From This Rock – A Dinner of Local Fare
I recently had the pleasure of attending a very special dinner hosted by RANL (Restaurant Association of Newfoundland and Labrador) and The Sheraton Hotel Newfoundland. From This Rock – A Dinner of Local Fare is an annual culinary tour that travels across the province presenting attendees with a multi- course dinner prepared by some of the provinces best chefs. It is an inventive interpretation of local foods and the grand finale was right here in St. John’s! To mark the final stop, RANL invited NL native Shaun Majumder of 22 Minutes fame to host the event. Shaun has recently become a major supporter of the local food industry with the launch of his new series on the W network Majumder Manor which focuses on sustainable living and tourism in Burlington, Newfoundland.
The evening began with a cocktail reception compliments of Collingwood’s Spirits & Wines which featured a delicious Iceberg Vodka (local) with fresh local cranberries and just a splash of ginger ale – absolutely delicious! As I made my way over to the seating chart I was thrilled to see so many local dignitaries present- Premier Kathy Dunderdale, Minister Terry French, food critic Karl Wells – it’s a wonderful thing to see such a tremendous support of the local food movement. As I scan the seating chart looking for my name I see they have sat me at Mr. Majumder’s table! Lucky day! Also at my table were a couple of food bloggers from Feast – An Edible RoadTrip who were on the Newfoundland portion of their cross Canada food tour. I gave a little sigh of relief that I wasn’t to be the only one taking photos of my food at the table.
After the cocktail reception we made our way inside and found our tables. Shaun was introduced and, after a few laughs, got down to business.”I think what’s really exciting about the food movement in Newfoundland and Labrador is changing and redefining the way we look at the food we eat and the options that we have. I’m so excited about the future of food in Newfoundland and Labrador, we’re all about celebrating local food and local culture.” The more Shaun spoke the more passionate he became. It was evident that this is something that has become very important in Newfoundland. More and more chefs are sourcing from local famers, hunters and foragers and the result is a better dish and a more prosperous food community in general.
Every single ingredient in each of the eight courses was locally sourced and you could taste the difference local made. The carrots were sweeter, the greens fresher and the meat was tender and melted in your mouth. I was absolutely blown away by the quality of produce and game available right at our doorstep! Cooking with local, fresh goods truly does make a difference to the entire dinning experience.
We started the meal with an amuse bouche prepared by Bacalao Chef Ivan Kyutukchiev of carrot crème brûlée with blood orange reduction, crispy local bacon and candied carrots. It was absolutely incredible. The sweetness of the local carrots paired nicely with the savory of the bacon.
Next came the soup course prepared by Holiday Inn Chef Andrew Hodge. The soup was a spiced parsnip and carrot with turnip green crème fraîche and partridgeberry gastrique. This was one of my favourite dishes of the evening. The soup was so creamy and spicy – absolutely delicious!
Next up was a beet and microsprouts salad prepared by Chef Roger Andrews of Relish. I don’t think I’ve ever tasted fresh local beets before – wow. Following the salad was my personal favourite dish, Chef Shaun Hussey of Chinched‘s charcuterie. Local pork and rosemary sausage, parsnip puree, pickled winter chanterelles and chicharrón. In my opinion, the local chanterelles were the stars of the evening.
Chef Garry Gosse of Harbour Breeze Catering prepared our fish course. We had fresh local butter-poached cod on a bed of local root vegetable hash. The fish was delicious but the hash was out of this world! Next up was our meat course by Chef Hans Uebel of The Sheraton Hotel Newfoundland who served us a cider brined Point Leamington roast pork loin with charred apple chutney and molasses. Molasses and pork? Yes please!
Finally came dessert prepared by Chef Jillian Lake of the Sheraton Hotel Newfoundland, a cheese course by Chef Adam Blanchard of Five Brothers Cheese and a signature truffle from the Newfoundland Chocolate Company. Wow. My favourite was Jillian Lake’s partridgeberry macaroon – the mixture of sweet and tart was perfection.
Once we were all stuffed to the gills with local goodness, Shaun showed a sneak peek of Majumder Manor Season 2 and fans of the show are in for a treat! (Sorry, I promised Shaun no spoilers!) Afterwards Shaun Hussey and Michelle Leblanc of Chinched Bistro were presented with an award for promotion of local food and Chris Rusted of Manna Bakery accepted the RANL Hall of Fame Award.
Walking away from this incredible event I feel buoyed by the activities of our local farmers and I would strongly encourage everyone to attend From This Rock next year! For further details you can visit http://bit.ly/1d42DGT