It’s not every day that you find giant canisters of liquid nitrogen and elaborate sous vide cooking equipment on a bucolic fruit farm.
The occasion was Saturday’s “Peaches & Tango: A Dinner in the Orchard” at Frog Hollow Farm in Brentwood, an evening of gourmet eats, live music and tango dancing performances by Trio Garufa. Proceeds benefited the Chez Panisse Foundation.
Yours truly served as emcee for the fun event, which marked my first time visiting this incredible farm.
The evening kicked off with a short tour of the 133-acre organic farm, which grows outstanding olives, cherries, apricots, pluots, nectarines and some of the most incredible peaches you will ever taste.
Farmer Al Courchesne joked that the farm is 36 years old — younger than its best customer, the 40-year-old Chez Panisse in Berkeley; and older than its most famous customer, Apple in Cupertino.
Dinner was outdoors in the orchard at long tables set with candles, peaches and plums as decorations.
Under a nearby tent, Blais worked with a small crew to prepare the four-course dinner, then took to the stage before each dish was served to describe what he had made.
Luscious pork belly with a velvety peach-cauliflower sauce was cooked sous vide with an immersion circulator that had to be borrowed from Spice Kit in San Francisco just for this event.
The highlight for me was the first course of chilled hamachi, “fried chicken” and smoked aioli. Imagine slices of hamachi done crudo-style with slivers of the best, crunchy fried chicken skin topping it with delicate julienned radishes. The pairing might boggle at first. But it works. Soft with crisp, clean with fatty. Amazing.
As for the liquid nitrogen? It was used to make the dessert of ice cream scooped into homemade cones.
Dinner on a farm has never been so trendy.