Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Feast of Fields 2011 at Krause Berry Farms

This Sunday, I attended a food enthusiasts paradise....Feast of Fields. The event is a 4 hour gourmet wandering harvest festival. WIth a wine glass and linen napkin in hand, it's a chance to taste the very best of BC from chefs, vitners, brewers, farmers, fisherman, ranchers, catering companies, and food artisans from across the province.....pretty much a unlimited 40 course sample meal paired with wine and beer! The "Feast of Fields" concept is to highlight the connections between producer and chef, field and table, and farm folks and city folks. The event (which is in its 17th year) is actually an annual fundraiser for a non for profit organization, Farm Folk City Folk, which is dedicated to support sustainable food sources. 

Last year, Leggy Redhead and Big A attended the Feast of Fields on Vancouver Island and told me so many wonderful things about it. This year, when they told me that they were planning on buying tickets to the "Metro Vancouver" event- without hesitation, I bought one too.

Tickets for this event were $85 and we paid an additional $15 for a shuttle bus from Vancouver to the venue in Langley, Krause Berry FarmsThis venue was gorgeous, scenic, with much-needed shady areas for the amazingly gorgeous, but hot, late summer afternoon. There was a small stage with live music, wagon rides, ponies (I mean horses) behind fences, and various hand-washing stations, port-a-potties, and water stations. This event is run extremely well and even with a sell out crowd, even though their were a few long line-ups (that actually moved at a pretty quick pace) the atmosphere remained relaxed, friendly, and chill throughout the afternoon. 

Our bus rolled on to the farm just after 1pm, we promptly checked, received our linen napkins and wine glasses and enthusiastically entered what I started calling my "Food Lover's Disneyland."

I ate A LOT, and drank A LOT. I sampled every food item, and tried a wide range of beer, wine, and beverages. Some things that I sampled, I've tried before/ eaten at that restaurant before, but  most of the options were from places I've never dined at and in some instances, that I've never heard of. It was so great to learn about more delicious places to do and things to try all over Greater Vancouver. Everything I had was good, but there were some items that really stood out for me. 

My first taste of FOF was amazing. From Fishworks in North Vancouver, Local Oysters with blood orange aspic with homemade mignotte and citrus jelee. Really refreshing and bright flavour. Cold oysters on a hot day...We were off to an excellent start! 

Savoury City City Catering Two Rivers Meats' Fraser Vally pork bangers and mash. Mini sausage served in a twice baked nugget potatoe with chives and a variety of out of this world mustards including a lime cilantro and masala options.

Meat & Bread Pemberton Meadows beef chuck roll sandwich, soy braised, hoisin glazed with house-made kimchi. This was slow roasted and falling apart.....it's no porchetta (the flavours were good, but mellow) but still pretty tasty.

Dockside Restaurant had one of my favourites...an amazing oversize sushi roll filled with pickled daikon, carrots, and veg, topped with a sliver of veal tongue and garnished with pea shootsThis was so fresh but then topping it with the rich, buttery cooked tongue. When I finished my first epic round of all of the samples and let everything digest, I tried to get seconds of this item but they had run out.

Seasonal 56 took the club sandwich to the extreme with their Duck Club: Cured Duck Breast, Duck Confit, sliced local tomatoes and greens on house made rye. The meat was soooo tender and juicy and the tomatoes were vibrant and exploding with flavour. The greens were fresh and crispy and the bread had an amazing chew level. 

Go Fish! on West Broadway and their high-energy team were an extremely busy station all day serving up Tequila cured wild Sockeye salmon Summer ceviche. with thinly sliced salmon rolled around picked vegetables and topped with fresh pea shoots and sprayed with a hit of tequila flavour. 

