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Experience Culinary Nirvana

Farm to table meals reveal the best of the region’s farms.

Sixteen different vendors — from vegetable and flower farmers, to crafters of cheese and candle makers. That’s what it can take to create a sumptuous, five-course, beautifully presented meal where every single ingredient is locally sourced.

Caterer and personal chef Courtney Bourasaw puts on several Farm to Table dinners at farms in the region from June through October. At $150 a plate it’s not a cheap affair, but it’s like none other. You can eat mostly local in some restaurants, choosing from their fresh sheets and looking for menu descriptions that provide the source. But it’s a near-impossible feat for a restaurant to source 100 percent local, day after day, meal after meal.

Courtney manages it twice a month by traveling to every single farm to source everything from pastured chickens, to organic kohlrabi. She prepares the ingredients with reverence, treating them simply. Kohlrabi is peeled, sliced, and seasoned with salt, pepper and a little oil before it’s grilled. Her diners rave about it. 

Via Courtney, locals and visitors experience every farm, through word and taste, as she serves course after course, paired with local wine. 

“You can’t tell people,” Courtney said. “You have to taste it.”

“And,” chimed in Rachel Piggot, sitting with Courtney under the shade of a Douglas Fir tree on a breezy August day, “people have to value it.” 

Chef Courtney & farmer Rachel.

Rachel, owner/farmer at Island Harvest Farm on Camano, was taking a break from her daily routine. A summer day’s work is sun up to sun down. Rachel’s pant legs were caked with mud, and her hands stained the color of the soil. Her smile radiant.

She has a customer who drives to the island all the way from Everett nearly every week, and another from Arlington. Many find her at the Stanwood Farmer’s Market. Look there for her heirloom Rockwell beans come September and October. 

Courtney manages the meals twice a month by traveling to every single farm to source everything from pastured chickens, to organic kohlrabi.

“Whether it’s my farm stand or another, these exist for people if you don’t want to garden, but you want to eat from the garden or supplement what you grow,” Rachel said. 

“I am not a gardener,” added Courtney. “I also don’t get any joy out of it. It’s not something I love. But it’s important for me to eat things that are picked fresh and local. I know I need to connect with Rachel. A big thing for me was I want to get to know every single farmer before I use them. My farmers I have used for the last four or five years — I have been to their farms, I understand their processes. I wanted to educate people on how they grow.”

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As much culinary nirvana as educational opportunity, the Farm to Table experience is unforgettable, and is always capped with a tour of the farm on which it takes place. Diners take it all in under sunshine, surrounded by rows of pumpkins, and hoop houses teeming with cherry tomatoes at Island Harvest Farm, where it all began.

Courtney’s first Farm to Table dinner was a family and friend affair, as she and Rachel trialed the idea three years ago. Today, she puts on one or two dinners a month at local farms.

In August you can experience a meal at Island Harvest Farm on Camano Island (Aug. 13), and at Hazel Blue Acres (Aug. 20), a blueberry farm in Silvana. Karen and Spencer Fuentes turned a historic dairy into a blueberry farm in 2008 when they planted around 13,000 organic blueberry plants.

Piggot said the hazelnut cake with Hazel Blue Acres blueberry cream frosting was “amazing!” And truly, all blueberries pale in comparison to a ripe, plump organic berry grown locally.

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In September, visit Stanwood’s dreamy Happy Hollow Farm, with views of the Silvana valley, for a Farm to Table meal (Sept. 17), and find a Farm to Table Social Hour (half the price, with heavy appetizers) back at Island Harvest Farm (Sept. 30).

The final dinner of the season (Oct. 8) is back where it all began on Camano. The closing October dinner always has a Halloween theme, Courtney said. “It’s so much fun!”

Courtney and Rachel walked the farm as the sun lowered in the late afternoon sky. Standing in front of rows of squash — acorn, then spaghetti, then delicata — the two reminisced on past meals.

“Do you remember that smoked chicken and bean stew, with the Rockwell beans, served in half of roasted delicata squash?” Courtney asks.

“Oh, yeah. That was the best ever. It was soooo good!” Rachel responds. 

Another day on the farm. Another meal to look forward to.

Photo credit: Tracie Howe Photography, except photo of Rachel and Courtney which comes courtesy of the author.


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Ellen Hiatt
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