Hand-selected farm fresh produce, skilled instruction, creative touches and experimentation culminates in a dining experience like no other on Lake Tahoe.
“I think food should look good every step of the way,” shares Douglas Dale as he holds out a large mixing bowl with a rainbow of freshly cut ingredients - cucumbers, melon, red, orange and yellow cherry tomatoes - for our Polenta Panzanella Salad. Just moments before his gaze fell on a bouquet of basil that we had just purchased at the Farmers Market; “This is so gorgeous.” Again, we nod. Who can argue with the idea or the man himself?
We’re two hours into Wolfdale’s Farmers Market Workshop. “We” are a group of passionate foodies: at least a handful have signed up because they love what Dale and his team serve at Wolfdale’s; Truckee mom and blogger (little-gem.posterous.com) Megan Scott is here to celebrate a friend’s birthday, ask questions and learn some tips; Matt and Marisa from Pennsylvania celebrated their first wedding anniversary at Wolfdale’s and are back after the birth of their second child for fabulous recipes and to learn a thing or two about preparing healthy meals.
Before prepping we break into four small groups. Each group is assigned one of four courses and we head to the Thursday market at Commons Beach with $20 in hand to purchase seasonal ingredients for our assigned course. Back in the kitchen, Dale explains to our group that he thinks about how food is going to look on a plate. He encourages us to think about proportion, shape, texture before we start slicing, chopping and mixing the ingredients for the third course. In conjunction with a polenta demonstration, we learn that cooking food two ways gives it flavor. The cooled, seasoned polenta prepared on the stovetop is cut into healthy sized cubes, gently tossed with olive oil and salt and baked – now we have polenta croutons, a creative take on the Tuscan peasant salad traditionally made with hardened bread. And, it makes a wonderful bed for our sole.
Around the corner four pairs of hands press a buttery crust into pans for an unbelievably inviting summer dessert – Lemon Tart topped with organic yellow and red raspberries and blackberries, a smidge of vanilla infused whip cream and decadent berry sauce. This team, with the help of Wolfdale’s Camacho, also prepares savory hand twirled breadsticks that are served with Caprese Salad with Basil Pesto, our second course. Each groups shares tidbits about their trip to the market and preparations before JB shares insights about the wine he pairs and pours for each course. The male duo that prepared the Caprese Salad does not hide the glory of the tomatoes from Placer County. The dish is exquisite – a visual delight and flavorful celebration of summertime.
The results are extraordinary. After four courses, I am not full but rather completely fulfilled.
Wolfdale's Cuisine Unique
640 North Lake Boulevard in Tahoe City.
Dinner is served daily July and Aug. and every night except Tuesday Sept. through June.
Farmers Market Workshops can be booked for parties of 12 or more
($95 per person; or $45 for lunch - four courses with paired wines).