October 17, 2016 Missive from J.K. Farm
There was a tang in the air. The leaves on the trees glowed with their Thanksgiving colours that Andy Goldsworthy finds so fascinating. Chase and I made sure there was plenty of firewood around. We would need to get the wood stove going in the loafing barn Saturday evening for the first time all summer. Victoria wanted the Tom Dean “Mercy” burning barrel close to the entrance so that everyone could see the fire from their seats. Crispy Confit of Pork was to be one of the hors d’oeuvres on the ridge so we needed to burn a fire there too.
Leading up to this ultimate episode of the summer dinner series, I was back in Toronto, making my rounds, procuring ingredients for our menu. I had decided to prepare a special staff lunch inspired by my parents and their 12 year sojourn in Portugal. I remember them being so excited to show me a “Cataplana.” It’s a pounded copper cooking vessel shaped like a clam shell with hinge in the back. The vessel is also used to serve the classic “Cataplana’, a dish of the Algarve that traditionally contains clams and chouriço. I noticed while I was picking up the clams, that the fishmonger was also selling some first rate fresh chestnuts from Portugal. I let my strict rules about local procurement slide when I imagined at once how nice it would be for our guests to enjoy warm chestnuts, roasted over charcoal up on the ridge, as part of the aperitif on Saturday. I imagined that it might be cool and breezy up there too and remembered how well roasted chestnuts doubled as a hand warmer.
The ultimate feast of the season featured a whole pig raised at Thyme Again Gardens. Lori and Lorraine, who both run the farm, explained to me how their pigs are raised on locally sourced organic peas, corn and oats with garlic thrown in for good measure and all the delicious garden scraps they can wolf down. Most of the courses we served on Saturday celebrated this wonderful pig in some way. There was headcheese and crispy confit. Then there was sausage and then, porchetta. We even served some of own tomatoes. They had semi-ripened and we cooked them “a la plancha” with the grilled sausages and local polenta. Norman Hardie again graced our tables with his wines and the feast began.
I love looking at the tables just before we invite our guests to sit down. I pause to take in what Victoria has created along the centre of the tables. I see sunchoke flowers; miniature, more elegant than sunflowers, is a theme as I catch bursts of yellow up and down the tables. How fitting, that in the menu, we have used sunchokes, the rhizome, from that very same plant, as an accompaniment to the porchetta. It is these subliminal connections, these integrated sensual experiences that contribute so profoundly to the uniqueness and fun of this summer dinner series.
It has been a wonderful first season. I could not have hoped for anything better. I want to thank all our guests who came out this summer and filled the spaces around the table. Your appreciation and encouragement inspire us to keep going. A special acknowledgement goes out to my kitchen team led by Anne Rumble and my service team led by Jane Macdonald. Special thanks to the “Land and Garden Centre” led by Victoria Taylor for creating the atmosphere at each dinner. Special thanks also to Jo Dickins who provided all of the imagery and communications on our website.
We have had a wonderful time getting to know our food and wine growers in the community around Prince Edward County and further afield this summer. It has been a distinct pleasure and honour to bring their work to our table. I look forward to delving even deeper into the community next year and to bring excellence once again to the table in 2017. Have a great winter everyone. See you in the Spring!
Saturday October 8th, 2016
featuring Norman Hardie Winery and Vineyard
Hors d’Œuvres on the Ridge
JK Fries with Two Sauces
Head Cheese on Toast
Pâté on Grilled Bread
Confit Pork Belly on Crisp Apple
Steelhead Trout Éclair
Whitecap Sparkling Wine, Hinterland Wine Company
Grilled Sausage with Tomato and Polenta
2014 County Gamay, Norman Hardie Winery, Prince Edward County VQA
Great Lakes Chowder
2014 County Chardonnay, Norman Hardie Winery, Prince Edward County VQA
Roast Porchetta with Cider Poached Apples
2015 Riesling, Norman Hardie Winery
Dave Smythe’s Ontario Artisan Cheese Selection
2015 Cabernet Franc, Norman Hardie Winery
Pumpkin Mousse in Brandy Snap with Mead Poached Plums
Coffee or Tea
Photos from @chefjamiekennedy, @vicvvvic, @leilacourey & @jane_wellington