Farm to Table 2017

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Only 200 tickets are sold for this INCREDIBLE event. Last year sold out. Get your tickets now as I don’t want to hear you complaining you missed it 😉

The first two events ROCKED—al fresco dining in an organic vegetable field, with eight or nine courses prepared by a group of fine local and international chefs. The meal includes two main proteins and free-flowing wine and cocktails served by professional waiters and eaten family style with an interesting and eclectic group of people.

It’s a magical afternoon and evening, ending after the incredible colors of sunset over the fields segue into the darkness. Plus, the raffle at the end benefits a charity, so we can feel good amidst our gluttony.

Click on any photo below to enlarge it and read captions or view a slideshow.

The 2017 Farm to Table will be held on Sunday February 12 from 1-5pm at Chuy Lizárraga’s (Chuy’s Organics) farm just north of Mazatlán at Kilometer 21. The stellar team of chefs has been slightly different each year, in order to keep things fresh and creative. In 2017 we can look forward to the work of Alastair Porteous, Water’s Edge Bistro; Gabriel Ocampo, F.I.S.H. Fresh International Seafood House; Daniel Soto, El Caprichito Mío (Culiacán); Luis Osuna, Cayenna Cocina del Mundo (Culiacán); Elmo Ruffo, La Fiera; Karl Gregg, Blue Print Group (Vancouver); and Francis Regio, Regio Hospitality Group (Vancouver)—seven chefs working together to delight our palates and souls.

Participating chefs are committed to organic food and the farm to table concept. Chef Alastair co-founded the event and continues to lead it; Sarah Emerson, Marianne Biasotti and Chuy Lizárraga have also been with the effort since the beginning. The chefs work as a team to prepare every dish, though one chef takes the lead on each course. Sarah Emerson from F.I.S.H. compared Alastair to a symphony conductor, as he works with the chefs individually to plan a menu that brings out the strengths of each. Preparing a gourmet, farm-fresh meal in a field is no easy task, but I can personally vouch that they do a splendid job. Most of the chefs even pick their own produce right in Chuy’s fields!

Tickets this year are 1400 pesos and will be available at Water’s Edge starting today, Tuesday December 13th, and at the restaurants of the participating chefs shortly thereafter. This dinner will make a wonderful Valentine’s gift. The Sunday event will take place from 1-5pm. You can drive to Chuy’s farm, or there will be bus transportation available via reservation for a separate fee.

Last year’s menu went like this:

  1. Welcome cocktail—cucumber-mint margaritas made with Mazatlán’s own Los Osuna—prepared by Chef Alastair Porteous, Water’s Edge
  2. Green ceviche—shrimp, mahi, avocado, cilantro, parsley, garlic, chilaca and anaheim chile pesto—by Chefs Gabriel Ocampo and Luis Vargas, FISH
  3. Tres Islas micro-brew—Belgian-style, amber color, light body, dry finish, notes of fruits and spices—by Brewmaster Edvin Jonsson
  4. Dual temperature salad—grilled eggplant and portobello, squash that had been roasted in the ground, tomato trilogy and sweet baby bell peppers with a cranberry, raspbery and balsamic vinaigrette—by Chef Daniel Soto, El Caprichito Mio
  5. Traditional risotto—on a bed of huitlachoche/corn truffles, with radish garnish, parmesan crust, and tempura zucchini blossoms—by Enrique Freyre, Raggio Cucina Casual
  6. My favorite: grilled sea bass—in a smoked tomatillo sauce topped with seafood gratin—by Chef Luis Osuna of Cayenna
  7. Greg’s favorite: chamorro/pork shoulder rib—braised with red wine, star anise, garlic, cumin and thyme—by Chef Alastair Porteous, Water’s Edge
  8. Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc from Chucaro, along with hibiscus tea
  9. Fresh fruit and cheese petit fours, plus incredible breads—by Susan Reynolds, Miel Fresh Baked Goods
  10. Dessert coffee—organic Chiapas espresso with a spiced date pure over vanilla ice cream, topped with toasted almonds and coconut—by Marianne Bisotti of Rico’s Café

I recently had the pleasure of hosting Sarah Emerson from F.I.S.H., Yamil González from La Fiera, and Chuy Lizárraga from Chuy’s Organics in my home for a conversation about the upcoming event. Pour yourself a glass of something delectable, and sit down to listen to them tell the FTT Mazatlán story.

Are you curious about which chefs have been involved in the Farm to Table dinner? Below is a handy dandy little table. Ok, Marianne isn’t a chef, but she has prepared a drink each year, and a delicious one at that—so she is included.

