The Tin Can and Victory Gardens at the end of the July Edition. Right before the start of a storm (thank you also to the weather for not raining like the forecast said you would that evening and to start storming after the night was finished).
Fourth Course of August Edition: Blueberry, Rosemary, Rhubarb Eton Mess.
We’ve served Eton Mess at Eat Together before and we were eager to have it again this year. The fruits that were available were rhubarb and blueberry. So we made a compote of just rhubarb, then a compote of blueberry and rosemary. We swirled this through freshly whipped cream, and mixed in broken pieces of meringue. A nice way to say goodbye to this dinner, and a sweet hug and hello to summer.
Third Course of August Edition: Roasted Beets with Rye “Dirt” with Arugula, Whole Pistachios, Goat Cheese, and Reduced Balsamic Glaze.
Another playful (and kind of sneaky dish).
The dish is like if you’re to encounter beets in the ground, but wouldn’t it be lovely (and cool) to be able to eat not just the beet, but everything…around it?! It’s like being a kid again and eating dirt, but not getting sick (and having something much tastier).
Second Course of the August Edition: Fennel Braised with Sambuca and Orange with Cauliflower Cous Cous, Breadcrumbs, Golden Raisins, Toasted Almonds and Creme Fraiche.
Or: the sneaky 50 billion component dish.
Ken had tried this braised fennel with sambuca and orange juice and said that it was awesome. He wanted to have it with cous cous, and as we were going through planning the dinner, the idea came to him of playing on the cous cous and making it a cauliflower cous cous. Awesome idea.
Huddled around a bowl, we cut off the tiny little florets off of two and half heads of cauliflower to make this sneaky pseudo grain (it was tricky and I got cauliflower all over the place). Then it was mixed with brown butter and salt and pepper.
We then laid this down on the plate, sprinkled golden raisins and toasted almonds top, put a spoonful of creme fraiche a bit off to the side. Then placed the fennel on top and sprinkled fresh toasted bread crumbs, orange zest, and some of the fennel fronds on top. Phew - it was fun to plate this dish (making sure all the components were there and giving my brain a different kind of exercise) - and we’re really happy with the playfulness of this dish - the cauliflower masquerading as cous cous, the fennel being unassumingly flavorful with its sweet licorice and orange taste. We hope that people liked it too.
First course of the August edition: Cauliflower Panna Cotta with Curry Granola and Lemongrass and Ginger Infused Oil.
We love this dish - but getting it to the table that night: nightmare. Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way.
When thinking of how to serve the dish, we wanted to go with a rectangle shape. So we set the panna cotta in a rectangle baking dish. As I was driving the car, with the panna cotta in the back, to my distress, when I looked at it (after making the most gentle turn I could)- I could already see it breaking (the panna cotta was a simple one that in hindsight, I should have known would act this way - it was made up of just half and half cream and agar agar). Driving with the most care I could, the panna cotta was breaking pretty badly - but was still salvageable. Looking at it, we knew we had only once chance to get it onto the plate, and we went through the most delicate and complicated way to get it on there. It was still starting to break, but the granola on top was covering up this fact and we thought all was well.
Until we started walking the plates from the kitchen to the Tin Can. We watched the panna cotta split into two with the granola falling into the gaping spaces just made. There was nothing we could do - no more salvageable panna cotta to put on the plate, no real back up plan.
But everyone was nice about it and for their niceness, that is the explanation as to why the plates looked the way they did. We’ve learned our lesson (make panna cotta with not just half and half, and put it in something where it can’t move).
Now the actual dish: In another course in the dinner, we use only a bit of the cauliflower, and had a lot left over. We didn’t want to waste it. Ken was like, “How about cauliflower panna cotta?” I thought it was weird, but wanted to see how it would taste. And on its own - it is weird - it’s like eating cauliflower soup in cold jello form. But when you put the curry granola on top (ours had puffed rice, pumkin seeds, and granola) - the textures and flavors were incredible. They complimented each other so well - at one point you’d have the silky texture of the panna cotta, and in the next, the crunchiness and saltiness of the puffed rice.
We got fancy and had an amuse bouche - Rhubarb Lime Granita topped with a mint leaf. The pale pink - slightly deceiving in that it seems like the spoon would be mild and subtle - but really - it’s a strong hit of flavor - sweet and summery, but makes your mouth slightly pucker and hungry for dinner.
For the July Edition of Eat Together - we collaborated with Victory Gardens.
We were excited to collaborate with these girls because we had heard of all the great things they were doing around town (putting on nice workshops at places all over, putting on farmers markets, and just spreading the word and helping people to grow their own good!) They didn’t disappoint.
