which had some truly awesome flavours going for it.
Main course was a Pulled Pork Tart. Now, I went in to Locals with an eye to being critical, but it’s hard here. Everything is just so lovingly made. The pulled pork in my opinion, was practically perfectly prepared. However, the thyme short crust tart shell, though inspired, had far too much salt for my tastes. Still, the whole meal was delicious and I of course saved room for dessert.
Here is where my specialty lies and where we see how I approach the same dessert. Locals does a daily pie and when I was in the pie in question was Blackberry Pear Pie with Lavender Ice Cream. The pie was a short crust pie (very similar to the pulled pork tart, though not nearly as salty) with a lattice top.
My Blackberry Pear Pie will be a little different. First off I think I’ll have a full sized pie with an open top. I’m also going to use my flaky crust, rather than a short crust. I feel the open top and flaky crust work well with the type of fruit/berry pie that I’m going for. So, first we roll out our pie dough into the shell and blind bake at 400° for ten minutes. While that’s going we make the filling.
200g Bosc Pear, peeled and cubed (about 1 1/2 pears)
20g Blackberry Liqueur (such as Marie Brizard)
1/2 tsp Finely Chopped Fresh Rosemary
1/2 Bosc Pear, peeled, cored and thinly sliced (for topping)
Mix together the sugar and cornstarch first to prevent lumps during baking. Combine the rest of the ingredients, excluding the topping pear then mix in the cornstarch mixture. Put the whole shebang in the partially baked pie shell. Lay out the topping pears as shown and sprinkle lightly with sugar.
Next we bake at 400° for about 45 minutes. Slice and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
And there’s my pie. It’s different than the Locals version, though no less delicious and inspired by the same ingredients. This was a fun time for me, re creating a dessert I enjoyed, and I look forward to doing this kind of thing again. I’ll leave you now with a message from Chef Ronald St. Pierre: