Bard Valley Medjool Date Dinner at Forum
I was recently invited to Forum by Bard Valley Medjool Dates and their spokesperson, Laura Hartung. I was in right away since I love the new Forum (used to be Vox but looks even better inside!), loooooove dates (especially adding them to my banana oat smoothies) and know Laura from some corporate wellness work we’ve done together. I was joined by some other Boston food bloggers Elizabeth and Shannon, as well as 1 out of 2 Meal Makeover Moms, Liz, and sports dietitian Nancy Clark.
We learned a bit about dates, including how and where they’re grown. I always thought dried dates were well, dried. But apparently that’s how they grow, and it looks like once they’re picked from the tree (green) they brown and dry slightly, but don’t actually go through a drying process, like raisins, for example. Also, dates are super high in polyphenols (an antioxidant) because they’re grown in a hot climate, and those polyphenols are nature’s way of protecting the fruit from the damaging rays of the sun. So interesting. Many people shy away from dates because they’re high in sugar (nature’s candy!) but they’re also a good source of fiber and I find they satisfy my sweet tooth when I’m craving some candy. Oftentimes after dinner, I’ll have one date for something sweet and it does the trick.
We learned that Bard Valley brand medjool dates are sold to wholesalers, and unfortunately not to consumers, so you can’t seek them out in grocery stores, unfortunately. However, you’ve likely seen medjool dates – that’s a certain variety of dates – in your local grocery store. This variety of dates aren’t the most attractive piece of fruit, but once you sink your teeth into one and enjoy the sticky sweet flesh that tastes like honey and caramel combined, you’ll ignore their slug-like appearance.
Our 4-course menu was absolutely delicious and so was the wine that was paired with it. I love adding sweet components to savory dishes like salads and grain dishes, and the Forum chefs did a great job with this. The cherry on top was the dessert, which I’m sure was totally calorie free. Thanks to Forum for sending each of us home with a goodie bag filled with an extra date dinner and dessert to go.
Medjool date, orange, and almond salad paired with Montecillo “Verdemar” Albarino 2009. Absolutely loved this salad and wine pairing!
Pan braised leeks with medjool date salad paired with Zind-Humbrecht Alsace 2008 Gewürztraminer. This had blue cheese, which I did not enjoy. I would have loved a second serving of the salad and wine above!
The vino was a flown.’
Black rice, medjool date puree, broccoli rabe. This dish came with roasted duck breast, which I obviously did not get. The wild rice was so flavorful, and the chef said she simply prepared it with vegetable stock, a carrot, shallot, oil, salt, and pepper. The date puree sweetness mellowed out the bitterness of the broccoli rabe perfectly. This was paired with Hitching Post 2007 “Cork Dancer” Santa Barbara.
We ended the meal with a Dreamy (yes, dreamy) medjool date pudding cake with caramel infusion paired with a small scoop of orange infused ice cream and Pacific Rim, Vin De Glaciere, Riesling Ice Wine (riesling is my favorite wine, and as a dessert wine?!? Like candy.)
It was so interesting to learn about dates, taste them in unique ways, and of course, make totally lame jokes about dates all night. Usually dates are reserved for holiday desserts, but I love ‘em year round. How about you? How do you enjoy dates?
Disclaimer: I was invited by Bard Valley Medjool Dates and Laura Hartung to attend this dinner. All opinions are my own.