Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Dining locally in Winter








Last week was my husband’s and my 30th wedding anniversary. We might have gone on a Caribbean cruise to celebrate, but John decided to surprise me with a stay closer to home at the Black Walnut Guest House in Sturgeon Bay (www.blackwalnut-gh.com). He knew this would be a good fit for us, because, as we try to live sustainably, we are assured that the Black Walnut is also striving for sustainability, being a Travel Green Wisconsin business (www.travelgreenwisconsin.com). Some of the best green practices proprietors Geri Ballard and Mike Shatusky include are use of only non-toxic and biodegradable cleaning and landscaping products, recycling, and minimization of disposable products. A note on the wall in the bathroom states that if we feel we can reuse a towel, we can hang it back up on the rack. Towels left on the floor are fair game for the laundry worker. This practice saves water and energy and reduces the Black Walnut’s contribution to pollution and global warming.

What a surprise to learn that a romantic dinner for two at the Black Walnut was planned for us. This was a very special arrangement, because the dinner needed to accommodate my commitment to the 100-mile Food Challenge that I have been following since mid-June of last year. To find local ingredients for a five course meal in February could be daunting to most cooks, but Judy Samida and Guy Fortin, the chefs hired to cater the meal, are savvy about local supplier. They also have been following the local foods guidelines in their own shopping and eating behaviors. Following is the menu which was cooked in the Black Walnut kitchen and served to us beautifully presented in our private dining room by Guy in full tuxedo.


Appetizers – cherry juice, onion and sun-dried tomato tartlets
Squash ravioli in a b├ęchamel sauce with hickory nuts
Spinach and onion salad with hot bacon dressing and dried cherries. This was garnished with heart-shaped croutons made with Washington Island wheat flour.
Pork tenderloin and potato/asparagus gratin.
Dessert was a strawberry/raspberry sorbet with whipped cream and more dried cherries.

Guy and Judy introduced innkeeper, Geri, to Amy Stich of Cherrydale Farm on County P, Sturgeon Bay. Amy has been supplying 100-mile Food Challenge participants with fresh salad greens, spinach, and eggs during the winter months. She also has stored some of her produce, such as carrots and potatoes, garlic and onions, and these are also currently available for sale at Cherrydale Farm. Geri shopped at Cherrydale Farm to provide us with a beautiful local foods breakfast. Geri said, “It was fun and I enjoy being creative”. Here is the breakfast menu Geri devised.

Carrot/apple juice
Honeycrisp apple parfait with cherry syrup and cream
Cheese omelet with shallots and greens
Roasted fingerling potatoes

I was personally thrilled with the whole experience. There is no need to consider living sustainably, including making a commitment to eating local foods, a hardship. We can live well and do good to the environment at the same time.

Suppliers:

Hyline Orchard, Fish Creek (cherry juice, apples, dried cherries)
(920) 868-3067, http://www.hylineorchardfarmmarket.com/

Cherrydale Farm, Sturgeon Bay (spinach, eggs, carrots, potatoes)
(920) 743-5546, astich@itol.com

Greens N Grains, Egg Harbor (Island wheat flour)
(920) 868-9999, http://www.greens-n-grains.com/

Door County Custom Meats, Sturgeon Bay (pork)
(920) 746-0304, http://www.dcmeats.com/

Roder Farms, Sturgeon Bay (potatoes)
(920) 743-5306

Renard’s Cheese, Algoma (cheese, cream)
(920) 487-2825