Rachel’s Food Tourism- The Herbfarm
Back in September Derek and I went to the Herbfarm for dinner to celebrate our 6th wedding anniversary. The Herbfarm is actually only about a 5-minute drive from our house! This restaurant offers quite the fine dining experience. There is one dinner seating a night and is a 9-course tasting menu with wine, beer or non-alcoholic pairings and is based on a theme. The one we went to was called The Ark of Taste and was billed as “A 9-course dinner of traditional foods in danger of being lost”. It was a fabulous night and we will definitely try some of the other themes in years to come (for a special occasion).
Dinner started at 7, but the restaurant allowed guests to arrive early to walk around the restaurant and also get a guided tour of the gardens. We wanted the full experience so we arrived early. We were greeted at the door with a refreshing punch. There were also bite-sized appetizers and we were encouraged to walk around. The wine cellar was open so we went and looked at that which was really impressive since it was 26000 bottles! One of the owners in there to answer questions and we noticed the room was cooled to the proper temperature for the wine.
There was also fun art and knick-knacks along all of the walls, which was neat to see. Then came the guided tour through the garden where one of the owners told us a little about the history of The Herbfarm and pointed out some of the plants and herbs that would be featured in that evening’s meal. We also got to meet the 2 pigs!
We were encouraged to come out during one of the breaks between courses and feed the pigs some table scraps. We didn’t do it this time, but probably will whenever we go back. 🙂 Don’t worry about the pigs though, they’re not there to be served, they are sort of mascots. If you ever get the chance to dine at The Herbfarm, I highly recommend getting there early to check all of this out!
Then it was time for the actual meal. We were seated and I was delighted to see that the kitchen was open to the dining room and our table was nearby so we could watch everything happening in there! Everyone on the staff from the owners to the wait staff to the sommelier introduced themselves. One of the owners was actually our server for the evening. There was something really heartwarming and egalitarian about seeing the owners “in the trenches” with the rest of the staff.
I chose the wine pairing, but my husband decided to try the beer pairing just to see what it was like. Our table had a little name card on it and keepsake menus with the date on them (I love it when restaurants do that!), which I put in our menu scrapbook.
Ok finally to what we actually ate. Each course had a fun title on the menu so I’ll be using those and also the wine pairing:
Ozette & Friends / Blue Mountain Brut, BC – This was an Ozette Potato Rosti with caviar, a Purple Cherokee Tomato and tarragon salad and soft scrambled Buckeye Chicken egg with basil. This was an amazing way to start the meal. The rosti was like a crispy hash brown patty and was delicious when eaten with a bite of the scrambled egg or the tomato salad. It was like a “choose your own adventure” on the plate. The tomato salad was lively and fresh and the scramble eggs were savory and creamy. The wine pairing was perfect because the bubbles cut through the richness of the rosti but also complemented the acidity in the tomato salad.
Keep Clam / 2014 Cor Cellars “Alba Cor” Meritage White, Columbia Gorge – Although I am generally not a fan of radishes (and this dish had four kinds in it), I still enjoyed this dish. There was a grilled geoduck that was tasty and not at all chewy like I was expecting. The wine was a subtle white that somehow subdued the bitterness of the radishes.
Angelo’s Beanstalk / 2014 Darby Cellars “Le Deuce” Voignier-Roussanne – This course was my favorite of the whole night and that includes desserts! There were Pellegrini Beans that were super creamy and served with wild cauliflower mushrooms and miso made of the same beans but fermented. Who knew the lowly bean could be so amazing! The Pellegrini were creamy and the mushrooms added a lovely earthy flavor with the miso rounding out the dish with some saltiness. The wine was a sweeter white which was a nice contrast to the salty miso and also cut some of the richness of the dish.
Rare, Roy, and Ruby / 2014 Cinder Winery Tempranillo, Snake River Valley – If you weren’t a believer in pairing wine with food and what a difference it can make, this duo would convince you! “Steak” tartare was made out of American Bison and was served with a fried green tomato coated with a corn crust and Cylindra Beets, their greens, grapes and some fennel. While all of the plating was wonderful, this plate was stunning in its presentation. The tartare was perfectly seasoned and the fried green tomato and fresh corn added a nice crunchy contrast. This tempranillo was my favorite wine of the evening (I even added it to my wine wish list on Pinterest, he he). It was smoky and bold but still smooth at the same time. That smokiness was an amazing pairing with the bison. So tasty! I was trying to ration out my glass of wine on this one, but they came by and poured me another glass before I even finished the course which was wonderful. 🙂 I can appreciate a restaurant that isn’t stingy with its wine pairings!
Porky Pair / 2013 Eight Bells Winery Syrah, 8 Clones, Red Willow Vineyard – As I’m sure you’ve guessed, this dish featured two kinds of pork: ham and grilled pork collar served with pearl barley, Wild Nodding onion and roasted carrots. The ham was delicious but my favorite part of this course was the pork collar with barley. It luscious with some fat similar to proscuitto and the barley had a nice chewy texture. The Syrah was a lovely complement to the meaty flavor the pork had. This was the final wine served.
Udder from Another Mother – You could call this our “cheese course”. There was a Mille-feuille (pronounced Mill Foy) which was a thin wafer cracker made of cheese stacked with a Butternut Squash Bavarois (bava wa) which was kind of like a whipped custard. It was sweet and salty and then came with a teensy pitcher of honey that could be poured over the whole thing. So delicious!
The Sumac Three – This was the start of our dessert courses. It was a slice of a 3-layered pie made with a sumac Creme fraiche cake, caramelized milk chocolate and candied hazelnut and quince jelly. It was topped with a sumac whipped cream and was the perfect blend of sweet, rich and tart.
Dessert Turducken / Cocktail of boiled cider, ice cider and American Rye – If you haven’t heard of a Turducken it’s a chicken stuffed in a duck stuffed in a turkey. This dessert version was Saskatoon Berries stuffed in a Seckel Pear stuffed in a fried malasada. It was heavenly! The donut was fluffy but also a little crunchy on the outside since it was fried and the berries were nice and tart with the pear bringing its unique flavor. it was served with goat cheese ice cream on the side and it was divine. That might sound like a strange flavor for an ice cream, but trust me it just worked. The cocktail was sweet and the apple flavor worked well with everything else.
Plant Infusions Melons d’Arc – This was the perfect way to end the meal. This was like a sampler platter of all things melon. There was compressed crane melon, melon leather, canary melon marshmallow and melon pate de fruit. The leather was the best fruit leather you’ve ever had, it somehow tasted juicy even though it was dried. The pate de fruit was kind of like a gummy candy and the compressed melon was an amazing burst of lemon flavor in a little bite. Then there was the marshmallow. I have no idea how they got melon flavor in there but it tasted just like melon! Coffee or tea was also brought at this point. We each got our own French Press of coffee.
We also ordered a special Spanish sherry, the Toro Albala Don PX 1946 Vintage. One of the neat things about going to a restaurant with such an extensive wine collection is that there are a lot of interesting options available that wouldn’t be found anywhere else. There are all kinds of add-ons you can select for your meal. We thought this sherry sounded interesting so we bought a glass to share and they added it in at that appropriate time. It was sweet and thick and had a wonderful aroma of raisins.
What a meal!
Now onto what many of you want to know, how much did all of this cost? Well, it was $265/person. That did include the wine pairing and as I mentioned they weren’t shy about refilling my glass. While it was a lot of money, we felt it was worthwhile and something we will save up to do again.
Have any of you been to the Herbfarm? I’d love to hear about your experience!