Joy Road Alfresco Dinner and Grilled Local Asparagus recipe
I just came back from another fabulous dinner event at God’s Mountain Estate in Penticton, a dinner catered by the incomparable Dana and Cameron of Joy Road Catering. These signature events they call alfresco dinners are held throughout the season (May to October) at the B&B overlooking beautiful Skaha lake. This evening it rained when we arrived and Dana and her team set the long table under cover on the porch overlooking the lake, so we were still outdoors and still had the view. The weather soon cleared and half way through dinner they set another table on the grass under strings of lights and we finished the dinner there.
If you live in the Oakanagan or are visiting this area I urge you to try one of these Joy Road dinners. In addition to the great food there is Chef Dana, a warm, hospitable and friendly young woman who summons us to dinner by the ring of a bell. When was the last time you were called to dinner by a bell? The table was set with crisp white linen and sparkling glassware. A few freshly baked loaves of fougasse were interspersed along the table, each with its own bowl of fruity, lightly spicy olive oil, ready for us to break bread together. Garden flowers including poppies and peonies added a touch of colour to the otherwise all white table setting.
It has become a tradition for Dana to read from her lovingly worn Alice Waters book The Art of Simple Food a short essay as a dinner prayer. Eat seasonally, shop at farmers markets, plant a garden, cook simply engaging all of your senses, cook together, eat together, remember that food is precious. Learn where your food and wine come from and how they are produced. Seek out a diverse variety of fruits and vegetables from small local producers who take care of the land. Eat seasonally (and heck drink seasonally Dana ad libs). Get to know the people who grow your food. Food should never be taken for granted. Amen.
The menu included roasted asparagus and carrots and I thought I’d post a recipe for grilled asparagus with this post. I grilled mine on an outdoor grill but it can be also roasted in a 400F oven if you don’t want to work on a grill. I served it with a hazelnut vinaigrette and a scattering of toasted hazelnuts.
I hope you enjoy.
1 bunch asparagus or as much as you need
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 tablespoon agave syrup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon hazelnut oil
1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, rough;y chopped
Trim asparagus about 1/4-1/3 way up from the bottom.
Toss the asparagus with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
Grill method: heat up the grill to medium high, lay the asparagus in a single l;ayer over the grill and cook, turning as needed, until the asparagus is lightly charred and cooked through. you may have to move it around the grill so it chars on all sides.
Oven method: arrange asparagus in one layer on a baking sheet lined with foil. Grill in a 400F oven until golden and cooked through, about 10 minutes, but you have to watch it. Thinner spears may cook faster than the thicker spears.
Remove asparagus to a platter and add a little more salt as needed.
To make the dressing:
Combine mustard, balsamic vinegar and salt in a small glass.
Add the agave and blend it in.
Drizzle the oils into the mustard mixture and mix until thickened and emulsified (or place in a small jar with a lid and shake vigorously.
Add 1/4 of the hazelnuts to the dressing and mix.
Arrange asparagus on a platter.
Scatter remaining hazelnuts over the asparagus.
Drizzle with the dressing just before serving.