Last night the CSA that I belong to, Fairview Gardens, held a cooking and feasting event to celebrate the summer full moon. On a not very frequent basis they hold these informal outdoor dinners that combine a cooking class with the appreciation of the ingredients of the farm and the camaraderie of people who share a love of sustainable food. So last night, chef Laurance Hauben of Market Forays shared with us her decidedly French take on cooking with fresh, seasonal ingredients. Laurance is a well known figure in the Santa Barbara food scene. She has written for a number of local publications and her cooking classes are extremely popular. Her philosophy toward food is the perfect fit with what Fairview Gardens does, so when I heard about this event I know I had to get involved.
Along with three other volunteers, I arrived a little over an hour before the event to offer help. Laurence probably could have easily pulled off the whole meal without help, but she was happy to have our company in the kitchen and gave us some prep work to do. As we all worked, Laurence chatted about her background in food. Though she grew up in northern France in Flanders, she has traveled all over and has made Santa Barbara her home since 1983 (interestingly enough the same year I moved to Santa Barbara). In addition to preferring the weather here to her native France, she clearly loves the ingredients. Quality, fresh ingredients are central to her cooking, so it is no surprise to hear how much she loves Fairview Gardens.
For the guests, the evening started out with a tour of the farm, and they had the opportunity to pick some of the ingredients that would go into the finished meal. Then it was into the farmhouse kitchen where Laurance effortlessly coordinated this ambitious menu and got everyone involved in the preparation:
Heirloom Tomato Caprese Salad with Burrata Cheese
Mesclun with Roasted Figs
Charentais Melon Drizzled with Port
Fresh Halibut Tartare with Avocado and Grapefruit
House Smoked Pork Tenderloin with Honeyed Peaches
Butter Sauteed Fresh Corn and Fresh Green Beans
Roasted Zucchini, Peppers with Garlic and Homemade Goat Cheese
Stuffed Tomatoes with Basil, Parsley, Garlic and Breadcrumbs
Homemade Rolls and Grilled Flatbread
Peach Tart Tatin
Just as the sun was setting we all sat down at a long table with a view of the fields and right on cue the full moon rose. Tiffany Cooper, Fairview's Education Director and organizer of these events read us a description of the 'Corn Moon' from the book "Full Moon Feast: Food and the Hunger for Connection" by Jessica Prentice. The combination of the incredible food, the beautiful setting and the like-minded people gathered together was truly magical.
More (food!) photos in the extended entry.
Laurence puts the final touches on the Halibut Tartare
Stuffed Tomatoes alongside the Smoked Pork
Sauteed Buttered Corn and Green Beans
Delicious layers of Roasted Zucchini, Peppers and Goat Cheese
The Fig Tart right before it goes into the oven
The making of the Peach Tart Tatin: halved peaches, placed cut side down in a cast iron skillet, puff pastry tucked over them after they have carmelized, a delicious finale to our meal.