The Vancouver Club had an impressive offering (and long line to match) for a Yarrow duck confit  pizette mini pizza with pumpkin seed pesto. I was really impressed by this culinary team: they were efficient and friendly, and enthusiastic about their food and the event. They also really paid attention to detail and presentation and the head chef grated fresh parmesan to top every pizza as it left the grill. THis was a hearty dish so after a few bites, in the interest I had a few bites and then, because I'm classy picked off the meat and licked off the delicious pesto. 

EBO was neighbours to the Vancouver Club and they too, offered a dish with a WOW! factor (and long line to match). Roasted BC Salmon, BLT sliders with Tiroler bacon, Hazlemere Organic Farm's greens, tomatoes, pickled red onion, chili bean mayo on a brioche bun. This was a beautiful little sandwich. The succulent salmon with the smoky bacon the fresh vegetables and the creamy mayo with a slight kick in a soft slightly sweet brioche bun was absolutely heavenly.

On a lighter note, Aphrodite Pie Shop offered a baked beet crisp with sweet onion tzatiki. Super light flavours just dancing on your tongue. It really tasted like a bite of late summer/early fall.

Edible Canada @ the Market wowed me with their ultimate salty/sweet dish, Silk Spice crusted BC Albacore tuna served on a wedge of yuza marinated cucumber and watermelon with a drizzle of strawberry balsamic reduction. 

My favourite dish of the afternoon was from Lolita's "South of the Border" Mexican Cantina. Executive chef Shelome Bouvette and her team were presenting and serving a mind-blowing Ceviche Habanero. Tangerine Citrus and habanero pepper cold marinated local oceanwise select seafood (looked like mainly salmon and scallop) with fresh guacamole and pickled chayote (mexican squash) served on an organic blue corn tostada chip. This dish has a lot of elements and they all worked together to make a bright and beautiful dish. It was pretty to look at with the bright colours and looked like a perfect summer dish. The bright citrus really popped with the fresh seafood, the creamy avocado guac added a richness in texture and flavour, the habanero gave it a significant kick, and the crisp pickled chayote and tostada kept everything light. It tasted like an awesome afternoon on a sunny patio with friends and cold beer. An unreal offering and perfect for the hot day.

In the interest of eating as much delicious food as possible, I tried to limit the carb intake and I stuck to mainly savoury options. There were a few gorgeous desserts that I had to try.

From the The Pointe Restaurant at the Wickaninnish Inn, Smoked Milk Chocolate (they smoke it in house), topped with peaches, corn and chanterelles. Slight bitterness and amazing soft texture that was just on the verge on melting with an ooey, gooey, deliciousness. The corn/chanterelle flavour was a bit lost on me, but the fresh peach with the smoky chocolate was to die for. I asked the chef how they smoke the chocolate and he told me that they use a smoker, put it in for no more than 5 min (otherwise you get a chocolate- flavoured cinder) and make sure you put ice in the metal box to cool the smoke as it flows through. The slight bitter flavour of the smoke perfectly offsets the sweetness of the chocolate. 

Cocolico served up Caramel Apple tarts featuring Apple Barn apples and caramel sauce. The pastry was super dense and crumbly and not too sweet, letting the crisp apple and salty caramel flavours dominate. 

The Vancouver Club served up a dessert option that was light, cool, and refreshing with a kic- their twist on an ice cream sandwich with mini gingersnaps filled with house-made basil and peach sorbet. 

I definitely also sampled many of the booze (or libations....I love that word) offerings......and went back for multiple re-fills. My favourites were: From Driftwood Brewery- Whitebark Wheat Ale, Farmhand Ale, Crooked Coast Altbier, Vista D'oro Farms Sangria, Village Taphouse poured Howe Sound Brewery Whitecap Wheat Ale, R & B Sun God Wheat Ale, Whistler Brewing- Whisky Jack, and Victoria Spirits Victoria Gin. 

It was an afternoon of pure, sun-soaked culinary delight and gluttony with awesome pals Leggy Redhead, Big A, and Judith. One of the best afternoon's ever! I'll definitely be at Feast of Fields 2012. 

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