This past weekend, one of Canada’s best-known bands played in a barn in the middle of the prairies, remnants of snow still on the ground outside, bison heads and chandeliers hanging from the rafters inside, and a couple hundred very happy guests grooving to the beat with cold beers, gin & tonics and yogurt panna cotta served in wee jars.
Juno award-winning Sam Roberts Band and Juno/CCMA nominated country star Chad Brownlee joined some of Calgary’s best chefs (and eaters) for the first annual Harvest Moon fundraiser in support of Community Food Centres Canada, an organization dedicated to empowering people and their communities to work toward a healthy, sustainable food system. Their work brings people together to grow, cook, share, and advocate for good food; this evening was all about bringing like-minded people together to enjoy it, and each other’s company, in a beautiful setting at the 7K Panorama Ranch just outside Okotoks. Money raised on this particular evening will go toward a Community Food Centre in Calgary, which will help secure affordable food for low-income families, provide healthy drop-in meals and offer a community kitchen and garden for educational purposes.
Dinner in the field before the show was provided by some of Calgary’s best chefs, including Judy Wood from Meez Cuisine, Rogelio Herrera of Candela Lounge and Alloy, Duncan Ly of Yellow Door Bistro and Raw Bar, Paul Rogalski of Rouge, River Cafe’s Andrew Winfield, Glen Manzer and Erin Verba of Cibo and Bonterra, and Cedric Truchon from Boxwood.
“We envision a Canada where everyone has the means and knowledge necessary to access good, healthy food in a dignified way, and the ability and opportunity to be heard on the food issues that affect them,” they say on their website, where you’ll also find The Pod Knowledge Exchange, an information hub that provides videos, downloadable resources, podcasts and modules that focus on distinct areas of the Community Food Centre concept.
When it comes to food, they believe the medium is the message. “Good food has the power to build health and community, and inspire people to become engaged in issues that matter to them. Offering food that is delicious, healthy and pleasurable is a priority, not an incidental.”
Music and food are two mediums that bring people together – this time, it helped others do the same.
Here, fittingly, is the band performing We’re All In This Together from Shapeshifters.
One of my favourite dishes of the evening was a chunk of pan-seared sablefish over braised cherry tomatoes by one of Calgary’s best – and original – female chefs, Judy Wood. She’s the official caterer for the 7K Panorama Ranch – a venue so cool and beautiful, it makes me want to create more reasons to have a fabulous dinner party – preferably with a live band alongside.
While I couldn’t reach her today to coax the recipe out of her, it seemed fairly simple; this is how I would make it, if (when) I ever attempt to recreate it.
Sablefish with Pan-Braised Cherry Tomatoes
Inspired by Chef Judy Wood!
extra-virgin olive oil
4 sablefish filets
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup dry white wine (optional)
2-3 cups cherry or grape tomatoes
a good grating of Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 green onion, thinly sliced
Pour a generous drizzle of oil into a heavy skillet set over medium-high heat. Season the fish with salt and pepper. Add the fish to the hot pan and cook for about 2 minutes per side; transfer to a plate and loosely cover. Add another pour of oil and the garlic to the pan; cook for a minute, then add the wine (if you like) and cook until it has reduced by at least half.
Add the tomatoes to the pan and cook until they start to burst and release their juices. (I imagine you could do this in two separate pans, as I’m sure she did as she served hundreds of people.) Add a healthy grating of Parmesan cheese and divide between four plates. Top with a piece of fish, some pine nuts and a pinch of green onion. Serve immediately.