The dinner was hosted at Skillet, the modern American diner. Walking towards the Skillet, I knew I was about to experience something quite special - the soft glow of candles, beautiful arrangements of fall flowers and tantalizing smells from the back of the kitchen were there to welcome!
The evening started with mingling over Watermelon Mojitos. If you know anything about me, you know that mojitos are my drink of choice. This Watermelon Mojito reminded me of a summer watermelon slushy - it was nice and thick and I drank it through a straw. I can't guess how much rum was in the mojito, but it was lovely and refreshing, and I had to have more than one.
Next, it was time for dinner. There were about 30 of us - food bloggers, farmers, educators, food photographers and chefs. We came together to share our love and passion for food and enjoy an incredible family-style dinner prepared by Ericka Burke & Heather Earnhardt of Volunteer Park Cafe and Josh Henderson of Skillet Street Food.
While we sampled delicious charcuterie courtesy of Charlie Hertz of Zoe's Meats, Traca introduced all the wonderful people who put together the event. She started with a bit of Food for Thought: did you know that most people consume only 75 pounds out of 1500 pounds of meat? The rest is considered to be secondary cuts of meat. These secondary cuts (think beyond tenderloin and ribs) were the focus of the evening.
The dinner began with BLT Salad with Bacon Lardons and Farm Fresh Tomatoes with Green Goddess Dressing and Shaved Summer Squash Salad with Lemon, Cucumber and Mint.
Tracy Smaciarz from Heritage Meats, a family owned company specializing in " Tracy is featured as one of the best and youngest butchers in Primal Cuts.
I was too busy eating the next few courses (Vietnamese Oxtail Lettuce Cups and Ragu) to be taking pictures. But both were delicious in their own way - the lettuce cups, fresh and vinegary, a perfect bite served in a lettuce leaf. The ragu was rich and hearty, perfect recipe to have on hand for a fall night.
What came out of the kitchen next, was a thing of beauty. A platter of Moroccan Lamb with Cous Cous, Olives and Fennel.
Perfectly tender and rare, the lamb was brought by Linda Neunzig of Ninety Farms who spoke about ethically and naturally raised animals. Did you know that animals are best slaughtered during certain seasons? As Linda explained, the slaughter timing depends on the growth of grass - the optimal time is during Spring and Fall. Most animals slaughtered during Spring are fabricated for the BBQ cooking where the Fall animals are fabricated for braising (think roasts, larger cuts).
And then came the pig. One, whole, roasted pig.
Crispy on the outside, fork-tender on the inside and oh-so-delicious! We devoured the pork, dunking the tender meat into Chimichurri for an extra tang. The stone fruit roasted along with the pig were tender and soaked in delicious juices. Oh, and there was some red wine involved.
The pig came from Crying Rock Farm. Joel Blais made the personal delivery and all of us were so thankful! Joel talked about the way pigs are treated on the Crying Rock Farm "let pigs be pigs" he said. "Pigs have a good life" on the farm. This is a celebration.
As though the dinner wasn't already sweet enough, we saved some room for dessert. The individually plated Fresh Fig Tart with Rosemary Cornmeal Crust and Honey Glaze was a delightful finale. I personally wouldn't have thought of putting rosemary in dessert, but it enhanced the figs and added a bit of a savory taste.
And honey? Oh boy! The honey came from Corky Luster of Ballard Bee Company - Keeping the Bee in Ballard. Corky does urban bee pollination. Say what? He places bee hives in people's backyards - think of that as surrogate for honey. There are currently 60 hives in Seattle and Corky hopes to grow the number next year. Did you know that a worker bee's life is a month long, while a Queen Bee lives about 5 years? More food for thought!
Unfortunately, I have honey issues....Growing up, my parents would feed me honey and hot milk when I was sick. And the memory associations have stuck. As a grown up, I do not consume honey straight out of the bottle, but I did love the Cokry's honey in the dessert and as a glaze for the roasted pig.
How is it that I'm hungry at the end of this post? If you are lucky to live in Seattle, please visit The Skillet and Volunteer Park and support the local vendors.