Their space was incredible - bursting with flowers and vegetables.
For our collaboration, Lisa and Sam gave a little workshop about over wintering vegetables. We live in a climate where we can grow vegetables all year long (hooray!), and so they explained the ins and outs of this. You can start growing winter vegetables right now (kale, beets, chard, etc) - and come winter, you’re good to go.
This isn’t really about winter vegetables - but as they gave a tour of the garden (which was fun - trying to identify all the vegetables, and getting to taste some too!), they had a lot of garlic and talked about how it grows, and how you cut off the stems as its growing (the scapes) - but this is the interesting part - you leave one garlic with its scape, and usually they’re very curly - but once it straightens out - your garlic is ready to harvest. Isn’t that cool? Now you shall forever know when your garlics are ready!
Yonder over to Victory Gardens to learn more about what they’re doing and to check out an upcoming workshop and/or event!
Phew. A couple of Sundays ago, we had the July edition of Eat Together. Sorry that you’re just hearing about it now - time has flown with us resting up and starting to prepare for the August edition (already?!)
We changed up the location and had the dinner over at Victory Gardens headquarters (who we also collaborated on for this dinner - they gave a nice little workshop on over wintering vegetables - more on this in a bit!) What a beautiful space and what lovely hosts they are.
We want to say thank you again to everyone who came out, to all the people who made that night happen - Caroline, Jenny, and Brian for getting the Tin Can together for us and moving it to Victory Gardens (no easy feat!) To Camil and Andrew at Inner City Farms for providing and harvesting us the great produce we used for the dinner. To Leanne Kriz for helping us out with the unsavory job of washing dishes (after having done a chock full weekend course on hunting and also working - this girl is going to take over the world!). To Patrick Campbell for photographing the night and giving us all the very nice photos you see here and for being a great extra hand. To the Victory Gardens girls - Lisa and Sam, for doing the great workshop, providing such a lovely and inspiring space for our dinner, and letting us make a mess in the kitchen. The night was great and so smooth, and everyone helped make this happen!
Hold tight - we’re going to talk about what we served for dinner and details for the August edition!
Fourth Course of June Edition: Salted caramel affogato with zeppole rolled in cardamom sugar
We don’t have any pictures of this cause it was too dark out! Imagine this: salted caramel ice cream with a shot of espresso poured over and then deep fried eggy donuts rolled around in cardamom sugar. Does it sound as good in your head as it does ours? We’re imagining it with you right now and wish we could have some.
We do have something else that we’d really like to share with you about this dessert.
Our friend Stephanie French has recently started up roasting her own coffee (under the name Panoramic Coffee Roasters. So cool! She was totally awesome and helped create a special roast to use in our affogato. The beans were from Ecuador and had notes of pine, root beer, and tangerine (that sounds - lovely). And the awesomeness doesn’t stop there! She also provided samples of this roast for our guests to take home that night (that were so cutely packaged!) Thanks so much again Stephanie!
We also visited Stephanie at her place to test out her coffee and got to take a gander at her setup.
The roaster - it’s red. And real nice. And she does it on her balcony which has a killer view of Kitsilano and it’s beach and of North Van and all it’s mountains (hence the name for her company - Panoramic Coffee Roasters)
The beans! They look and smell a lot like lentils.
Get in on Stephanie’s coffee beans and check out what she’s doing. Get a load of those custom ceramic pour over cones!
Third course of the June Edition: Ricotta gnudi with toasted bread crumbs, sage brown butter, and roasted garlic rapini.
I think we probably killed people with this dish. Sorry guys! What’s gnudi? Well in this case, it’s basically a form of pasta that is largely made up of ricotta and parmesan. So what you see here are these giant balls of cheese (delicious ones, we promise!) and then topped with a sage brown butter sauce. The dish to end all dishes.
There is a fun aspect to gnudi. Or at least fun to the old 8 year old side to me. For gnudi, you form it into balls, and then coat it and let it sit in semolina flour.
When you’re ready to cook the gnudi (in our case, we boiled it) - you need to..excavate the gnudi. And you must do this with delicate and attentive hands. You have to bury your hands into the semolina flour, being careful to approach from the side and under. If you stick your hand in any odd place, you risk attacking the gnudi directly and breaking it. There were so many nice, odd, nostalgic sensations when separating the gnudi from the flour - it felt like when you’re a kid and you had those kits where you are separating dinosaur bones from the sand. In this case, dinosaur cheese eggs.
Or to be more adult - heavy clouds of cheese - bursting with flavor and richness.