What do you get when you combine our valley’s top chefs, fresh local food and wine, and over 150 people who care deeply about protecting, supporting, and encouraging local food production? A perfect summer evening and yet another reminder that we live in the best place on earth.
Last night, the Island Chefs’ Cooperative hosted a gourmet five-course white linen dinner, paired with local wines at Dan and Regan Ferguson’s Dragonfly Farm. Proceeds from the dinner will support the “Freedom to Farm” action that resulted from the Ferguson’s legal battle over a neighbour’s complaint of noise from the farm. You can read more about their struggles and the resulting hallmark decision that, “yes, animal noises are natural to basic farming practices” here in Eat Magazine.
But let me tell you about the dinner! Unfortunately, I left my camera at home, so my only photos were taken with my iPhone. We were greeted with a glass of Rocky Creek Jubilee Sparkling 2011 and offered fabulous canapes prepared by Ian Blom of Merridale Cidery and Bistro. Just imagine these: (because I was too busy eating to take photos, I guess)
Beddis blue cheese gougere with fig shallot compote. (My favourite)
Confit of Dragonfly guinea fowl. Butter cracker. Apple and pickled mustard seed.
Salmon, basil and preserved lemon sausage. Shaved baguette.
Once we were seated, we were served Bradford Boisvert’s (Amuse on the Vineyard) First Course:
Dragonfly Farm tomatoes four ways:
Tomato consomme with basil espuma
Confit tomatoes, crispy garlic confit
Heirloom tomato salad with Vancouver Island Salt and balsamic vinegar powder
Tomato sorbet and charred summer onion
all accompanied by Cherry Point Coastal White 2011.
Every component of this plate was an Experience with a capital E and we were reminded just why we love eating at Amuse on the Vineyard.
Dan Hudson’s (Hudson’s on First) Second Course of Corn and Lobster Mushroom Soup was ALSO to die for. He served it garnished with chives and basil oil and accompanied it with a delicate herbed bread and Blue Grouse Pinot Gris 2010.
Just when you thought things couldn’t get any better, Brock Windsor (Stone Soup Inn) served his alder-smoked Fanny Bay oysters. I’ve never been much of an oyster fan . . . until now. I swear I could have eaten a plateful of these. These were unbelievably good. His accompaniments were just right–they accompanied but didn’t overpower the main star of the plate.
But wait! There’s more.
Bill Jones (he’s the mushroom guy) from Deerholme Farm served
Pasture-raised beef moussaka with eggplant, chanterelles and porcini bechamel.
I despise eggplant.
I don’t eat beef.
I DEVOURED this dish!! Vignetti Zanatta’s Pinot Nero 2009 accompanied this fourth course.
By this time, the sun had set, the twinkle lights sparkled and so did Fatima DaSilva’s (Bistro 161 and Vinoteca) amazing harvest dessert:
Rum spice cake, lemon roasted apples, ginger caramel sauce and . . . wait for it . . . cardamom ice cream. A perfect finale to an amazing dinner.
An added benefit of a long-table dinner like this is meeting people who also share your passion for food and farming. We sat across from four chefs from the Marina Restaurant in Oak Bay. Talk about enthusiasm for all things food related. We really enjoyed talking with them, hearing their stories, and we’ve promised to head to Oak Bay soon to sample their work.
Next weekend–there’s more!! We are heading up to Comox to Flavour–the North Island’s Gourmet Picnic held at Coastal Black Estate Winery. Can’t get enough of local food, it seems, as the following week we’ll be chowing down in Metchosin at the Feast of Fields celebration.