With all the wedding hubbub, I didn’t want to plan anything extravagant for my birthday so Matt and I just made reservations (our third try, after a series of failed attempts) at La Quercia. But then Swallowtail and Butter on the Endive teamed up to create a “Supper on the Lake” event. Two seatings for a 5 course dinner at an undisclosed location (on a lake! on my birthday!) for $69 was not a hard decision to make.
The undisclosed location turned out to be the Baldwin House on Deer Lake in Burnaby. Built by architect Arthur Erickson in the 1960′s and run by the Land Conservancy it a gorgeous house decked out in full 70′s decor with blown glass ashtrays and taupe lampshades. We sat on the deck drinking prosecco and watching the sun set until dinner was ready and it felt almost like we had been invited back in time to a swank dinner party.
In addition to being amazing, the dinner was to feature several wild-harvested ingredients. For the first course, Owen prepared a baked Beaufort oyster with stinging nettle that Robin of had picked and preserved lemon butter. We paired it with another bottle of bubbly and neither of them were around long.
The next course hadn’t looked all that stunning on the invite – fava bean and prosciutto croquettes – but it turned out to be one of my favorites. These crunchy, creamy snacks were accompanied by wild harvested watercress salsa verde and pickled ramps (a wild green onion). The balance of flavours between the greens, the cream and the Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc captured “spring” just exactly.
Seared albacore tuna with wild dandelion greens and smoked olive oil on a smear of romesco was good but unmemorable compared to the stuffed chicken leg that followed it. We had opened two Rieslings by this time – a newer one and a 2005 Chateau Ste Michelle Eroica Riesling – and let me tell you, I don’t even particularly like chicken and I will be dreaming about this course for a long time coming. The chicken legs were stuffed with a black trumpet mushrooms and chicken liver mixture and served in a roulade with the most amazing sherry jus. It was rich and sultry and complex – the jus was apparently made with a pig’s foot – and I came close to licking my plate, swanky pad or no.
Our bellies were hurting from so much laughing and eating but when the rhubarb clafoutis tart (served family style) arrived for dessert, Cliff had to take it away from the table to photograph it. I’m not normally a fan of dessert either but the tartness of the rhubarb was a match for the late harvest merlot and the homemade green walnut liqueur that we shared with our neighbours as an peace offering for our loudness.
What a great night. Best birthday ever – until next year.