Monday, April 16, 2012

Dinner in the Orchard - with Ricardo! He's a peach of a guy.

There's no denying it - the man is a Peach! And he shared his peach recipes too.

(Photo courtesy of Robert Orr)
In an open-air pavillion at Kurtz Orchards in Niagara-on-the-Lake, celebrity chef, Food Network star, cookbook author and magazine mogul Ricardo Larrivee (just plain Ricardo to his fans) talked about his love for Niagara.
Ricardo's latest cookbook
The Pictures are as tasty as the recipes.
"You 'ave somet'ing very special 'ere," he announced in his charming french-accented english.
Many women in the audience swooned.
He told us how he had just returned from California and how he found the Niagara Pennisula to be so much more warm and friendly, more authentic.
"And you 'ave all of these wonderful fruits and vegetables, and the superb wine growing area. This is unique, what you 'ave 'ere."

We applauded loudly, not because we didn't already know that, but because it is always nice to be told you are wonderful.

Ricardo was here as part of a special dinner and cooking demonstration designed to showcase the peach, now in full season in Niagara. In the pavillion, Ricardo demonstrated a peach and chicken starter (See recipe below) and a peach and raspberry ganache dessert, while the audience sipped a crisp 2008 Private Reserve Riesling from Peller Estates.

After the demo, guests walked out into the peach orchard where one huge long table was set with white linen and flowers for a five-course peach-themed dinenr.

The Longest Table in a Vineyard
The starter was a country terrine with a peach chutney, followed by a roasted peach salad with goat cheese and maple vinaigrette. Then came a marinated rainbow trout fillet with peach scented escabeche of Niagara vegetables, peach stuffed breast of chicken, and dessert was a roasted shallot and thyme biroche french toast, with peach sorbet and stewed peach coulis. Each course was paired with a different wine from Legends Estate.
Menu for a Peach-Themed Dinner in the Orcard
As the light faded, torches and lanterns illuminated the orchard, and music played. Afterwards, guests were given a basket and sent out to the orchard to fill it with perfect tree-ripened peaches.
Nothing Beats tree-ripened Peaches
Great night - and what was being celebrated was not merely the 'Peach' so much as the spirit of eating locally, and dining together with people who love fresh food.

Here's Ricardo's recipe for a Grilled Chicken and Peach Starter.

Ingredients for the Grilled Chicken and Peach starter
(Recipe courtesy of Ricardo Media)
Preparation: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Yeild: 24 mini skewers
30 ml (2 tablespoons) white wine vinegar
30 ml ( 2 tablespoons) butter
30 ml ( 2 tablespoons) honey
1 green onion, thinly sliced
Mini skewers:
4 boneless and skinless chicken thighs, cut into 6 pieces
2 peaches, pitted and each cut into 12 wedges
12 slices bacon, halved
24 large toothpicks
salt and pepper
Marinade: In a saucepan, bring all of the marinade ingredients to a boil and simmer for about 1 minute. Allow to cool
Mini Skewers:
Season the chicken with salt and pepper. For each skewer, wrap a piece of chicken an a wedge of peach in a half slice of bacon. Secure with a toothpick. Place the skewers in a glass dish and coat with the marinade. Cover and marinate for about 15 minutes.
Preheat the BBQ grill, setting the burners to medium Oil the grate. Grill the skewers for 4 to 5 minutes per side. Continue cooking for about 5 minutes on indirect heat or until the chicken is no longer pink.
Serve with a good chilled white wine, like Petter Estate Riesling 2008.

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