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Lavishly dine at Lavender Dinner celebration

Lavender connoisseurs can take their love to the next level by wining and dining at the third annual Celebrate Lavender Dinner.

Chefs Dave Long and Steve McNabb of Port Angeles return to cook for the closing night of the 2010 Sequim Lavender Festival that runs July 16-18.

They prepared the cuisine at the inaugural meal in 2008 and are planning to go all out with a lavender-emphasized six-course meal.

"We were more conservative the first year," Long said.

"We're planning on using a bit more lavender in each course of the meal."

McNabb said they didn't force using any lavender in the foods when planning the lavish evening for 2010.

"It worked, beginning to end," McNabb said.

Growing trend

Scott Nagel, Lavender Festival executive director, said the dinner correlates with the growing interest in lavender as a culinary herb.

"People really want to see what the uses are for lavender in food," Nagel said.

"The dinner pulls together all the elements of how wonderful lavender is in food."

He listed vinaigrettes, seasonings and his personal favorite, ice cream, as a few examples for lavender-integrated foods.

"People use it everywhere," Nagel said.

Maintaining the trend, each farm on the festival tour will host lavender cooking demonstrations earlier in the day. The farms are Cedarbrook Lavender & Herb Farm, Jardin du Soleil Lavender, Lost Mountain Lavender, Olympic Lavender Farm, Purple Haze Lavender Ltd. and Sunshine Herb & Lavender Farm.


Chefs Dave Long, left, and Steve McNabb are ready for people to remember the taste of lavender at the Celebrate Lavender Dinner on Sunday, July 18. They are including lavender in every course of the high-end meal that ends the Sequim Lavender Festival. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

Taste test

Lavender's growing popularity has brought a lot of food experimentation with it, Long said.

"At first when I experimented with it, it was terrible because I put too much into my food," McNabb said.

The chefs agreed the amount of lavender is typically delicate.

"You don't use it pervasively," Long said.

"It can be overpowering and taste like medicine but using it judicially can be quite nice."

Both chefs look forward to the lavender-coated duck breast and desserts.

"We really want to set people off," McNabb said.

"The last thing they are going to taste is lavender."

"It's like fireworks," Long joked.

Coordinating chefs

Long cut his chops in some of Seattle's finest restaurants and hotels. He taught culinary arts for the North Olympic Peninsula Skills Center. He then founded Oven Spoonful, which operates out of the Itty Bitty Buzz in Port Angeles, offering cooking lessons, full-time catering and some wholesale foods.

McNabb grew up working with many local chefs and in Seattle restaurants and last season was executive chef at the Saltery Lodge, in Southeast Alaska. He started Olympic Coast Consulting to help businesses with menu and recipe consultation, on-site training, finding specialty beers and wines and more.

Dinner specifics

Both chefs say cooking for the festival is fun because lavender is so versatile and that it's a chance to show how good local lavender and foods can taste.

"The best thing we can do is buy and promote these products."

Many ingredients for the six-course meal (see sidebar for specifics) come from growers on the Olympic Peninsula and the Northwest: Lazy J, Nash's Organic and Johnston farms' produce, Holmquist hazelnuts, Dungeness Valley Creamery milk, Mount Townsend Creamery cheese, Elwha Apiary honey and Purple Haze Lavender Farm lavender. Vegetarian options are available.

The Sequim Gazette and Olympic Cellars Winery are co-sponsoring the dinner.

The lavender program in the July 14 issue of the Sequim Gazette will have recipes, and cookbooks with the lavender farms' recipes will be available at each farm.

Dinner tickets are $80 and include tax and gratuity.

For tickets call 877-681-3035, visit the Lavender Festival at www.lavenderfestival.com or Oven Spoonful Bakery at 110 E. First St., Port Angeles.

Reach Matthew Nash at mnash@sequimgazette.com.

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