Harvest Wednesday Dinner

We attended our last of three Harvest Wednesdays this past week. The schedule rotated through Tasting Nights at $12 each, which were cocktail-party style, Buffet Dinner at $38 each, which was pre-set seating and a huge buffet table, and the Harvest Dinner, the most expensive at $48 each – a family style dinner where you sit with strangers, and pass large platters of food.

The event continues every Wednesday at the nearby Gladstone Hotel until September 19th, which is the finale of a 7-course meal for $110 with proceeds of that night going to FoodShare a local organization that sells weekly boxes of produce to low income people.

The premise of Harvest Wednesdays is that the hotel works with a CSA, and Chef Marc Breton pulls together a menu with only a day’s notice. He has an idea of what he’ll be getting based on seasonality and talking to the farmer, but it’s only when the boxes of produce arrive on Tuesday that he can really put together the menu for that week’s event.

The Menu:

Fresh baked bread and cornbread with herb butter rosettes.

Amuse:  Leek and Cauliflower sip with Truffle Essence

First Course: Tomatoes, Melon, Fresh Mozzarella and Shaved Red Onion: mint, extra virgin olice oil and cracked black pepper

Calzone: baked pocket filled with savoury sauteed chard, bok choy, spinach and mizuna

Mains: Organic Beef Cheek a la Basque: braised with tomato, sweet and hot peppers, omion and basil

Harvest Vegetable Casserole: roasted acorn squash, carrot, parsnip, fennel, sweet potato and pearl onions with shitake mushroom, garbanzo beans and Savoy cabbage tossed in an orange-anise glaze

Fresh Herb Egg Noodles: tossed with butter and parmesan

Green, Yellow and Purple Beans: dressed with sherry vinegar and thyme

Dessert: Cinnamon Sugar Plum Cake: Coronation grape swirl whipped cream

I ended up with a lot of beef on my plate because someone at the end of the table dished it up for me and I was too polite to tell him I’m normally vegetarian. The casserole was probably my favourite out of everything, although to be honest, at this time of the year, with so much produce arriving in the CSA boxes, it sort of felt as if Chef Breton was just looking for anything that he could add a lot of different vegetables to. It was a bit overwhelming.

And you can tell it’s coming up to the end of the season; lots of root vegetables and squash. Those are fall foods!

I really enjoyed each of the Harvest Wednesday events I attended – it was great fun to see what we’d get each time, and how creative Chef Breton would have to be to keep each week interesting and exciting. He had beets coming in for about two months straight and yet he kept coming up with different dishes.

For anyone in Toronto – there are still a few weeks left, and I encourage you to check out Harvest Wednesdays while you can. It’s a great way to learn about the wonders of eating delicious local food.