Chefs 2014 2016 2017
Alastair Porteous, Water’s Edge X X X
Sarah Emerson & Gabriel Ocampo, F.I.S.H. X X X
Marianne Biasotti, Rico’s Café X X X
Daniel Soto, El Caprichito, Culiacán X X
Luis Osuna, Cayenna, Culiacán X X
Diego Becerra, El Presidio X
Enrique Espinoza, Rosso Nero X
Enrique Freyre, Raggio X  X
Héctor Peniche, Molika X
Luis Vargas, F.I.S.H. X
Elmo Ruffo, La Fiera X
Karl Gregg, Executive Chef, Vancouver  X X
Francis Regio, Regio Hospitality Group X

The first year FTT benefitted the non-profit organization Avicultores Pérez Vidaña, an award-winning non-profit organization in Sinaloa that assists low-income families with severely handicapped children by teaching them to raise chickens and eggs for food. It also helped out the educational programs of our local Mercado Orgánico. Last year Farm to Table raffle prizes benefitted Floreser, the home for young women fleeing domestic violence. This year’s charity has, at press time, not yet been decided.

Cocktail-wise, the first year highlighted Onilikan. Last year we had beers from Tres Islas, our local microbrewery, and cocktails made with Los Osuna. In 2017 we’ll be joined by Tequila Agatha from Jalisco. The cocktail to be featured is a surprise!

I look forward to laughing, drinking and eating with you there!

Meseta de Cacaxtla Tour with Conanp – Comunidad Guillermo Prieto

Second stop on our tour today was at the organic community orchards and gardens of Comunidad Guillermo Prieto, a couple of kilometers north of La Chicayota on the highway. My oh my do they have beautiful produce! (If you missed it, link to blog post on our first stop, La Chicayota)

Lush, delicious, fresh; all they lack is a market. They sadly told us that much of their first-year bumper crop of scrumptious organic tomatoes went unsold! We of course immediately told them about the new Mazatlán Farmers’ Market/Mercado Orgánico de Mazatlán every Saturday morning in Plaza Zaragoza, Mazatlán. The cooperative’s leader, Sra. Sacramento, promised they would be here this Saturday to start the application process, so that their organic produce might also be sold there on Saturdays.

Sra. Sacramento… a beautiful name, don’t you think? That is her in the photo at left. When I told her she had a beautiful name, she said it’s what she’s been “saddled with” because when she was young her father moved north to tend fields in Sacramento, CA.
To Sacramento’s left, in the red shirt in the photo, is Carlos Carballo, an engineer, teacher of organic farming, holistic cattle raising, and ….

Hydroponics. These farms are located in an area of town that is sort of “off the grid.” The only source of water, other than private delivery by truck, is to have it piped in from Dimas, miles away. The water from Dimas is turned on once a day for two hours. To work around this shortage of water and be able to reuse some the precious water they do have, the community has turned to hydroponics.

Another difficulty facing the organic farms of Comunidad Guillermo Prieto is that they don’t have a steady market for their product. Traditional planting aggravates this market problem because crops ripen at the same time and need to be harvested quickly. Hydroponics, as we were told, allow the plants to root indoors in a greenhouse, protected from the sun, and provide the farmer a bit more leeway with when to put the plants in soil. In this way, the cooperative farmers can choose when to transplant a hydroponically rooted strawberry or lettuce plant, and extend the harvest!

Comunidad Guillermo Prieto uses two kinds of hydroponic systems. The first, as you see above and at left, is a tube system. The engineering uses readily available items (see the rebar holding the piping on the wood support).

The second hydroponic system we saw  here were floating gardens — plants rooting into the water through holes in styrofoam! It was really cool. Four times a day for 15 minutes each time, pumps are turned on to circulate and refresh the water.

We saw lots of kinds of lettuce, cilantro, and scallions growing in these floating gardens.

And here in the photo you can see how well the roots respond to the floating garden concept.

Because the community here doesn’t yet have sufficient greenhouse space or netting, they are unable to vine-ripen their organic tomatoes. If they allow the tomatoes to ripen on the vine, the birds eat their crop. Thus, they harvest them while still green, and allow the tomatoes to ripen inside the netted greenhouse, safely out of the way of the hungry birds.

We saw a lot of different crops here, including peppers, camote(sweet potato), cherry tomatoes, and citrus fruits.

A bumblebee inside a camoteflower.

And some camote, peeking up through the soil.

A nice healthy broccoli plant…

Many thanks to our hosts. We weren’t able to spend a lot of time here. I would have loved to have toured the orchards and some of the other fields. As we left I was gifted with a huge bunch of basil and three gorgeously sweet grapefruit. I will be back, to buy some plants and produce, and to visit the terrific people we met. Thank you all!

(Link to third and final blog post from today’s journey, Los Llanitos)

UPDATE:
I am really happy to report that yesterday, Jan. 28, Sacramento and her crew were at the Mercado Orgánico Mazatlán. Conanp had submitted all their paperwork, and will be buying them a tent to aid their display. Hooray! So very happy that this trip and this post had a positive outcome in that way. Sacramento was psyched because they quickly sold out of greens and were well on their way to selling out of other vegetables as well. So glad also that MOM/Mazatlán Farmers Market and Conanp are also now in touch.