Gigi’s note: Another guest post today, this time from Pick! Thanks Pick for taking on the tough job of going to Hastings House on Saltspring Island for me to do this review
HoYummy was invited to the Hastings House, Country House Hotel on Saltspring Island for the Chefs Across the Water 2010 event, and I was fortunate enough to go. Hastings House has been consistently rated as one of the top small luxury hotels in Canada, and boasts a variety of awards and accolades from Andrew Harper’s Hideaway Report, Zagat International, and others. Also in attendance for the evening’s dinner was Brian Webb (@br_webb); Mijune Pak from Follow Me Foodie (@FollowMeFoodie); Chris Parks, director of sales and marketing at Hastings House (@hastingshousess), and my evening’s plus one.
The evening began with a goat cheese tart for the amuse bouche (excuse the photo quality, the liquor had hit by the time I started eating). The pastry was fluffy and the cheese flavors mixed well with the tart. This wasn’t something remarkable, but my bouche was amused.
Next up, we had the wild pacific salmon tartar, a parsnip chip, with fir tree honey and parsley oil paired with the sparkling 2005 Blue Mountain Rose Brut (80% Pinot Noir and Chardonnay). The tartar had a fresh salmon flavor and even texture, and the chip offered a crunchy contrast. I also appreciated how this dish (like many of the other dishes) were beautifully plated with extra color from around the garden, and how all of the dishes used local ingredients with some directly from the herb garden out back.
The caramelized onion and apple bisque with a goat cheese crouton, paired with the 2009 Salt Spring Vineyards, Blattner White came next. This soup was probably my highlight of the evening. All the flavors blended together perfectly, in addition to the flavors of the wine pairing transforming the tastes in my mouth. Soups are something I like to order at every restaurant, which makes me rather picky about soups – this soup tops my list!
Following the soup, we had seared local pine mushrooms, bright farm leek, orchard pear and smoked albacore tuna ragout paired with the 2006 Mission Hill S.L.C. Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon. After one of the best soups of my life, I unfortunately did not feel as ecstatic about this dish as I had hoped. The flavors were great, but unfortunately, something felt lacking in this dish – I can’t quite put my finger on it. I did however, really enjoy my wine pairing.
For my entree, I had the grilled salt spring island lamb with rosemary rosti potatoes, served with a grainy mustard jus and paired with the 2004 Osoyoos Larose. This could possibly have been the best lamb dish I have ever tried. The mustard jus had a slight spicy tang to it that meshed well with the natural flavors of the lamb. I traded some of my lamb for some of Mijune’s sablefish, and she noted that the lamb did not taste gamey at all. The lamb was tender, moist, and rich in flavor; everything perfectly cooked lamb should be.
Finally, we had the garden quince soufflé with grand marnier crème anglaise, paired withe the 2008 Elephant Island Apricot. Although you can’t see the un-punctured version of my soufflé, I was very impressed by the rise of a perfect peak on my soufflé. It was so beautiful that my heart broke a little watching our server dutifully puncture each soufflé to fill them with the crème anglaise. I’m a dessert fiend, and it’s rare I find such perfect soufflé, but that night on Saltspring Island, I found it.
I cannot wait until my next trek to Hastings House, for some more of the culinary delights that chef Marcel Kauer has to share. The entire trip was a perfect getaway from hectic city life with excellent service and pampering from everybody at Hastings House. We also had fresh cranberry muffins delivered to our doorsteps in the morning, which I unfortunately devoured in the morning without even thinking about photographing them! Needless to say, they were delicious.
160 Upper Ganges Road, Salt Spring Island, BC