One of the perks of being a local food writer is that you sometimes get a firsthand look at the ingredients that go into some beloved dishes. Last night was such a night. B.C. Blueberries hosted an event from the rooftop patio of Le Germain with CHARCUT chefs, Connie DeSousa and John Jackson. Like an episode of Iron Chef, DeSousa and Jackson took the not-so-secret ingredient of the season’s first-harvest, B.C. blueberries, and served up an array of tangy dishes, in a hailstorm, no less.
The evening started with a martini aptly named the Blueberry Thyme Bomb, mixed with Grand Marnier (among other things), fresh blueberries and garnished with a sprig of thyme.
Next up, was the Blueberry Collins, with elderflower liqueur and sparkling water.
It was fun to see what the chefs dreamed up for the main ingredient and the fantastic starters included bites like figs stuffed with blue cheese, spanakopita with an organic yogurt blueberry tzatziki, or my personal favourite: tarts with a house-made goat cheese and a blueberry marmalade. Another show-stopping dish packed a blueberry curry into soft, mini-waffle cones.
Staying true to their roots, DeSousa and Jackson’s featured mains included barbecue pork ribs with a chipotle pepper and roasted blueberry sauce; fire-grilled chicken brushed with a sweet-and-sour blueberry glaze; and Spring Creek angus burgers with blueberry ketchup, a blueberry piri piri sauce and an impressive array of fixin’s – from fresh orange tomatoes and butter leaf lettuce, to caramelized onions and housemade pickles.
Last up was a tangy and sweet dessert of blueberry ice cream sandwiches.
I learned a few things along the way. I had no idea that blueberries are Canada’s most exported fruit, and that the only Canadian region that has the right mix of hot days and cold nights to properly grow high-bush blueberries spans along the Pacific from Richmond to Abbotsford, B.C. I did know that blueberries are extremely good for you and that they are one of the best sources of antioxidants, but they can also, apparently, help to slow the aging process and reduce cell damage that can lead to cancer, cardiovascular disease and loss of brain function.
For that reason alone I’d recommend picking up some B.C. blueberries, but do it now as their time with us is short (the season typically lasts from the start of August to the end of September), and they truly are much tastier when they come from the homeland.