A couple weeks ago I hosted my sixth Secret Supper here in Oregon. We held this supper at Alderbrook Station, a beautiful historic boathouse and net loft in Astoria along the coast. This supper’s theme was ‘Noble Rot’— its namesake being botrytus, a fungus that affects winegrapes and essentially ferments them on the vine. These grapes are then used to make a special sweet dessert wine called Sauternes, which we served at this supper along with some other delicious fermented foods (more on that in a bit!) Co-hosting alongside me were Danielle, Christiann, and Mona and Jaret of Tournant, along with our amazing volunteers Alba, Stephanie, Jeanette, Maki, Gwen, Megan, Maril, Kathryn, Elizabeth, and Amanda.
We wanted to take advantage of all of the delicious fall produce that the Pacific Northwest has to offer for this Secret Supper, so for this supper we built the menu around fresh autumnal ingredients and rich, fermented foods. We started off the evening with Christiann’s spiced apple whiskey cocktail, made with delicious local House Spirits Westward Whiskey and Katun barrel-aged rum. For the appetizers, I fermented a beet sauerkraut and served it atop sourdough toasts with Vermont Creamery chevre, toasted pumpkin seeds, and Nature’s Best Garden micro thyme, and Christiann pickled local wild mushrooms and served them alongside fingerling potatoes topped with maple caramelized onions, garlic butter, and Vermont Creamery feta crumbles.
Mona and Jaret of Tournant secured some really special fresh local produce for their menu, which included a rich celery root soup with truffled creme fraîche and freshly shaved trufffles (courtesy of Foods in Season). The soup was followed by an autumn squash and chicory salad, a hearty coq au vin (traditional French country-style Chicken stew) with locally raised pastured poultry from Marion Acres, and a cheese course featuring Vermont Creamery bijou with honeycomb and pomegranate jewels. For dessert, Stephanie and I had made roasted winter squash pies topped with candied spiced nuts and honeyed creme fraîche, using the winter squash from my garden along with maple syrup, vanilla bean creme fraîche, and cinnamon. These last two courses were rounded out with a serving of French Sauternes wine secured from Park Avenue Wines here in Portland, and the first five courses were accompanied by absolutely mouth-watering wine pairings from Willamette Valley Vineyards, including their 2015 Pinot Blanc, 2014 Estate Chardonnay, and 2012 Elton Pinot Noir.
The evening was perfect. The view of the sun setting over the sea, the rustic worn wood plank walls of the boathouse, the smell of comfort food wafting over the tables, and the sound of laughter and new friendships blossoming made my heart very full. I love being a part of these events because it creates a warm and loving community centered around food, which in a way I think reminds me of growing up in my parents’ restaurant. The creation of friendships based around a shared love of good food is a beautiful thing to behold.
We’ve opened ticket sales for our next Secret Supper, Winter’s Tidings, which will take place on February 11th. This supper will be filled with steaming pots of rich and hearty dishes, the sound of muffled laughter being muted by snow, and a trail of footprints leading to a long and food-laden table. You can read more and register via the link below, and can sign up for our newsletter to be notified when registration opens for future events. Hope to see you soon!!
I also want to extend the deepest gratitude to our sponsors, whose generosity helps us to continue to make our suppers possible.
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