A seafood-inspired dinner out of doors with great wine and wonderful company -- I am so grateful to have attended The Garden Dinner. I believe it's never too late to tell a story, so, as the snow falls, journey along with me back to a rainy Sunday evening in September. (All photos by Christopher Schlesak).
The brainchild of Ms. Katie Worobeck of Tennessy Willems, and with the help of Whalesbone Sustainable Oyster & Fish Supply, Norman Hardie Winery, Chefs Jamie Stunt and Charlotte Langley, and a cast of other Ottawa food professionals, The Garden Dinner was an evening for the senses, and my amazing table-mates had me laughing all night.
I was flying solo that evening and I believe now that it was by design, as I ended up sitting with five very fun, very interesting dinner guests including Oz of Oz Kafe, Jamie and Vanessa of Flowers & Vintage, a charming French wine merchant (who taught me what a brandade was) and an international man of mystery who moonlights as a DJ (complete with flask and trenchcoat).
After we were seated at our corner of the long, communal dining table, we immediately started to enjoy the lovely wine provided by Norman Hardie, who was himself in attendance. He began by introducing the wines we would be tasting with our courses, and he very graciously assured us all that, when it comes to wine, "there are no stupid questions". This statement, although true in my opinion, was also the impetous of many a repeated joke over the course of the evening, as our corner of the table had decided that the only question we had about the wine was: "Where's my wine?"
We enjoyed a multi-course meal all centred around fish and seafood, which was excellent for a non-meat eating gal like myself. Each dish was delicious and unique in its own way, and rather than list them all, I will focus on my favourites.
The bread and butter. A simple thing but so good. The bread was a seaweed and Old Bay baguette and the butter was infused with shellfish flavours, served with sea honey and piped into an empty oyster shell.
The soup. A beautifully presented spiced fish soup, delicately garnished with yoghurt, prawn pickle, prawn salt and herbs.
Sashimi. Ahi tuna with peach, mustard, tamari, amaranth and garden garnish. I am sucker for sashimi and this dish was perfectly balanced and heavenly to eat.
The whole fish. Artic char presented on a gorgeous board designed specifically for the event by the lovely folks at N-Product. A delicious main in a series of delicious courses, served with a selection of family style sides, of which the roasted broccoli was my favourite.
The dessert. A light-as-air angel food cake with bourbon peach caramel, sea salt whip cream and edible flower garnish.
The wines we enjoyed included Norman Hardie's 2012 Riesling, 2012 County Pinot Noir and 2012 County Chardonnay. My favourite was (and is) the Pinot. A lovely evening in a garden with newfound friends and delicious food and wine. The Garden Dinner.