Wednesday, April 23, 2014

An Earth Day Feast

(Given Farm photo)

It's easy to think of every day as Earth Day when you get to enjoy the bounty that abounds in Santa Barbara County. Just walk the booths of any of the farmers' markets, or even better grow some great produce or fruit yourself and you will know just what I mean--we live in an eater's paradise.

That point will get underscored this Saturday, April 26th at the first ever Farm to Table Dinner at Earth Day from 7-9 pm at Alameda Park. After all the other hoopla celebrating gaia, a group of people will partake in an outdoor pop-up unlike any other. Plus it gives people in town the chance to feast on the food of chef Jeff Olsson, known as the longtime proprietor of New West Catering, whose recently opened Industrial Eats in Buellton has been earning raves (if a bit too far away raves). His eats will be matched with wine from Buttonwood Farm Winery and beer from Firestone Walker Brewing Co., too, so no one goes thirsty.

The evening kicks off with a reception around the gazebo (so wonderful worker bees can set the meal up as partiers look on) that features artisan snacks by Isabella Gourmet Foods (the fine upscale market-almost-deli on Figueroa) accompanied by 2012 Buttonwood Grenache Blanc, Firestone 805, and Lori's Lemonade--lovely local drinks all.

What will follow is Olsson's four-course family style feast (so you have to rub elbows and talk and learn the pleasures of the table).

Course 1: minestrone of white beans, green garlic, and black kale with olive oil grissini (breadsticks, that is), accompanied by the 2012 Buttonwood Signature Sauvignon Blanc

Course 2: little gems with farm egg, crispy pancetta, and shallot-thyme vinaigrette AND Chapala Farms braised mustard greens with charred tomato, fennel, and basil, accompanied by the 2013 Buttonwood Syrah Rose

Course 3: heirloom beets with fresh favas, Drake Farms goat cheese and burnt honey-cayenne vinaigrette AND curry roasted cauliflower with hot chile, sweet onion, and mint PLUS New Vineland bread and crackers, heirloom tomato butter, Buttonwood Farm olive oil and tapenades, accompanied by the 2010 Buttonwood Cabernet Franc

Course 4: spring berry pudding with olive oil cake and Rancho La Vina walnut cookie, Green Star coffee

"With our festival theme this year of Local Roots, we wanted to drive a conversation around locally grown food," says Sigrid Wright, Earth Day Festival Director. "Our global food system is incredibly intensive in terms of water and energy, and yet three times a day we all have the power to make choices that are better for the planet. Eating locally grown, in-season food is one way to make Earth Day every day." (OK, maybe someone influenced my lead to this blog post a tiny bit.)

"We also wanted to create something at Earth Day that helps stitch the fabric of community," Wright continued. "Putting people at a table to literally break bread together is very powerful. The farm-to-table dinner is about giving thanks for the abundance of our region, exposing people to an exquisitely designed vegetarian-friendly menu, and ultimately building community."

Tickets are being sold for $60 a person and guests must be 21 or older. For info, check out the CEC webpage.

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