Top Chefs and Amazing Food Help New Foodie Event Hit the Mark in Spokane Valley

The Spokesman Review - June 16, 2017

“I love it,” said Taylor as she worked her way through the tables offering gourmet bites and top-flight wines, mead and beer.

The couple hold tickets for the whole series of events, which end Sunday.

The first-ever Crave is being held at CenterPlace event center in Spokane Valley, 2426 N. Discovery Place.

The event is the brainchild of chef Adam Hegsted and Vision Marketing.

Even with a fairly small crowd, it was getting rave reviews on Friday.

“All of the best chefs in the area are here,” said Kylla Kooima, tasting room manager for Terra Blanca Winery and Estate Vineyard in the Chronicle Building downtown.

Michael Pangburn, of Spokane Valley, tasted the Terra Blanca wines and declared one of them to be “good with dinner.”

Terry Morgan, a wheat farmer from Rosalia, was serving fresh oysters on ice on the half shell. They were briny like the ocean.

Morgan said he is working with his son and daughter to develop a wholesale business for fresh oysters from Samish Bay near Bellingham, Washington.

His grandfather bought the first oyster beds in 1940 and the family has since added to the holding.

His oysters are being used by several top restaurants – Beverly’s at the Coeur d’Alene Resourt, Churchills and Wandering Table, and one of Hegsted’s restaurants, he said.

He calls his company Meishi, after the Mandarin word for delicacy or fine dining.

They hope to open a wholesale market to China.

“I think this is gong to grow into a really great event,” Morgan said of Crave.

Next to Meishi’s table was Booey’s Gourmet, a hot sauce maker.

Owner Casey Booey said his gourmet sauce “works real well in Bloody Marys.”

The Jamaican sauce was perfect on top of one of the oysters.

Almathear Organic traveled to the event from Belgrade, Montana, bringing their goat cheeses for guests to sample.

Sarah Brown, one of the owners, said the short-chained fatty acids in goat cheese are more healthy and easier to digest than cow milk cheese.

The family farms also raise pigs and use the leftover whey to give their pork a distinct taste.

At the Yakima Craft Brewing Co., brewer Caleb Mottet said his blond beer incorporated tips of heather blossoms and honey from Zillah, Washington.

“It’s a really good summer beer,” he said.

His beer is being poured at the Fieldhouse in Liberty Lake, Caruso’s and Selkirk, all in the Spokane region.

“We don’t have to sell people on the beer, said Jason Workman, the operations manager for Yakima brewing. “We let the beer do it.”

Workman explained that craft beers are normally seasonal, something called “rotating handles” in the trade.

A few sprinkles and breezy winds didn’t dampen anyone’s mood on Friday.

“Despite the weather, people are in good spirits,” Workman said. “We’re excited about having more of a presence in Spokane.”

Nearby, Hierophant Meadery from Green Bluff was pouring a light alcohol beverage made with rose and cardamom.

Mead is made from fermentation of honey.

Jeremy Kyncl, mazer and owner, said that he was drawn to mead after studying herbal science at the holistic Basfyr University in Kenmore, Washington.

“We became very aware of colony collapse,” he said of the plight of honey bees in recent years.

“We are trying to minimize contact that harms bees’ health,” he said.

Mead is actually an easy fermentation that lends itself to additional ingredients. “Mead is a very forgiving base,” Kyncl said.

The Hierophan mead is being sold at Total Wines.

Idaho Springs Food brought its farm-raised smoked trout and white sturgeon caviar.

Nothing Bundt Cakes had samples.

Roast House coffee was serving organic fair-trade brews.

J.G. Neil Co., a professional food service brokerage, offered a series of its cooked products, including edmame, shrimp and porcini mushrooms.

The tasting event includes presentations by experts.

Celebrity chef Mark Peel, of Los Angeles, used his time to talk about creating affordable gourmet dishes in restaurants.

“The sweet spot is $8 to $12,” he said, explaining that the target price point meets “people where they are.”