Sunday Best at Oyster Beach
Okay, we admit it. In the Okanagan, we are simply spoiled. Spring comes early and April calls for afternoon gatherings to be moved outdoors.
On April 13, Editor Tarynn Parker hosted "Oyster Beach" at her beautiful home on the water in Summerland as a bit of a warm-up for the Osoyoos Oooyster Festival April 23 – 27. Oysters were generously sponsored by The Codfather's Seafood in Kelowna. Jon Crofts and his family have truly made sustainable seafood enjoyment what it is in this valley, bringing products of the utmost integrity, most often bearing the OceanWise*™ seal. Thanks to the Crofts.
The day could not have been more gorgeous with blue skies, sunshine and a beach fire, more for ambience than warmth. It was truly one of those “pinch me, I must be dreaming” experiences… perfect in its simplicity.
Good old-fashioned picnic tables set for 20 guests with mini daffs, cotton towels, beach-worn rocks and wood, were all that was needed for a Sunday afternoon with friends old and new. An eclectic lot of bon vivants we were, representing wine, farming, agricultural science, culinary and visual arts and all passionate about supporting farm-to-table and respecting the environment.
Oysters? Bubbles? Yes!!! What better way to start the afternoon than with bubbly sabred off the dock? A personal favourite of mine and a blade from Mark at Knifewear did the trick (dull side of course!) A superb selection and abundant supply of bubbly sustained us through the afternoon: Haywire’s The Bubwith Mike West in attendance, and an unreleased Summerhill ’08 Ariel with Ezra Cipes on hand to do the honours as well as Blue Mountain Brut and their Brut Rose. Other wines were poured by Ezra and Mike as well as a gorgeous pouring of his newly released '13 Viognier by Tyler Harlton of TH Wines.
The main event – Quadra Island Beach Oysters from Codfathers – cold-smoked by Chef Jason Leizert at Salted Brick Kelowna, cooked over the fire on a hand-made grill fashioned that morning by John Rousseau of Okanagan Block Co. While one chef in the house is good, two are seriously better! John and Chef Matt Batey, conferred on the proper breading technique for oysters and once agreed upon, the cast iron skillet turned out batch after batch under the watchful eye of Wee (Oui) Chef Charlotte Batey. The results were the to-die-for Oyster Po’ Boys, organic Stout Beer (Crannog Ales) Baguette from Quail's Farm in Enderby, organic coleslaw made from Greencroft Organics cabbage, and Northern Divine caviar mayonnaise á la Miz Tarynn will long be remembered. The oysters were giant in size and you really just needed one but they were too delicious to resist... and this was a celebration afterall!
John Rousseau's Clam Chowder came next. As we finished off the Po' Boys the chowder simmered on the fire. "This chowder is my secret family recipe. Sorry I can't share it. I will say, it's been there to bring lovers together, and even bring them apart", said John. Powerful stuff… this is what a fisherman's dreams are made of.
A salad of local organic spring lettuces from Green City Acres Urban Organic Farm via friend and guest Curtis Stone, was lightly dressed and served. In the words of Umberto Menghi, salad comes as a peacemaker between courses leaving just enough room for dessert - an entry for personal favourite to eat and to prepare...
… Pound cake with Grand Marnier-poached Apricots and lightly whipped cream was sublime and I give all credit to Bon Apetite magazine for this wonderful recipe. I have long been in search of a killer pound cake recipe and this was it.
With feasting complete John, our man for all seasons, brought out his guitar and serenaded those on the beach. Mark Puttick "wielded the awesome Knifewear swords" for the knife nerds in all of us with a culinary bent… seeing these, one might create said culinary bent just to have one of these blades. Brave Miss Charlotte B tip-toed in the lake sparkling under the Okanagan sun and the bocce court swung into action.
This month's Sunday Best at The Field Guide's home was truly a spring memory that we will hold in our hearts for years to come.
By Debbie MacMillan
Enjoy Editor Tarynn's photo essay below and peruse our list of friends in attendance :)
Friends in Attendance
Aman Dosanj - Poppadoms Taste India - Partner & Cook
Mark Puttick - Knifewear, Manager
Curtis Stone - Green City Acres, Urban Farmer
Ezra Cipes - Summerhill Estate Winery, CEO
Rio Branner - Rio Branner Designs, Fashion Designer
Mike West - Okanagan Crush Pad, Tasting Room Manager
Tamara Richardson - Agricultaral Scientist
Tyler Harlton - TH Wines, Vintner
Matt Batey - Chef
Charlotte Batey - Wee Chef
Jiri Bakala - Ascent Films, Film Maker
Julia Bakala - Ascent Films, Film Maker's Assistant
Debbie MacMillan - Event Co Ordinator
John Rousseau - Okanagan Block Co, Master Woodworker
Jason Embree Good Omens Coffee House
Jamie Embree - Good Omens Coffee House
Christian Brandt -Okanagan Carshare Co-Op
Tarynn Liv Parker - The Field Guide
Jody Bruce - Artist
Top left - Jon Crofts, The Codfather and Junior Codfather, Tom, Farmer Bill and below Rob from the Kelowna Farmers' and Crafters Market supply produce, Green City Acres pictured bottom left, where Farmer Curtis Stone tends one of several of his urban farm sites.
The event creator Debbie MacMillan - left, and Co-Creator Tarynn Liv Parker to right, with the hero of the event, John Rousseau pre-shucking a few 'gems'.
The event was put together with vintage dish ware, flatware, baskets, pails and found beach drift. It was a decidedly blue and "Field Guide Yellow" theme with the punch of ultra springy seasonal forsythia to mark the change to a warmer brighter season.
Guests arrive and where there wasn't acquaintance, it was quickly made, especially by the welcoming act of Debbie's customary first sabre-ing of the sparkling wine for the greeting toast.
Chef John Rousseau fireside and on the grill he custom built for the event, with his "Co - Chef" Matt Batey to help make the Po' Boy Oysters.
Let the oyster-eating begin!
John's Clam Chowder takes off any hint of a chill there could be from the last of winter at the beach.
The Field Guide's real raison d'être - to see the ideas and people of the community come together. Synergy at its finest :)
Debbie's Pound Cake, because you are paying attention, here is the dessert recipe !
As the Sunday afternoon unfolds, some sharing of skills, (knife especially) and some sporting bocce commences.
All the guests were well fed and satisfied, and most headed home for the evening, while a few of us stayed behind, for the "RAW AFTERPARTY", namely Aman Dosanj, John Rousseau, Mike West and host Tarynn. We shucked and slurped up the 60 odd raw oysters all from Outlandish Oysters, including, Gems and Kusshis all paired with Aman's indian inspired mignonettes made from vindaloo brine & a cucumber gin take on a Poppadom's cocktail. The finish was made with Jody Bruce's homegrown horseradish.
We hope you are inspired for spring and the outdoor dining opportunities it brings. We will see you at Oyster Fest on the weekend!
The Field Guide