Last night, we hosted a 25-mile dinner. What, you may ask is a 25-mile dinner? If you have ever heard of the 100-mile diet, it is of similar concept in that all the food served comes from within 25-miles (as the crow flies) of the winery. We do this type of dinner on occasion to highlight the wonderful diversity of El Dorado County.
Last night’s dinner (September 21, 2011), was wonderful. The first thing we did right was to get a fabulous chef, Sandra Simile. This type of dinner is challenging for chefs in that they will not know exactly what is in season until days before the event. The other challenge for any chef at Madroña is our kitchen…a set of burners and a BBQ for cooking. So, not only do you not know what type of food will be available, you also have limited cooking arrangements! Thank goodness for Sandra’s skill and rock solid personality, as we came up against several of such hurdles within hours of the dinner!
In getting ready for the dinner, Sandra visited in Mid-August, where we were able to provide fresh blackberries, plums, and peaches for a chutney. We were also able to procure onions and carrots for stock. Finding locally-grown meat in El Dorado County was more challenging than we thought it would be. On our previous dinner, we had a bit more advanced notice in that we were able to attend the El Dorado County Fair and purchase a 4H steer. In this case, we found that many of the local meat purveyors got their meats locally, but further than 25 miles from our winery. We did finally find a chicken, port tenderloin and bacon from Stony Farms Meats.
The next challenge was sourcing all the other ingredients for the meal, which Sandra had provided a nice long list! We found these foods from wonderful growers all over El Dorado County. And if we couldn’t find them at the Farmers Market or from a local grower, usually someone’s back yard spice garden would work just fine! And finally, a wonderful new addition to El Dorado County is Jollity Farms, a goat cheese producer.
The day before the event, we hit a couple of snags! First, the wrong meat was delivered (pork loins instead of tenderloins). Although the butcher offered a couple of other options, the quantities and cuts just couldn’t work for 24 people. And there were no other available local tenderloins to be had. The challenge here was that pork tenderloin can be done on a grill, while pork loin needs to be roasted. oooops. The next challenge was that although we thought we had lined up butternut squash for soup, it was not ripe yet! Yikes, switch gears, find corn and chilies locally, add some walla walla onions (for sweetness), and we have an amazing soup! For this process, we can not thank Sandra enough for being so flexible and inventive!
Our final menu was as follows:
Roasted Corn and Walla Walla Onion Bisque
with Poblano Chili Cream
(2010 Signature Riesling)
Mixed greens with heirloom cherry tomatoes, fresh goat feta,
and red-haven peaches with citrus dressing
Herb encrusted, bacon-wrapped grilled loin and tenderloin of pork
with apple, plum, peach chutney
Steamed fingerling potatoes with parsley and chives
Grilled summer squash and eggplant
2008 Signature Cabernet Franc
Jollity Farms Farm House Cheese and fresh-goat-cheese
stuffed figs with wild-flower honey and walnuts
2007 Signature Zinfandel
Madroña Select Harvest Riesling
Poached Pears with
Riesling-Pear Caramel Sauce
and Candied Orange Peel
2008 Select Harvest Riesling
So add to this menu a long banquet table set up out in the vineyards while watching a beautiful sunset turn into bright sparkling stars, and you have a amazing evening compliments of El Dorado County.
However truly we could not have done it without these local growers! Please support them next time you are at the Farmers Market or looking for farm fresh produce!
Gold Bud Farms, Perez Red Shack, R&P Farms, Cardanini Pumpkins, McGee Christmas Tree Farm, Hooverville Orchards, Stony Farm Meats, Peters & Peters Farm, Jollity Farms, Smokey Ridge Ranch, California Olive Oil, Coloma Gold Honey, Boa Vista Orchards, Bob Mann Farm, and Fudge Factory.
Also, a great big thank you to Mary Dedrick of Dedrick’s Cheese Shop on Main Street, who helped source so many of the items and hours of driving on our behalf! We could not have done it without you Mary!