Originally written September 11, 2011
Slow food movements, restaurants and people who demand local ingredients prepared fresh, and the growing population of food savvy home cooks are already driving the industry towards the 7 tenants of the Lima Declaration. They are taking pride in fresh local ingredients prepared simply and honestly, with techniques that are often passed down from generation to generation.
Feast of fields is an annual event which brings together local producers of quality product, wineries, and local restaurants to showcase the best in eating, preparing, and sourcing local food. Feast of Fields is run in many communities around Canada, and is a growing focal point for showcasing the best in local cuisine.
Vancouver has been running Feast of Fields since 1995. Tickets for the event sell out months before hand, and getting a spot guarantees an afternoon of gorging yourself on local delights and drinks before a “mandatory” late day nap.
Over 50 restaurants, wineries, and other industry groups showed up at Krause Berry Farms in Langley to display their skills, their products, and to have a little fun.
There was a wide variety of dishes. Local newcomers Go Fish brought in some tequila marinated salmon rolled with microgreens and topped with tobiko, while local favourites such as The Vancouver Club made confit duck pizettes. Raw oysters with blood orange aspic, duck terrine on Belgian endive, and simple favourites such as roasted corn on the cob were all available, and everyone (myself included) made sure we stuffed ourselves silly with multiple helpings of our favourites.
Some of the most popular were the simplest dishes. Preston’s produced a stellar biscuits and gravy that would rival any Deep South biscuits and gravy I can think of. By the time I returned for seconds, they had already run through all 1600 portions of biscuits. I couldn’t walk away empty handed, so I got them to spoon some leftover gravy onto my plate and mopped it up with random pieces of bread from other booths.
Desserts were well represented at many of the booths. Cocolico amazed me with their salted caramel apple tart. This is not the sickly sweet caramel that you coat candy apples with, but rather a light fluffy caramel that does not coat and linger on your tongue as you would expect from heavy sugar confections.
Beachside Forno created a refreshing seared scallop with bacon (who doesn’t love bacon), corn, and sundried tomato succotash. This was a perfect complement to a glass of white wine while standing out in the 28 degree country sun.
All food and no wine makes a very dull article. Okanagan’s Blasted Church Vineyards came with a selection of their high quality wines. The Big Bang Theory blend of primarily Pinot Noir and Merlot, with a little Cab Franc, Malbec, and Syrah makes for a refreshing and bold summer red.
Locally made spirits prove that the Brits and the Russians don’t hold the monopoly on Gin and Vodka. Victoria Gin is well balanced, not juniper heavy like most gins, and easy to drink. Left Cost Hemp Vodka is smooth and free from the burn that signifies impurities left during the distillation process. It is almost as smooth as Russian Standard Platinum, which is my personal benchmark for all vodkas.
BC has a lot of offer to food aficionado. The interior houses a vibrant farming community producing quality vegetables and wines, the shorelines providing access to an array of seafood, and next door Alberta producing some of the best beef in the world, it is hard to find an argument for not eating and drinking local when there are amazing fresh ingredients that when processed by skilled craftspeople becomes something otherworldly.
If you want to see what your local producers and restaurants can do in the height of the summer season, make sure you hit up your local Feast of Fields in the summer. Tickets sell out fast so get them early. To get on the list for the Vancouver 2012 event, head over to their site.