Anything to do with agriculture and local food has always been a favourite excursion with us, and a recent trip to Innisfree Farm in tiny Royston proved, once again, that you can’t go wrong with that combination.
Located on a pretty side road in the small community just south of Courtenay, Innisfree Farm was hosting its first farmhouse dinner featuring all local ingredients (most of them grown organically right on the property). The fact that the food was being prepared by Cumberland’s Gourmet Girls Global Catering was a draw for us too – we have greatly enjoyed their interesting and flavourful fare at other venues. And the price – well, $35 for an innovative four-course meal certainly made it affordable.
The other thing we love about these events is the surprise element – you never know who you will be sharing a table with. When 25 of us sat down we found ourselves surrounded by a best-selling cookbook author, a house painter, an itinerant house sitter and a variety of other interesting characters.
We arrived early at the farm and, with encouragement from owners Chanchal Cabrera and Thierry Vrain, spent some time wandering among the raised vegetable beds, tasting the thriving still-sweet autumn raspberries, and enjoying the flower and apothecary gardens and the planted labyrinth. There is a pretty pond area and a sculpture garden to enjoy as well – all very serene and the perfect opportunity to free up your mind and relax a bit prior to sitting down for the meal.
As expected, the Gourmet Girls did not disappoint – the meal started out with beautiful and tasty amuse bouche, followed by a roasted squash soup with house-made flatbread crisps. These were followed by the passing of many family-style platters piled high with everything from fire-roasted beets served with a warm crabapple, nettle and horsetail vinaigrette to salad to olive oil-poached wild sockeye salmon. The dessert combo consisted of chocolate cashew fudge, crisp churritos with house-made red wine grape jelly drizzle and Chantilly cream topped with the aforementioned lovely fresh raspberries. Other than the salmon course, the meal was totally vegan. All of it was delicious and very interesting, which for us is one of the hallmarks of great food.
While creativity was running amok in the kitchen there was much good cheer and an energetic vibe in the dining area. Those attending shared stories and lives while Chanchal, Thierry and members of the Gourmet Girls team brought out platter after platter of tantalizing food and elucidated about what was on them.
The evening was one of those unforgettable events where good cheer, great food and a lovely atmosphere all collided in a perfect storm to provide memories that will sustain us through the impending gloom of winter on the ‘wet coast’. And here’s the good news – Innisfree has scheduled at least two more of these affairs for October and November. There can’t be a much better way to banish the winter blues.
Further information on Innisfree Farm and the many events it offers can be found at the website:
Innisfree Farm is located at 3636 Trent Road in Royston, about 5 kilometres south of Courtenay
GPS co-ordinates are:
Lat. 49.6347774 Long. -124.95208869999999
N 49 38.087 W 124 57.125