There’s literally nothing finer than eating under the stars, and while many of those occasions for me revolve around a tent or two and likely some fish we just hauled out of the lake, this night was remarkably different and extraordinarily delicious. I was invited to steal to a seat at the first ever Feast in the Forest, an inaugural dinner kicking off the summer celebrations that have become Wayhome.
While my festival trotting days are mostly over- I prefer camping with my kids these days versus camping with an onslaught of sweaty strangers, I was struck by both the concert venues as well as the mega sized Ferris wheel, art dotted throughout the spaces, a giant barn/bar erected out of seemingly nowhere and just the vastness of the event itself. Funny how the little things can make you feel so small.
The devil is in the details and clearly he was on point tonight. No detail too small, no corner was left bare. A massive tent appeared out of nowhere, with twinkling lights and a beautiful table setting- it almost felt like a wedding, except that we were united at one long magnificent table. Campari & Soda’s were a perfect thirst quencher and ice breaker, with brooding hunky servers decked out in leather aprons on-hand/demand with refills should you require.
Eats and treats were as delicious as the stunning scenery, with notable wine pairings with each offering. As the sun tucked under the clouds to make way for a blanket of stars, we prepared ourselves for each course- a meaningful way of connecting with our fellow diners (or strangers as it were!) comparing flavour profiles and getting to know one another over the very basic shared interest that unifies us all: food.
The first course, poached oysters with leeks in a rich creamy sauce were spot on with Lovebot Grand Cru. A quick census tallied that while most of us are oyster lovers, there was the odd eater who wasn’t as inclined, which after a quick nudge, they realized that poached oysters were beyond delicious- the texture of the uncooked variety had scared them off far too long.
A simple and much celebrated dish, hummus quickly followed. Engaged in both the effortlessness and ease of the dish, we rallied around Anthony Rose and his crew as they toasted pitas on the fire, before hand delivering them out for us to use as the perfect vehicle for scooping up the goods. Paired with a fired up charred red hot chilli pepper, another conversation was brought to life- do you find the dish spicy? Another memory relived, another story shared and our partnership in dining gaining momentum. Wine pairing was the Italian Nebbiolo, Rosso della Motta 2013.
Building in excitement, each course gets us closer to the pig roast finish line. But before, a delicacy of the cow variety, beef cheeks are paired with white strawberries, a beautiful and seasonal garnish that amplifies the chefs creativity. Well matched with Bravado from Garcia + Schwaderer, 2014.
With the sun tucked in for the night we knew things were reaching their peak, and with a hush over the crowd, the pig platters arrived. Large family style boards with tender suckling pig were the star of the show, although the sides were a very close second. Scallion pancakes + corn tempura + fois gras fried rice were slam dunks- the corn tempura was my favourite- crispy fried kernels that were addictive- salty and crunchy- a wonderful side with rich pig. A rose wine- Rosamara- Costaripa was a lovely pairing.
Desserts were more than a sweet finish, but a celebration and a social shareable experience. First, a group of chocolates arrived, artfully created by chef and chocolatier Brandon Olsen of CXBO. A second round of desserts proved there really isn’t such a thing as too much of a good thing…A massive slab cake that must have been 5 feet long was presented, I LOVED the family style presentation, unexpected but again, so key in the social atmosphere of the evening. With LCD Soundsystem doing a final sound check we bowed out, with cocktail roadies in hand- set loose in the Wayhome village, and while we were stuffed and slightly tipsy, I wished we could linger longer. The summer season is a short one, but moments like this will pigment my views of summer of 2016, casting a semi-permanent glow- just like my fading tan.
Huge thank you to the Charlie Burger team for an unforgettable evening!