Many of us aspire to the 100 mile diet. Keeping our food local. Supporting our farmers. But here in Vancouver, have you considered that those farmers, might be a 30-45 minute drive away in Abbotsford, in the Fraser Valley? I was invited as part of the Circle Farm Tour to experience an Abbotsford Harvest Dinner, and was pleasantly surprised by the bounty of food, wine and beer that is available.
The dinner starting with chatting and sampling local beer from Ravens Brewing Company. This brewery just opened earlier this year and collaborates with local growers and suppliers to craft artisan beer. I tried their English Dark Mild. It was indeed dark, with a charcoal and dark malt flavour to it, but not too heavy, so that you can enjoy more food and wine.
The dishes we enjoyed were:
- Campbell’s Gold honey roasted, local delicata squash with pumpkin seeds, Abbotsford goat cheese from Mt. Lehman Cheese (appetizer)
- Maple Hills Farm’s chicken roulade with creamy polenta and kale chips (appetizer)
- Lepp Farm Market’s pork loin wrapped in bacon with savory shallot and plum marmalade (entree)
- Yarrow Meadows’ duck breast with balsamic pearl onions (entree)
- Roasted local beets and parsnips (entree)
- Organic Fraser Valley rice risotto with roasted shiitake mushrooms (entree)
- Birchwood Dairy’s vanilla ice cream topped with Gojoy Berries’ goji berry compote (dessert)
- Onnink’s chocolate blueberry bonbons (dessert)
I must say that it was nice to meet, or have the farmers from Abbotsford introduce themselves to us as we sat at a beautifully set table in the barrel room of Mt. Lehman Winery. Thanks also to Chef Jeff Massey from Restaurant 62 who prepared all these dishes for us.
The farmers supplying our food and drink are:
- Taves Family Farms Applebarn
- Gojoy Berries
- Mt. Lehman Cheese Co.
- Lepp Farm Market
- Campbell’s Gold Honey Farm and Meadery
- Mt. Lehman Winery Ltd
- Birchwood Dairy
- Onnink’s Blueberry Farm
The dishes come from fresh ingredients from the vegetables, to the pork, chicken and duck. A few standout dishes for me were first the honey roasted local delicata squash with pumpkin seeds and goat cheese. Creamy sweetness from the squash, with creaminess from the cheese and a bit of crunch from the pumpkin seeds. The Lepp Farm Market’s pork loin wrapped in bacon was also outstanding for me. The bacon comes from Lepp, and is smoked by them. No artificially aged bacon here. The flavour of the bacon was really outstanding and makes you think about the industrial bacon you buy in grocery stores. No comparison. If you have never tried roasted beets, give them a try. I really like the earthiness of the beets. And the blueberry bonbons are also a very tasty way to end dessert. Good quality chocolate mixed with blueberries. You cannot go wrong with this combination. All the dishes were very good, and I present to you pictures of these dishes for your visual consumption below. If any of this food or wine sparks your interest, drive out to Abbotsford and buy from these farmers.
I must especially thank winery owner Vern Siemens for opening bottles of every white and red wine I think they make, for us to experiment and pair with all the dishes at our Abbotsford Harvest dinner. I in particular liked Mt. Lehman’s Pinot Noir and Unoaked Chardonnay, and felt they made good pairings with many dishes.