As our house gets de-decorated this December 26th, Boxing Day 2011, I think of all those poor people out there braving the malls and the post-Christmas shopping madness. Personally, I think I would be a bit scared to get pepper-sprayed by some crazy who loses their wits after waiting in line since 5 o'clock in the morning! But I guess it's a tradition (although a crazy one...please don't pepper spray your fellow shoppers!). And what would Christmas be without traditions? I would be lost without our family oyster feast Christmas Eve. And new pj's, can't forget about that! Every year we also go on a light tour (or several), to check out all of the festive decorations around the city. This year Spruce Meadows (the equestrian centre just outside of Calgary) did up a pretty little (well not so little...it was pretty big actually) display. There were a lot of trees, which made for a lot of lights. Not the most energy friendly thing you will ever see but it was impressive nonetheless. What are some of your favourite Christmas traditions?
After the light tour, we went for dinner at Farm Restaurant on 17th Ave. They are all about supporting local farms/producers. It's actually connected to the Janice Beaton Cheese Shop so there is a wide variety of fromage to choose from as well.
I loved the decor. Everything was very antique yet the room still managed to have a rustic, farmhouse type feel.
They even put their candles in teacups which I thought was super cute.
Ok finally onto the appetizers. We started with a meat and cheese board. We chose 3 selections, 2 cheese, 1 meat. Each came with its own, specific condiment. The sausage was from Valbella's in Canmore. It was paired with the grainy mustard. I loved this mustard by the way, by the end I was eating it by itself. Nice and crunchy yet not too mustardy in that "clear out your sinuses" kind of way. In the top right corner is the Dauphin cheese with a berry compote. It was super creamy, almost like brie but much more buttery. Then in the top left a hard, cow's milk cheese from Holland. It was similar to Parrano (which we were going to order but they ran out). The name is slipping my mind however. I think it started with a "c"? Either way I preferred the rich, creaminess of the Dauphin.
We also ordered some marinated olives. They tasted good but they were extremely tiny. I always get annoyed when the pit to flesh ratio tends to favour the pit.
For an entree my sister ordered the bacon salad with buttermilk vinaigrette. She really enjoyed it and from the few bites of lettuce I managed to sneak towards the end, it was a really, really good salad. When you think buttermilk, you would expect a creamy, heavy dressing. However this was actually a vinaigrette. Nothing like your typical buttermilk ranch dressing.
As for me, I opted for the mac n' cheese. All the reviews I read before hand said it was amazing. And considering the owner of Farm is Janice Beaton of Janice Beaton Cheese Shop, you would expect it to be filled with cheesy goodness. Which was why I was surprised that the cheese flavor wasn't out of this world. You could taste the cheddar and the subtle nuttiness of the gruyere but it didn't have the punch that I was expecting. It was a good mac n' cheese, don't get me wrong, but it didn't wow me like I wanted it to. Even just a pinch more salt would have upped the anti. Mixing in some of the homemade ketchup also added another dimension to the dish. I enjoyed it although I wouldn't give it rave reviews myself.
My dad also ordered the mac except that he added in some pork shoulder. Maybe that would have provided the depth of flavor I was looking for.
The pork belly was my mom's choice and she loved it. Complete with braised peppers, poached apples and a burnt honey jus it definitely looked the part.
Unfortunately dessert was the one sub-standard part of the meal. I was so looking forward to the peanut butter pot de creme with salted chocolate ganache in it's adorable little mason jar. The flavours were there but I simply couldn't get over the texture. I sent it back because unlike the silky custard I was expecting, the actual pot de creme itself was lumpy and curdled. It was like someone scrambled the eggs when they were making it.
As for the cheesecake, I give Farm brownie points for creativity. It was deconstructed so instead of a crust, there was an oatmeal crumble on the bottom. This was topped with a scoop of a goat's cheese/mousse-like concoction and a berry compote. My opinion is a bit on the biased side because I hate cheesecake to begin with but even my sister, the cheesecake lover wasn't a fan of this. Simply because the cheese was virtually unsweetened. It was much too savoury to call it a dessert.
Although the meal didn't end off on the highest note, I would still recommend Farm to anyone looking for a casual dinner with great food. It's also the type of place where you can eat with a clear conscience, knowing that all your food came from farmers who actually care and nurture whatever it is that they are producing.