We find ourselves walking down a dirt road with the faint sound of laughter and joyous conversation growing ever so slightly louder. As we approach with loaded anticipation a line of barrels cut in half are smoldering to our right, tents are filled with various tasty libations to our left and a small band drapes the seen with the velvety sound of smooth rock.
First order of business is seeing just what the smiling faces are offering under the tent to our left. On the table we see jars with an alluring green liquid, Northern Lights. A local cocktail concocted from Jax Fish House with Old Town Distilling Vodka, Lemonade, Cucumber Puree, Drumroll Pale Ale and Native Hill Basil. For me any cocktail with cucumber is gonna catch my fancy, and this one did not disappoint. Refreshing and just slightly tart it paired extremely well with the oysters offered alongside. As we worked on our second Northern Lights, servers emerged from the prep tent carrying trays with some interesting appetizers proudly displayed atop. We enjoyed many tasty treats from Jax Fish House including Tomato and Yuzu Gazpacho with Cucumber Kimchi, Crab Tater Tots with Arugula Aioli and Smoked Trout piled on top of Beet Chips and Crème Fraiche. The problem with this is we could have eaten about a hundred of each and soon we found ourselves resisting the temptation to pluck any more of the tasty morsels from there perch.
As appetizer hour was being wrapped up and everyone around was glowing a little from the cocktails, we were directed to the long family style dinner table. The backdrop of the farm and the foothills conjured up feelings of a fairy tale land where all the people from town gather at a huge table and share a feast foraged from the ever giving land around them. Soon we were seated and exchanging pleasantries with the folks around us. We enjoyed a very tasty salad made by Jax Fish House with Native Hill spicy greens, quatrix lola rosa (still not too sure what this is), carrots, pickled beans and walnuts all gently blanketed with a roasted fennel vinaigrette. This paired extremely well with the Zard-Alu Sour Apricot from Odell Brewing and provided just the right transition to the main attraction, the Salmon.
Remember those barrels set ablaze earlier? The glorious pink salmon filets were placed on long steaks and were angled just above the flaming barrels to impart a natural smoky wonderfulness that can’t quite be described in this short blog. The beautiful mountains of salmon were accompanied with Bacon Braised Collard Greens, Potato and Turnip Au Gratin and Chilled Ramen Salad creating an eating experience rivaled by few. The feeling of community was overflowing all around us. There is just nothing quite like sitting at a giant table with large platters of glorious cuisine being passed all around.
Just when I didn’t think it was possible to put any more food inside my bulging belly, the Farmers Cupcakes arrived. Chocolate Beet, Carrot and Blue Hubbard Squash… Holy moly were these just the right touch to top of an already fantastic experience.
As this was only the second annual Harvest Moon Salmon Bake we can only hope there will be many more to come and that we are lucky enough to share in this old world way of connecting with the people and community around us.