If you went into the kitchen a couple of hours before GrowGood's first farm dinner, you'd see stacks of dozens of glass and plastic containers, many of them baffling little collections of fermented this or pickled that, dried this or fresh that.
Over the course of the evening, chef and GrowGood farm hand Eric Tomassini used all of them and more for a multi-course dinner that challenged and delighted the tastebuds of everyone lucky enough to be in the rustic room at Cottonwood Farm, a homestead in Panorama City that hosted our feast.
In dish after dish, GrowGood's produce shined. Onions, greens, herbs used to their best advantage. Guests were greeted on the farm's patio with a soda made from blood orange and bear lime juice, before heading into the dining room.
The meal began with “small bites” and beer donated from LA-based brewery Dry River Brewing and wine from Foot of the Bed Cellars. The “small bites” included a complex rice chip with fermented and charred Tohono O’ogham L’ltoi onion dip, a rye, citrus and radish tart as well as a farm crudite, featuring lettuce, carrot, nasturtium, rapini flowers, red-vein sorrel from GrowGood.
Next, Eric served a “turnip both” from Golden Ball and Shogoin turnips, which were dried and smoked to create an intense broth. Sitting half-way submerged in the broth were orange slices and cooked turnip pieces as well as a green strawberry providing a sweet bitterness that wonderfully complement the richness of the dish.
Eric’s “Farm Salad” followed. The salad, dressed with a nasturtium vinaigrette and featuring a seven different greens from GrowGood’s farm was given a crunch and an additional kick of flavor with roasted romaine roots in a romaine root miso sauce and lettuce capers.
Following the salad, Eric served his “Carrot Curry.” The dish showcased GrowGood's carrots that were roasted, poached, and fermented and then placed on top of a beautiful bed of green fresh herbs with a curry made with citrus and almond milk.
The final entree was a pork dish featuring pork from Peads and Barnetts, a farm that raises free-range heritage English Berkshire pigs in North San Diego County. Eric prepared the pork with braised red cabbage, a sauerkraut salad, and pine oil. The dish was accompanied with shaved turnips and wilted cabbage from GrowGood’s farm.
Finally, dessert! A refreshing yogurt and citrus palate cleanser sweetened with wooly curls oil from GrowGood was served with a tea prepared by Farmer Corinne featuring dagga and blue lavender. A chamomile caramel cookie accompanied the tea providing a perfectly sweet end to a wonderful evening.
Stay tuned for the next GrowGood dinner, which will likely be in early May. :)
By Brad Pregerson and Mary MacVean