HTCC Barn Dinners Showcase Pacific NW Bounties
There’s a beautiful turn-of-the-century big red barn located in rural Creswell, Oregon, where spectacular Barn Dinners bring together the best of the Pacific Northwest through food, wine and community. These rustic yet refined dining experiences are like non-other.
This is not the first time I’ve raved about the magnificently impressive Heidi Tunnell Catering Company (HTCC) Barn Dinners, nor will this be the last. Each dinner is a different experience with outstanding family-style meals created using seasonal ingredients from local, organic and sustainable farms. From the appetizers to the dessert, each dish is thoughtfully paired with a wine from a featured Pacific Northwest winery.
Last summer, I attended the September Barn Dinner that featured local winery Domaine Meriwether’s sparkling and still wines with a Paella dinner that was cooked over a fire-pit in a giant Paella pan. Barn Dinner guests watched the steaming Paella cook to perfection over the open flame which was just outside the barn where dinner was served. The stellar food and wine along with the entire barn dinner experience was unforgettable.
This year, I attended the first Barn Dinner of the summer season in early June, featuring wine from Trust Cellars out of Walla Walla, Washington, and beef from Northern Lights Christmas Tree Farm out of Pleasant Hill, Oregon.
For starters, Chicken Sausage on Hazelnut Parmesan Crackers and Braised Beef on Grilled Bread topped with Salsa Verde were paired with the Trust Cellars 2010 Riesling. Although each of the appetizers were filled with delicious flavors that paired oh-so-well with the Riesling, the mildly spicy Salsa Verde atop the moist and tender braised beef on grilled bread was down-right scrumptious with the ever so slightly sweet flavors of honey and peach in the Riesling. Appetizers were casually served while guests could mingle and listen to live music, stand outside and watch the culinary team in action, or relax on the back deck with gorgeous pastoral and rolling hill views.
Once the next course was ready to be served, guests took their chosen seats at the long, beautifully decorated dining tables. First to come to the table were baskets of fresh baked HTCC Ciabatta rolls along with a deliciously creamy house made butter. Crusty on the outside and soft on the inside, these rolls were heavenly. The first course, a Roasted Beet Salad with Grilled Artichoke, Arugula, Roasted Onion and Strawberry Vinaigrette, arrived while our wine glasses were filled with Trust Cellars 2011 Rosé of Cabernet Franc. I’m a huge roasted beet salad fan, but this salad stood out from any other I’d ever had. The fresh complex flavors of the salad melded together in harmony with the watermelon and honeydew flavors of the Rosé, creating pure bliss.
For the main course, different cuts of beef, prepared in different ways and cooked over wood, were served with a demi glace and delivered to the table on large platters so guests were able to choose the cuts of meat they preferred. Sides included Sauteed Greens with Garlic Chips – cooked over an open flame in the giant Paella pan – and Roasted Turnips, Grilled Carrots and Spring Onions. Trust Cellars 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon was served with the main course, and it’s dark fruit flavors along with the toasty, smoky and mushroomy nuances were a perfect pairing with the beef and fresh vegetables.
Last, but definitely not least, dessert was a decadent Bittersweet Chocolate Tart with a Strawberry and Wine Reduction Sauce. The wine reduction sauce was made using the wine that was paired with the dessert, Trust Cellars T.A.T.T. T.A.T.T. is abbreviated for Tried And True Table wine, which is a hearty, spicy and dark fruit flavored red blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache. Each bottle of T.A.T.T. has a label designed by a tattoo artist, and each time a new T.A.T.T is released, a new artists tattoo art is featured on the label. As much as I enjoyed the art work of the bulldog on the label, I enjoyed the wine, and I loved that Heidi Tunnel spiced things up with an unexpected pairing like this. What was even better was the fact that the pairing was exceptionally ambrosial.
From grass-fed beef and fresh picked vegetables from the Willamette Valley of Oregon to wine grown and produced in Walla Walla and Columbia Valley of Washington, enjoying the many bounties of the Pacific Northwest in a big red barn is one unforgettable experience.
To contact the very talented professional photographer Cliff Etzel, please visit cliffetzel.com.