I spent the day at Fort Rodd Hill in Victoria yesterday, attending Defending Our Backyard: the 3rd Annual Island Chefs’ Collaborative Local Food Festival and Farm Fund Raiser.
Big mouthful, eh?
Not as big as the one I had all afternoon – enjoying a feast of local, seasonal and sustainable food. And drink. Did I mention the drink? There was a lot of drink.
The ICC is a growing community of Vancouver Island and Gulf Islands chefs raising awareness and funds to support local farms and sustainable agriculture. The day was an opportunity to meet local food producers and chefs and sample fresh island seafood, meats, bread, fabulous cuisine, ale, lager, porter, wine, cider, mead, port and a couple of other alcoholic beverages I’ve forgotten in the haze of the afternoon.
I told you there was a lot of booze.
Lucky for me, Jill, a Pender friend, was driving. I got to try them all.
We wandered the park in the drizzling rain exploring, tasting and discovering.
The find of the day for me was a beautiful unrefined sea salt which is hand harvested locally. The Vancouver Island Salt Co. also had their Maple Smoked Rock Salt on hand for us to try – a finishing salt with deep flavour and a sweet scent.
Andrew Shepherd is a chef and the craftsman behind these artisanal salts. It’s a new venture, and sure to bloom quickly. I have a feeling Andrew will be spending even more time in the tidal waters near Cobble Hill…
The best booze award (sorry no photo) goes to the Oak Aged Gin from Victoria Spirits. Howard and I enjoyed a bottle of their gin not too long ago, but I must say, this oak-aged stuff is on a totally different level. A dram of that after my dinner, but before my coffee, everyday for the rest of my life, please and thank-you very much.
Tastiest meat product has to be the 18 month-aged prosciutto from Ottavia Bakery & Delicatessan (top photo). The accompanying house-made bread sticks made exceptional delivery devices.
Favourite offerings from local chefs included the organic seafood tamales above, the duck burgers with pancetta jam and dandelion mustard on a brioche-type bun being assembled below on the left, and a unique and TASTY halibut ceviche (no photo), marinated in local apple cider vinegar & verjus and served on a blue-cheese crisp — delicious – and my best bite of the day.
Many thanks to the ICC for a foodie-filled afternoon of tasting, learning and connecting. I hope we raised buckets of cash to help keep the local food movement alive. It`s gathering momentum — positive, fun, family-friendly events like this are rocketing us towards exponential growth — and we`re going to get our food systems back where they should be. Right here at home.