A goat is a chef's best friend

Fairmont Hotels incorporate 'farm connections' to bring fresh, local tastes to their customers.

Courtesy of Fairmont Hotels
Blanche Neige gets a visit from Sous Chef Martin Paquet who uses local goat cheese in his creations at the Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth in Montreal, Canada.

While the rise of urban farming is prompting even city dwellers to raise their own tomatoes and chickens, chefs are also bringing the source of the dishes they create ever closer to their kitchens. And sometimes that means a personal bond between an executive chef and a goat.

Fairmont Newport Beach in California has adopted seven goats – Suzy Q, Snickers, Frankie, Lucy, Cali, Trixie and Taffy – as part of its focus on sustainability and local foods. In collaboration with local Drake Farms Goat Dairy, where the milk-producing goats actually live, the animals are cared for by dedicated farmers and staff and receive regular visits from the hotel’s executive chef Chad Blunston. With its team of goats, Drake Farms produces the organic goat cheese that  Chef Blunston uses in his creations for hotel guests.

Fairmont Newport Beach follows in the footsteps of Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth in Montreal, which adopted one goat, affectionately named Blanche Neige (Snow White, pictured above), last year. A registered “show goat” with an impressive pedigree, Blanche Neige was adopted from the local Fromagerie du Vieux St-François, where she still lives. Blanche Neige is a Saanen goat, a breed from the Saanen Valley of Switzerland. She produces cheese for the menu at The Beaver Club, as well as for sale at the Fairmont Store.

In nearby Quebec City, Executive Chef Jean Soulard of Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac recently added a few new tenants to his rooftop garden: five hens now reside alongside the hotel’s resident honey bees. Chantecler hens, the only 100 percent Québec breed, have been carefully selected by Chef Soulard and have been placed in a coop equipped with a copper roof that matches the architecture of the hotel and fed only organic grains.

Now that is a fancy hen house!

Goat Cheese Pannacotta
Courtesy of Fairmont Hotels

20 white asparagus, sliced
6 teaspoons clarified butter
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1/4 cup shallots, chopped
1/2 cup fresh goat cheese
1 cup milk
1 cup whipping cream
1 leaf gelatin
Salt, pepper, to taste
Fresh basil

Melt clarified butter in heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add asparagus slices, shallots and garlic. Sauté until soft but not brown. Add liquid and cook for approx. 45 minutes on low heat. Let cool. Transfer to blender. Add goat cheese, basil. Mix well for 3 minutes and add gelatin. Strain and pour in silicone molds (rectangular if you have). Refrigerate.

Courtesy of Fairmont Hotels

15 yellow tomatoes, peeled
1 cucumber, seeds removed
2 yellow peppers, peeled
Fresh mint
3 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
Salt, pepper

Mix well in blender and refrigerate.

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