The Dinner Restoration Project at the Root Cellar

Restortation.3The early evening still feels like summer: the sun is low and golden in the sky as guests for the first annual Root Cellar Dinner Restoration Project line up for gin and tonics by Phillips Brewing and Victoria Distillers. As people file in, encouraged by the down tempo soundings of The Sweet Lowdown, most are immediately drawn to the expansive charcuterie board featuring a variety of local cheeses and cured meats and jams and preserves from Salt Spring Island Kitchen Co. Ah, the last days of summer – where we try to squeeze every ounce of please out of the warm festive atmosphere and jealously hold on to the final harvests of the fruitful Victoria season.

The event, hosted by the Root Cellar owners Daisy and Adam Orser, and partner Phil Lafreniere, and Dan and Micayla of the London Chef, was held in the open air under a tented roof next to the Root Cellar’s Garden Centre. The 80 person long-table was set in full harvest-style splendor, decorated with miniature pumpkins, white acorn and grey ghost squash from Dan’s Farm & Country Market, Japanese anemone from Daisy’s garden, and Root Cellar succulents and herb sprigs. The feeling brought about that very specific feeling one gets as summer drains in to fall – a mix of regret and anticipation that laments the sun-drenched memories of months past and the desire for golden leaves, damp earth, and crackling fires.

Restoration.2Daisy and Dan hosted the event side by side and walked their guests through the family style dishes. Daisy was in true form, speaking with ardent emotion about her business, her love of our local farmers, and her gratitude for her loyal customers. Dan supplied an energetic description of the food, how it should be eaten, and tips on how to utilize the plethora of featured produce.

Opening with a crostini topped wilted Saanich kale, local Russian garlic and soft goat cheese, the four-course meal drew on the late harvest and entry to fall with grilled summer vegetables, deliciously tender braised chicken thighs with risotto, and closed with Dan’s homage to his homeland, Eton Mess with berries from Galey Farm. Wine pairings came from Covert Farms in Oliver BC, adding to the well-rounded celebration of local culinary delights.

The excitement, passion and dedication so evident in this first long-table dinner brings in hope that many more events just like this will spring up in the months and years to come.

1286 McKenzie Ave, Victoria, BC


 – By Jill Van Gyn

 – Photography by Derek Ford


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