Growing everything from parsnips to persimmons, 10 Acres is the epitome of local eating. Billing itself as Bistro + Bar + Farm, that pretty much sums it up. Most of the menu is pulled out of North Saanich soil in the morning and on your plate by noon.
“Farm to table is such a popular catch phrase these days,” says Meat and Bread Chef Carmen Ingham. “People love to say it but … this place walks the walk.”
Ingham grew up in the kitchen beside his mother, enjoying food from his Italian heritage. “My mom is Italian, but she was born here. My family acts more Italian than we really are – big family suppers, that sort of thing.”
It was in his mother’s kitchen Ingham learned to appreciate home-grown, as well as home-cooked meals. “I got a part time job in a kitchen when I was going to community college and I fell in love with it right away … that’s 10 years now,” he says.
Originally from Burnaby, Ingham is a Red Seal Chef who spent years honing his skills at the prestigious Sonora Resort, north of Campbell River.
Ingham orders the Farmhand lunch which includes house-made charcuterie; locally sourced cheese; crostinis; pickled vegetables; house-made beer, onion, mustard; candied salmon; pork paté and chicken liver parfait.
Torn between the Salt Spring Island Mussels and the sustainable local fish tacos, I opt for the former cooked in traditional garlic and white wine.
I try a taste of the mustard and share a few of the generous helping of mussels. The mustard is a delicious blend of flavours, as is the rest, Ingham assures me.
“Most people associate shellfish with summer, but they’re much better in the winter, it has something to do with the colder water,” he says, taking a bite.
The mussels do taste fresh and firm, the large, yet thin, slice of garlic toast perched on top is perfect to soak up some of the flavourful broth.
“This (chicken liver parfait) is brouléed with a torch, that’s a nice touch, I’ve never had that before. The pickles are really nice, refreshing,” he says.
As we eat, we talk about the local food movement. “Before things were thought to be better if they were from further away, more luxurious. Now people want their food to come from as close as possible. People are more realistic about their carbon footprint and wasting resources.” That change in attitude also changes the menu which follows the harvest, he says. “It’s created more interesting regional cuisine.”
It’s a sentiment shared by 10 Acres owner Mike Murphy, who not only grows most of the vegetables for the restaurant, he also raises pigs, turkeys, rabbits and chickens for their eggs. What he can’t provide from his 10 acres, comes from other area farms. “Local farmers, you gotta support them,” says Murphy, who also owns Pescatores and The Oyster Bar. “These days people will pay for local, especially for meat products.”
The farm supplies meat and produce and also takes back compost from the restaurant, reusing it on the fields.
“I read on their website they even reuse the vegetable oil to power the farmer’s car,” says Ingham. “It’s pretty interesting.”
10 Acres, 611 Courtney St., is one of dozens of local restaurants participating in Dine Around & Stay in Town, providing special price fixe menus Feb. 20 to March 9. Go to tourismvictoria.com for more information.