On Monday, February 23rd, I attended the In the Land of Sea and Honey dinner, organized by Render Food Magazine in collaboration with our friends from Fat Girl Food Squad. Held at Beast in Toronto’s King West neighbourhood, the dinner aimed to celebrate food and the feminist culture. Proceeds from this intimate dining event went to Render Food Magazine, a quarterly publication whose aim is “to empower women in the kitchen by representing women and their contributions to food culture.”
The food for the evening was courtesy of Chef Charlotte Langley from Groundwork Food and Scout Canning. She prepared a four course meal highlighting sea and honey, as the event name suggested. For the sea, the star ingredient was the trout, and the honey would appear in various forms. The first course consisted of thin slices of raw trout and pickled potato, completed with a Mariposa butter and smoked trout aioli. This plate was beautifully presented and delicious. The trout was extremely fresh, and paired quite well tartness of the pickled potatoes.
In between courses, Krystina Roman talked about the subject of bee keeping. Her team from Rosewood Estates Winery uses the bees’ honey to make mead – a honey wine, one of the first consumable alcohols. She interspersed a lot of interesting facts about bees throughout the night. For instance, did you know that a hive consists of a 95% female population, consisting of a queen and the worker bees, and each hive actually has a distinct sound, rhythm, and smell? The queen can live for years, but the worker bees die after 6-8 weeks. Krystina also showed us a typical honeycomb and the suits that they wear.
The second and third courses highlighted both trout and honey. The honey and potato ebleskiver – a Danish pancake – was the perfect complement to the stronger flavours of the spruce cured trout. The crunchy potato petals and the crème fraiche added layers of texture to the dish. The trout steak of the third course was perfectly cooked – the skin was crispy and the meat itself was extremely moist. The charred bitter leaves dressed with a brown butter and honey vinaigrette reminded me of a french onion soup in its flavour.
Finally there was dessert, which consisted of a honeycomb crunch, chocolate, sponge honey nougat, and sea buckthorn jam. I liked the plays of opposites – the sweetness of the honey against the tartness of the sea buckthorn jam, and the crunch of the honeycomb against the sponginess of the nougat. The dessert was delicious. Throughout the night, the courses were paired with various wines from Rosewood Estates, including a Riesling and a Pinot Noir. We began and ended with two different meads – appropriately bookending a dinner in which honey was a major component. As takeaways from this dinner, we got a jar of unpasteurized wildflower honey from Rosewood Estates, and a can of soup de poisson from Langley’s Scout Canning company. Langley wanted to prepare a “nose-to-tail” meal, utilizing every part of the trout, and so rest of the trout going unused in the other courses were used in the fish soup.
The In the Land of Sea and Honey dinner was successful in its purpose – on this night, Charlotte Langley and Krystina Roman were centre stage, two women making positive impact in the food industry. Their focus on sustainable food and drink were evident, and an example for others to follow. Together with Fat Girl Food Squad, this #FemFoodFeb dinner showcased women making waves in food culture. There have been numerous #FemFoodFeb events throughout February in Portland (where Render Food Magazine is based), Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Toronto. For more information on #FemFoodFeb and Render Food Magazine:
Photos by John Tan