How fitting that the title of a raucous and syncopated event is called Render…
Why the name Render? How about a word lesson to assist us? “rendər/” as it pertains to ad and copy, is when separate layers and entities are ‘melded’ together to form a cohesive whole. That’s precisely what happened at Render Volume 1, which was an amalgam of vibrant local art, sexy food, and bright music at Nyood restaurant on Queen West.
As explained to me by one of the organizers, David King, with events that run for the first time, he said things were in a state of brief disarray. However, in a blink of an eye, everything picked up its natural stride – the setup, the musicians, the food – in the end, it all came together to showcase these artists’ talents and celebrate various forms of art; and so, the party went off without a hitch. This positive spirit was one that was echoed and adopted by attendees that evening.
The art on display was sprinkled throughout the restaurant. From silhouetted geishas being showered with a multitude of cherry blossoms, tongue and cheek biblical versions of Where’s Waldo and finding Jesus instead, to a cartoon penguin in a bowler hat, there was no shortage of talent that evening.
In addition to soaking up dynamic artwork, Chef Rob Bragagnolo from Marben provided food for fodder all while exuding an approachable and friendly demeanour. He aims to please… and succeed he did. Highlights included a silky coral coloured gazpacho – the sweetness from the watermelon, use of refreshing cucumber, colour and body from the red peppers and tomato was rounded off with the tang of sherry vinegar.
The next dish was skewered cubes of watermelon, baby cherry tomatoes, and sheep’s milk cheese. Devoured in one fell swoop, in your mouth the wateriness of the melon seeps into the soft nutty cheese and resulted in a creamy flavourful melange.
Crisp, skinny frites were served in kitschy cute Asian noodle boxes. They were hand cut, deep fried to perfection, seasoned with chili powder and hot smoked spanish paprika. To finish, they were drizzled with a reduced tomato sauce and roasted garlic aioli.
The mini burgers, modeled off of the John’s burger from the Marben menu, were snatched up before they had even a moment to rest on the wooden planks they were served on. Thick patties made of fresh ground chuck were seasoned and cooked medium rare. The juicy meat was doled out on homemade tangy pickled relish and nestled on soft squishy brioche buns; they were salivating goodness.
Next, another skewered bite of tasty: crisp, spicy chorizo followed by grilled octopus, a wedge of potato, and finished with a bit of blood orange. Although a small dainty little thing to behold and devour, it was certainly my favourite of the evening. It was packed with a one-two punch of flavours. Textural pleasure was received from from the crisp chorizo, followed by a fluffy interiored potato, unctuous octopus, and burst of brightness and delicate sweetness from the blood orange.
Dessert was a rectangular wedge of sinful chocolate tart. With a 75% cacao content, there was a slight bitter finish but a sophisticated taste because there wasn’t any overzealous use of sugar. The tart’s chocolaty filling was reminiscent of a whipped pate. There was a velvety texture and I suspect this was achieved with the use of a bain-marie. It’s a marvel to know that something simple as eggs, cream, butter, and chocolate could create something so rich and pleasurable. Best of all was the hearty digestive cookie base.
The two artists, Stephanie Avery and UBER5000 (real name Al), whose involvement with Render I asked about, spoke highly of Daniel Berzen and how natural it was to agree to collaborate in this gathering of different facets of the creative community. Bringing various forms of art and culture provides for fantastic means of integrating diverse works of art and allows viewers some introspection in a relaxed environment. Many of the pieces were light in tone but weren’t without their commentary on society and culture.
This event was Volume 1, and it will be exciting to see what Berzen and his team have in store for us with Volume 2…