In an effort to bring people closer to their food, The Refinery in Seminole Heights, in cooperation with John Matthews and the farmers of Suncoast Food Alliance, held its first ‘Farm to Fork’ event last Wednesday, May 4th. And according to Michelle Baker, co-owner, it won’t be the last of its kind.
It started at 6 p.m. with a small meet-and-greet between the farmers and approximately 30 guests. It involved an assortment of hors d’oeuvres, including some hella-good pheasant deviled eggs.
Around 7 p.m. we were asked to take our seats and Baker, along with Matthews introduced the farmers responsible for providing the foods in the five-course meal we would be eating. They recognized Pam Lunn of Dancing Goat Dairy, Shelby King of King Family Farm, and Rebecca Krassnocki of Nature Delivered for taking initiative, working hard, and "not cheating", as Matthews put it. Greg Baker, co-owner and chef, was very humble in admitting that he had little to do with the way the food came out, passing credit onto the farmers.
Matthews recalls a time where farmers were known to collaborate, instead of compete as you often see now in that industry. His function at Suncoast Food Alliance is to satisfy the demand for locally-sourced products by facilitating connections between farmers and food establishments, who would otherwise struggle to make extra time.
The fruits of their labor:
The first dish was a unique combination of potato soup, sweet corn ice cream, and a spoonful of Siberian sturgeon caviar, which came from Mote Marine (located only 10 minutes outside of Sarasota). The conflicting temperatures were certainly confusing but it worked — after a few scoops and clinks, the snifters were empty and taken away.
The first and second courses were spot-on: A pork and rabbit terrine that lends itself to dinner, but hints it would be just as lovely as a late night snack, perhaps with some bread and spicy mustard. It was paired with crisp string beans and okra pickles and followed by smoked goat cheese with juicy heirloom tomatoes. To cleanse the palate, a refreshing, deep, pear-tomato sorbet was provided.
The sturgeon served as the entree was flaky, not overly fishy and not too fatty. It was, however, very salty due to the rock salt coating, thus overpowering the flavor of the fish.
Dessert was a blueberry-garnished goat cheesecake with almond crust and cardamom. Yum!
The dinner ended around 9:30 p.m. The staff was introduced and "thank yous" were issued, followed by strong applause. I'm sure I'm not alone in saying I left with a full belly, conscious mind, and deeper appreciation for fresh, organic food and how it comes to be.
- Potato soup, sweet corn ice cream, Siberian sturgeon caviar.
- Pork and rabbit terrine, pickled vegetables, goat's milk yogurt.
- Pear tomato sorbet, heirloom tomato carpaccio, caper, peach, smoked goat's milk cheese, cherry tomato-mint salad.
- Slow roasted sturgeon, 'raw-tatouille', fingerling potato confit, verjus, mint.
- Goat cheesecake, almond crust, cardamom, blueberry.