Farm-to-table, locally sourced and seasonally mindful dining is far from a fad. It’s become a part of many diners’ rhythmic vocabulary, and increasingly so, a wonted expectation. For reasons legitimate (e.g. sustainability) or otherwise (e.g. it’s the “foodie” thing to do), it’s a no brainer that enviro-socially conscious noshing is here to stay.
I don’t know about you but I still feel a disconnect with my food. I recognize farm names, wineries, and even obscure local varietals but the significance is muted. Maybe, just maybe that’s because I next-to-never venture out to meet the folks that produces what ends up on my plate. The skytrain doesn’t travel that far.
As the local food movement keeps trucking along, I’ve learned a few accessible ways for urbanites to get to know the people behind our food in B.C.
- acquaint with the farmers, wine makers, and artisans on the self-guided Circle Farm Tours
- shop at our local farmer’s market and take time to talk to the vendors
- use the handy Foodtree app to track and share local food
Recently, I learned of another way to connect with our local food producers in an intimate and authentic setting. Chef Adrian and his wife Shannon invited me to a Gumboot Dinners at their restaurant, Seasonal 56. Once a month, the space is closed to the public. Food and wine lovers gather to share a meal with nearby farmers and wine makers along a communal table. Served family style, each dish highlights the products that the guests of honour grew and supplied.
Building relationships is at the core the Gumboot Dinners. Chef Adrian introduced the producers among the guests as his “kind of people”. His pet peeve is pushy sales people that barge into his restaurant with a food catalog in hand, and I can see why. On the contrary, he respects those that have dropped off food for him to try and allowed the products to speak for themselves. If the quality measured up, the chef then showcased the goods on his menu and left out the the fuss. Doing business on a handshake has come full circle.
Because he knows each ingredient’s provenance, Adrian humbly resisted the temptation to take credit for how “fresh” his food tasteed. Granted, the uncontrollable “mmm” and “oomph”s around the table were telltale enough. From the pheasant and tomatillo salsa canapé with a Southern kick, to the smoky-charred squab breast decked out in mulberry jus and fresh morels, down to the chewy ginger cookies that sandwiched a velvety squash ice cream, the progression was exciting, yet sensible. Each cozy dish prodded us to indulge a tad more, and more, and more on the chilly Autumn evening.
In fewer words, (muffled chomps) “can’t talk. Eating”.
That night, I chatted leisurely with wine makers, vegetable farmers, and even poultry farmers. (Luckily for me, my favourite flyers were on the chopping block: pheasant, squab, and quail from Thiessen Farms). As much as we enjoyed rambling on about food, my most memorable conversations were simply those on random life stories. For example, I won’t forget how David of Glorious Organics Co-op that supplied our robust salad greens has to tend to the garlic plants alone because his wife cannot stomach going near them during her pregnancy. Too cute.
I also marveled at admirable, but not uncommon stories such as that of Mt. Lehman Winery’s proprietors. They grew up in Abbotsford and are in the real estate industry but opened their winery out of passion for the craft alone. Deep inside, we all harbor a longing to pursue our true passions, even if it’s not within our realm of expertise. With a lot of planning, hard work, and a bit of luck, the couple demonstrated that it is possible. Their beautiful wines, such as their luscious pinot gris from just around the corner, were testaments of their earnest dedication.
When questioned about the restaurant’s obscure, industrial location (which we drove past and circled back to), Chef Adrian explained his credo to keep the prices low, even if it meant sacrificing a downtown location with more food traffic. He desires to show that dining out at a sustainable establishment can be an affordable affair. The Gumboot Dinner’s pricing reflects just that. The copious dinner with wine pairings is priced competitively at $60 per person (or $50 for diners club members).
If Langley feels like a bit of a hike for city-dwellers, check out their designated driver program, which gives us even more incentive to take the petite road-trip.
Keep scrolling down for more delectable photos of our rustically elegant dinner. Much like dinner at grandma’s, the soulful dishes kept on rolling out, each unique and equally comforting. Except here, the wine flowed much more freely.
#201-26730 56th Ave, Langley BC