Taste of Tulalip celebrated its 5th year this November with a slew of delectable and informative events. From the Magnum Party where Cristal and Petrus was flowing and Celebrity Chefs were mingling, to an intimate Chimay tasting where there was an opportunity to pick the brains of a beer expert, this festival did not fail to impress.
The weekend kicked off with a reception where servers doled out aboriginal-themed appetizers to guests, whetting their appetites for the highly anticipated Celebration Dinner. This dinner was organized incredibly, with introductory speeches that were short and sweet but covered the bases; servers that were diligent as if on duty, but friendly as if relying on a tip; and live entertainment throughout. It was to no surprise that it was sold-out, despite seating more than 400 people.
Lisa Severn, Food and Beverage Director for the Tulalip Resort Hotel and Casino, assumed the role of emcee for the evening introducing the key individuals who contributed to the success of the festival, while giving her thanks. She concluded her speech by handing a $5000 cheque to Megan Karch, the CEO of FareStart, a culinary job training and placement program for homeless and disadvantaged individuals.
Chef Carla Hall, co-host for the evening, graced the audience with her usual exuberance, luring some of the guests up on the stage to shake a leg and work up an appetite for the seven course dinner ahead of them. Hall is known best for her stint as a competitor on Bravo’s “Top Chef”, where she won the hearts of many with her playful personality and quirkiness. She now co-hosts ABC Daytime’s series, “The Chew”.
Six talented chefs, including Executive Chef Perry Mascitti, prepared unique dishes that evening to pair with wines selected by Sommelier Tommy Thompson, who highlighted a variety of local and European wines. Thompson was also responsible for selecting the 120-plus wineries and breweries to be featured in the Grand Tasting on Saturday, which drew in more than 2,000 guests.
From sea to land, the Celebration Dinner showcased a variety of proteins and produce, revealing the expansive opportunities for Autumn flavours and ingredients to shine.
Seafood Course – Chef Brent Clarkson
Caramelized Diver Scallop with hazelnut butter, sweet corn puree, mango puree, green apple butter, asiago cheese twill
A nuance of sweetness from the caramelization and purees matched the earthiness from the butters and was rounded out by the sharp, savoury flair from the asiago twill. Texture, plating and technical skills were spot on.
Pairing: Hanzell Vineyards Chardonnay, Sonoma, California
Soup Course – Chef John Jadamec
The Three Sisters: sweet corn bisque, sugar pumpkin bisque, savoury fried snow peas
This soup was smooth as butter and tasted like the sweet kiss of Autumn. The snow peas were thrown in to balance out the starchy sweetness and interrupt the palate’s adjustment to the natural sugars, as well as to add a little crunch.
Pairing: José Dhondt, Champagne, France
Salad Course – Chef John Ponticelli
Timbale of Dungeness Crab Salad with corn relish, asiago cheese, tarragon, golden pea shoots, baby arugula, red endive, roasted squash, spiral of yucca, asiago dressing
Talk about a vibrantly, beautiful plate! This dish had a lot going on but seemed less cohesive as some of the other dishes; I greatly appreciated the flavours on their own, they just didn’t complement each other per se. Everyone’s palate is different though.
Pairing: Joh. Jos. Prüm Graacher Himmelreich Riesling, Wehlen Mosel, Germany
Fish Course - Chef David Buchanan
Huckleberry Marinated Salmon Tartare with Juniper Berry Globe
This tartare was elegant and seemingly the epitome of a West Coast dish with its piney and fresh flavours and health benefits from the salmon and the juniper berry. The huckleberry marinade saturated the salmon with a deeper red/purple colour, and acted as a sweet binder for the mound.
Fun fact: Western American Native Tribes were known to use the juniper berry as an appetite suppressant during periods of famine.
Pairing: Domaine Serene ‘Jerusalem Hill Vineyard’ Pinot Noir’, Dundee Hills, Oregon
Intermezzo - Chef John Jadamec
Blackberry – Cranberry Granita with Iced Orange Reduction
Pairing: Brasserie Dubuisson Pêche Mel’ Scaldis, Belguim
Main Course – Chef Perry Mascitti
Pepitas – Chile Lamb with Prickly Pear Demi with cedar, azafran micro greens, warm butternut squash salad with orange reduction
Chef Mascitti brought his A-game for this dish: two tender lamb chops crusted with nutritious pepitas (a Spanish culinary term for the pumpkin seed) and starchy blue corn tamales made of cotija (hard Mexican goat cheese), bacon and white sage sauce served in a pungent cedar wrap.
Pairing: Betz Family Winery ‘Pere de Famille’ Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, Washington
Dessert Course – Chef Nikol Nakamura
Coffee Custard with crushed blackberries, toasted holmquist hazelnuts, honey-chocolate tuile
This dissected dessert was a unique finish to the meal with coffee in the dish rather than on the side. The crisp and delicate tuile was great for scooping up the other components of the dish while particularly complementing the custard. The crushed blackberries lent themselves to the supple and lingering mouthful of the Zinfandel Port.
Pairing: Charles Krug Lot XIII Zinfandel Port, Napa, California
Also check out my post on “Getting to the Heart of the Craft Beer Craze in Tulalip”.