Note: This article was previously published on http://www.thevenuemag.com
How lucky are we to live in a part of the state where the concept of bringing your food straight from the farm to your table is easily achieved. I often take for granted the fact that you can start anywhere in Grant County and drive for ten miles or so and stumble upon at least one or two fields- whether it be potatoes, corn or onions. You’re also just as likely to drive past a dairy or a pasture full of cows in those ten miles. And while a lot of what Grant County produces ends up elsewhere, quite a bit stays local. You can find fresh fruits and vegetables at our Farmer’s Markets in Ephrata and Moses Lake, at smaller stands set up at busy intersections, or from the garden of someone you know—a neighbor, coworker or friend. That kind of access to local produce is something you just don’t get in other places. I have always loved coming up with meals from scratch using local goodies, (ask me about my strawberry stuffed french toast or my yummy bruschetta) and so nothing makes me happier than seeing others do the same- whether its in their own home or on a larger scale.
The crew at the Steakhouse at Moses Pointe put together a nice spread using all local ingredients for their Farm to Table celebration. I’m talking four mouthwatering courses, each featuring Eastern Washington commodities. We started off with a vegetable ragu, made with roasted tomatoes, leeks, sweet peppers and fresh herbs, served on garlic crostini. The vegetables for this course, as well the vegetables for the salad in the next course, were sourced from Cloudview Farms in Ephrata, the sister farm to the Cloudview EcoFarm in Royal City. I had the chance to visit the Ephrata farm a couple of years ago, and I’ve been a huge fan of what they’re accomplishing since then. The Ephrata farm grows their crops without using chemical fertilizers or pesticides. And the Royal City farm is certified organic. They make their food available to the public at local farmer’s markets and through weekly CSA (community supported agriculture) boxes. Cloudview also hosts children’s field trips and other farm-based education and community events. Jim Baird, the founder of Cloudview Farms, said he’s seeing an increase in people who are looking for a deeper connection to how their food is grown and harvested. With all their outreach efforts, Cloudview is definitely one place to turn to for that deeper connection.
The Pointe stayed true to the Farm to Table concept for their main course as well. They used locally raised beef from the Rathbun Angus Ranch, a family owned operation in Moses Lake, to make their Northwest Bourguignon. The dish paired top sirloin and prime rib (yes, you read that right top sirloin AND prime rib on one plate) with a delicious red wine sauce. They served that with fresh vegetables and roasted fingerling potatoes. Speaking of red wine, the dish went extremely well with Milbrandt Vineyards’ Brother’s Blend. I’m a big fan of red blends and the Brother’s Blend was right up my alley with notes of vanilla, cocoa and spice. Milbrandt Vineyards, which is based in Prosser, grows a lot of their grapes in Grant County. Butch Milbrandt was at the Farm to Table dinner with samples of their 2012 Brother’s Blend and Granache and their 2014 Estates Chardonnay (which I hear has already sold out). Yakima’s Bale Breaker Brewing Company also had samples of some of their new brews at the dinner.
We wrapped up the evening with live music and a nice, warm heirloom apple tart topped with fresh cream. The cream was sourced from a Grant County dairy, proving that you can use local ingredients in even the tiniest ways in your dishes. While I don’t think I’ll be tackling a four course dinner anytime soon, I have been inspired to bring more local ingredients into my kitchen more often. How about you? What kinds of dishes will you make with our local products? Be sure to share your creations with me!