Ryan Crawford of Backhouse Restaurant will be supplying the menu for one of the most unique Niagara dining experiences this weekend.
Sponsored by the Niagara Icewine Festival, in partnership with the Niagara Parks Commission, Crawford and his staff will be serving a gourmet meal at the edge of the Niagara Escarpment, in 10 igloo-like snow globes overlooking Niagara Falls.
Crawford is the latest Niagara chef to have the opportunity to provide the menu for this once-in-a-lifetime dining experience.
“It’s a great chance for all the chefs to showcase Niagara cuisine,” he says. “I think all of us try to promote and use local ingredients as much as we can. Serving at the brink of the Falls, in these awesome snow globes, it’s super exciting.”
Dorian Anderson, of the Niagara Icewine Festival, says the response to the Snow Globe Soiree dining experience has been phenomenal. “Our first week that we launched, we had over 500 people on an information/waiting list, and we had chefs lining up to give it a try, which is amazing, because it’s a different kind of service.”
Indeed, Crawford will be working hard back at the restaurant to prepare much of the menu before heading to the snow globes, which are located just below the entrance to the zipline on the Niagara Parkway. And he’ll be bringing a staff of six servers, two team leaders, and three or four people working in the trailer that subs for a kitchen onsite.
The five weekends of the Snow Globe Soiree are part of the 25th anniversary of the Icewine Festival. Anderson says, in choosing the chefs to participate, it was important that their proposed menus were both seasonal and effectively incorporated icewine into the fare.
Crawford’s menu for this weekend does a great job on both fronts.
Diners will be enjoying a fried egg-white mousse with an icewine bacon dipper, or Jerusalem artichoke soup with burnt pear and celery root for the appetizer. For the main course, they will choose between a surf and turf of sorts, with aged beef and Ontario shrimp, Colaphore Springs Trout, or local fresh Niagara mushroom and gnocchi ragout. For dessert, diners will choose between three different options, all based in squash grown by Crawford at his four-acre farm.
“Everything right now is coming from our root cellar,” says Crawford. “We had some awesome Jerusalem artichoke, and we grew about 12 different types of squash, so it’s super fun to incorporate the squash in the dessert.”
True to the Backhouse tradition, the evening will wrap up with some toasted marshmallows.
Crawford had a chance to check out the setup last weekend. With some light snow falling, he felt the ambience of the snow globes was perfect.
“Is it going to be a little bit chilly?” he asks. “Of course it’s going to be chilly. It’s Canada. It’s winter. We’re Canadians. It’s not freezing (in the snow globes), it’s more like a warm, wrapped-up-by-the-fireplace feeling. It’s a Canadiana experience, and what better way to showcase our cool climate cuisine.”
Crawford will be serving at the Snow Globe Soiree Feb. 6 through Feb. 9. Visit Niagarawinefestival.com for information.