Tuesday, August 23, 2011

West Coast Summer Dinner Party

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Hold on to your hats kids!  What we have here is a good ol’ fashioned West Coast crab boil!  Well actually I guess it’s a bit more new school than ol’ fashioned…just wait and see the side dishes and accompaniments!  We started with the idea of local crab and expanded to include a whole dinner party a la terroir.  Local, local, local!

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This Sunday evening I assisted Michael in hosting dinner for friends of his all the way from Southern France.  In fact, the hubby is Italian…the wife is British…and their seven year old son can already speak three languages.  We couldn’t let them visit Vancouver Island without serving up some of our favourite local foodie delights!

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On Saturday we ran several errands to ensure we had a wide variety of West Coast eats and treats for our guests.  Fresh baguette and country bread (as well as crackers and crisps).  A lovely plate of smoked Pacific salmon and trout from Shawnigan Lake (both smoked by a buddy of Michael’s).

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The Victoria weather completely cooperated so we were able to host our whole afternoon/evening out on the deck.  While the sun was still shining we sat around sampling crisp, cold wine and nibbling on the bread, fish, multiple cheeses and fresh pate.

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From our Salt Spring Market adventureMoonstruck Organic “Savoury Moon” and “Blackberry Blue” cheeses.  We picked up a wedge of Hilary’s Artisan “Red Dawn” to round out the cheese tray.  Alongside this we served two pates from Choux Choux Charcuterie:  Duck & Cranberry Terrine and Porcini Mushroom Pate (soooo smooth, definitely a hit at the table!).

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We sped through the first couple of bottles of wine so quickly I didn’t capture photos of everything.  Sun + wine loving friends = speedy enjoyment!  The Mistaken Identity we brought back from Salt Spring were certainly the favourites of the day though.  Yum!

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After we had a chance to digest our snacks, bites and sips we moved onto the main course.  In order to save time on shopping and cooking, and to offer a professional level of local foods, Michael enlisted his good friend Claude to make a few dishes to go along with the crab.  Claude was a professional chef in a former life and now enjoys cooking as his hobby.

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Quite the hobby!  He prepared everything for us to pick up Sunday morning and had everything soooo organized!  Heaven for me!  :)  Each dish was packed up with labels and he provided us with an instruction sheet as to how each item should be served and heated. 

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Dish #1 - Beet Salad Three Ways

o Diced Roasted Cylindra Beets and Raw Angel Hair Red Ace Beet, Served with a Fresh Herbs Salad, Drizzled with a Apple Cider/Honey Dressing, Topped with Beet Chips…

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Dish #2 - Kale Timbale

o Oven Baked Winterbor Kale, Fresh Herbs, Shallots, and Garlic, Served in a Cream, Romano, Parmesan Sauce…

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Dish #3 - Swiss Chard Rolls à ma façon

o Braised Giant Fordhook Swiss Chard Leaves, Stuffed with their Stems, Served with a Roasted Garlic, Sun Dried Cherry Juliet Tomatoes and Fennel Sauce…

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Dish #4 - Potato Nuggets

o Deep Fried New Yukon Gold Potato Puree…

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You guys!  This was all so lovely, amazing, delicious and so fun to work with!  I just adored how each dish was packed separately but when I followed Claude’s directions everything turned out looking like he had been there to serve it himself. 

FYI:  those potato nuggets are danger on a pan, and I could have licked the romano cream sauce container clean all by myself.  Deeeelish.

While I puttered with the side dishes Michael stayed outside entertaining the guests and preparing the main event.  Hello Crabby Crabbertons!  Welcome to our dinner plates little buddies.  :)

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This is where things got messy.  Hard to hold a camera when you are elbow deep in crabby goodness and garlic butter.  Crab ain’t dainty!  But it was delicious and I swear the conversation may have stopped for a solid half an hour while we all dug in and enjoyed every bite.  Such a treat for Michael’s European visitors!

Now don’t you worry that I didn’t contribute a menu item of my own.  You know that my almost-famous Creamy Citrus Tart definitely made it’s way to the table...

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Seemed appropriate since it’s crazy yummy and the first time I served it was at the Shrimp Boil where Michael and I met.  Clearly we like to boil seafood and eat lemon-lime tarts.  Whatever works, eh?  :)

With our desserts (yes, multiple) we wanted to offer something a little different to drink.  After perusing a few options we chose this Coastal Black Raspberry Dessert Wine.  It comes from just up island and we thought it was a fun option being as it’s a fruit wine, not a grape-based wine.

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Syrupy and sweet, it accompanied my tart very well.  As an added bonus, it also paired with our second dessert.  Yes, second!  We couldn’t very well turn Claude down when he included a dessert option created entirely from his own garden.

Dish #5 - Fresh Berry Sorbet

o Strawberry Sorbet, Served with Fresh Blackberry Coulis, Fresh Mint, and hand crafted Almond Wafers…

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(he seriously even halved and sliced the strawberry garnishes for us.)

I had already taken the photo before remembering the Almond Wafers.  The amazing, delightful, slightly crispy, totally delicious almond wafers.  Nom.

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To finish the meal Michael made coffees with Irish Cream since it was now far into the evening and the breeze picked up.  There were a few songs on the guitar and a snoozing seven year old before we decided to call it a night.  If only the boys did not have to be up at the crack of dawn for the beginning of their business conference it’s highly possible we might have gone for dessert #3 or wine #6.  :)

Now please excuse me while I go check my bank account to see when I might be able to commandeer Michael’s deck and host a dinner party like this of my own…

…or at the very least whine and cry for him to cook me more crab.  Stat.

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6 comments:

Shirls said...

Holy! That seriously looks like something from a super high end restaurant, totally impressive

Christy said...

Wow, that is one impressive looking meal! What a great dinner party :)

H-woman said...

I think I'm in love with Claude!

=)

Lynn's Life said...

WOW! Now that is one hell of a dinner party! :) Everything looked lovely, resto quality!

Jessica said...

Wow.. that's an incredible feast!! I'm impressed!! I bet those guests will never want to leave! haha

Roz @ weightingfor50 said...

In a word, WOW! What an amazing dinenr. (I'm so wanting a spiral cutter!!!!!)
All the best for your Wednesday.