This year, Hastings House Country House Hotel and Dining Room on Salt Spring Island welcomed some of the best Chefs from across BC for the dinner series, Chef’s Across the Water. The fifth and final dinner in the series was held on Monday, October 18 and the hotels very own Executive Chef, Marcel Kauer took to the kitchen to prepare the five course dinner.
The dinner took place in the original manor house, which was converted into two guest suites on the upper floors, and a wonderful and cozy dinning room and lounge on the lower floor. What makes the atmosphere so inviting is the charm and character of the building. The original exposed wood beams and rock quarried right on site give the room warmth and personality. The crackling wood burning fireplace in the period-dated hearth warms the room, and the table is set with delightful dinnerware and antique silver flatware.
“Our focus of this year’s Chef’s Across the Water is to target food enthusiasts,” said Chris Parks of Hastings House. “Everything is locally grown and produced, and the majority of it is organic.”
There was a pre-set menu. At each course our server would pour the glass of wine, explain where it came from and provided some tasting notes; the same went for the course selection – we were explained what was being featured, how it was prepared, and what we could expect.
- Wild pacific salmon tartar, parsnip chips, fir tree honey and parsley oil
- 2005 Blue Mountain rose brut
- Caramelized Onion and Apple bisque, goat cheese crouton
- 2009 Salt Spring Vineyard blattner white
- Seared local pine mushrooms, bright farm leek, orchard pear and smoke albacore tuna ragout
- 2006 Mission Hill S.L.C. sauvignon blanc/semillion
- Grilled Salt Spring Island lanb, rosemary rosti potatoes, grainy mustard jus
- Hot Hastings House garden quince souffle, Grand Marnier creme anglaise
- 2008 Elephant Island apricot
Chef Kauer explained how the organically grown Salt Spring Island lamb is shipped off-Island to be processed and then brought back to Hastings House the same day where he ages it for 10 full days in their cooler. My expectation was that the lamb would have the traditional taste of free-range lamb – very earthy and almost gamey. The taste was very much the opposite. It was perfectly prepared, allowing the natural juices combine with the fresh rosemary; giving is a beautiful taste. And because of the organic environment and the careful aging process, it was extremely tender.
Being from the Okanagan and having visiting many BC wineries over the years, I have come to appreciate BC wine. The wines throughout the course of the evening were all very good. I was very surprised how much I enjoyed the 2005 Blue Mountain Brut; I feel the Okanagan hasn’t yet mastered Brut, but clearly they are on their way to making adjustments to produce better products. A meat and cheese plate would have gone wonderfully with the brut.
I also felt that some of the pairings of wines were a miss on some of the courses. For instance, the tuna ragout would have paired much better with a chardonnay than the semillion; and the softness of the souffle with a heavy syrupy late harvest riesling.
By the end of the meal I felt extremely content. Chef Kauer clearly demonstrated he had exceptional knowledge of the use of local herbs, vegetables and especially the Salt Spring Island lamb.
“Next year Hastings House is looking to expand to host six or seven dinners in the Chefs Across the Water series,” said Park.
Partial proceeds from the Chefs Across the Water program will go to the Save Salt Spring Island Lamb fund.