Missing You

Harvest Wednesdays at the Gladstone Hotel started a couple of weeks ago. They did the first tasting event (similar to a cocktail party where all the growers and partners were present so guests could meet the people who grew their food) and the first prix fixe dinner ran this past week.

Normally during the tasting event and during each of the two seatings for the prix fixe dinners, Gladstone Hotel president and owner Christina Zeidler stands up and says a few words about how Harvest Wednesdays came about, how the partnership between the CSA farm and the hotel works every week to get the food from field to table, and about the general principles they try to follow.

Christina was away last week and I was incredibly honoured to be asked to take her place and do the presentation for the two prix fixe dinner seatings. As TasteTO is a media partner for the event, is was a logical choice, but they still could have gone with a Gladstone staff member. There’s an ongoing joke that because Greg and I are there so often and that we know so many people on the staff, and because we’ve been involved with Harvest Wednesdays for a few years now, that we are considered honorary staff members.

In any case, it was flattering, and on the night of the dinner, a little scary. Until I realized that there was only 16 people for the first dinner seating and 10 for the second. Weird to stand up and give a presentation to people so spread out across a large room, but also a little disappointing.

The Gladstone works so hard to promote this series. Chef Marc Breton and his staff bust their butts on the menu, and everyone there really believes in what they’re doing to support local farmers and producers. To see such a small number of faces and so many empty seats made me feel bad. Yes, things tend to be slow for the first few weeks, and yes, it will pick up as more regulars are reminded that the series is running.

But the meal everyone who wasn’t there missed out on. Ohh… what you missed.

Crisp marinated tofu and baby cucumber-tumeric pickle.

Asparagus salad with sweet peas, double smoked bacon, soft-boiled egg, potato cream and meritage red wine vinaigrette.

Red fife fresh herb and asiago cannelloni; handmade whole wheat pasta, ricotta, spinach, chard and tender herbs garnished with arugula olio, green garlic-tomato salsa and shaved asiago cheese.

Free-range baby chicken roasted with herbs and mustard served on sauteed Swiss chard with new carrots and lightly creamed pan juices.

This was a brilliant meal – the red fife flour came from CIPM Farm; Mark Trealout of Kawartha Ecological Growers raises the most chickeny-tasting chicken I’ve ever had. And the dessert shown at the top was a feat of brilliance; strawberry frozen yogurt between crisp meringues, topped with whipped, cream, black currant coulis and strawberries. Surrounded by chocolate lacework.

Chef Marc had this dessert on the menu last summer but every time I ordered it they were sold out. Finally getting to try it was a joyous feat  – totally worth the wait.

Harvest Wednesdays runs until October 22nd. Tasting are $17.50, prix fixe dinners are $48. Tickets are available at the Gladstone Hotel website.