AT THE TABLE WITH TREANA:
SETTING THE EUROPEAN TABLE
No matter what part of the world you are from, friendships and connections are solidified around the table. Our 'At the Table with Treana' series shares these moments where recipes, conversation and culture intersect.
It’s al fresco dining season again and we’re back with our founder Treana Peake’s signature style for summer – a blend of food, drink, and tableware to make your outside time outstanding. Warm summer breezes, chilled rosé, and simple, Mediterranean appetizers set a European table for the main event: Whole baked Branzino infused with citrus and baked in salt.
WE START WITH BAKED OLIVES
Did you know that the olive is one of the oldest known cultivated trees in the world, populating the Mediterranean basin about 6,000 years ago? And that olive oil is considered holy and sacred and used in many religious ceremonies? We personally consider olives themselves to be sacred – as an easy and impressive appetizer.
Mediterranean Roasted Olives
Olives (you decide how many)
Whole garlic, ends cut
Fresh herbs of choice
Cold pressed olive oil
This is so easy. Just throw a bunch of olives into a cast iron pan with some whole garlic heads, trimmed, and your herbs of choice. Drizzle with olive oil, then roast at 375 in a pre-heated oven until the garlic is soft. Serve it with a French baguette, or any other crusty loaf, and you’ll have a sophisticated, healthy starter made with limited effort.
What Exactly is Branzino?
If you’ve been in a restaurant lately, you have probably seen it on a menu. Popular in Italian cuisine, Branzino is a mild white fish with sweet, flaky meat. It has become increasingly popular with chefs around the world in recent years and is showing up on more and more international menus and at fish markets. Also called European Sea Bass (among other names like Sea Perch or Loup de Mer), it is generally cooked whole and with lemon, although it can be poached or braised.
Whole Baked Branzino in Salt with Citrus and Rosemary
1 whole fresh branzino (2-3 lbs), scaled and cleaned – they can do this at the fish market for you
1 bunch fresh rosemary
3 cups kosher salt
3 egg whites
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, and line the baking pan with parchment paper. Stuff fish with orange slices, lemon slices and rosemary sprigs.
2. Combine egg whites and salt to make a paste. Cover the fish – this will seal in all the juices and flavours. The citrus and rosemary will be subtle flavours but the fish itself is the prize.
3. Cook for 20 minutes. The salt will form a hard crust, crack this with the back of a spoon. And voila, your fish is ready.
Recipe serves 4 .
The Other Dishes
Bake a few clusters of grapes and throw them in a small bowl on the table as an extra (yes, really, google it). Add some attention-getting veggies, such as purple asparagus or green tomatoes with burrata on the side, and your European table is reality.
And for dessert? A simple granita does the trick, the semi-frozen treat from Sicily. Blend your favourite fruit and liquor, then freeze it. Once frozen, scape it into ice chunks and add ice cream. This dinner is so wonderfully easy to prepare, leaving you to enjoy your own party. Buon appetito.
We like a crisp rosé for this, such as Cowichan Valley-based Blue Grouse Vineyards & Winery’s Quill Rosé or Bartier Scholefield Rosé from Okanagan Crush Pad Organic Winery. Or, if you are partial to white wine, pair it with your favourite. The fish itself is sweet and not too strong at all, so you can go with a more robust white if that’s your preference, although it will also pair nicely with a bright, light-tasting wine. Craft ciders and beers are too much and will overpower the flavour of this delicate yet delightful white fish.
A Local Guide to Buying Fresh Fish and Artisanal Olives
Looking for Sicilian, Kalamata, Niçoise, Picholine, Cerignola, Taggiasca, Moroccan or Castelvetrano olives? Look no further than the Dundarave Olive Company for these artisanal olives, and many others.
Seafood City in the Granville Island Market carries fresh Branzino, as does 7Seas Fish Market on 4th Ave. and The Fish Monger in West Vancouver, but it’s not always available, so call around before you head out.
Many local seafood markets in Canada and the US have this special fish on their radar so check at your favourite local market.
Setting Your European Table
Setting your table is almost as important as the food. A good visual presentation will always enhance flavours.
Use European table linens as a backdrop to frame your plating skills – such as our whimsical, hand-embroidered tablecloths and table runners from French artist, Sarah Espeute (coming soon!) Her work is finely detailed and is the perfect background for any meal.
To really enhance your plating game, challenge yourself by using our solid colour ceramic tableware. Make the food the star of the show – your plate is a blank canvas. And our handmade Oaxacan red clay pottery is perfect for nuts or Italian pepperoncini nibbles before the appetizer.
Our Italian carafes, glasses and olive oil bottles are perfect for al fresco dining thanks to the durability of borosilicate glass. And you can even use the carafes as vases.
In fact, we’ve got even more ideas for your summer tablescape in our collection of artisan-made linens, pottery, ceramics, and glass. Bring Europe to your dinner table this summer and treat your guests to a meal on the continent – in your own backyard.
SHOP THE STORY
My pottery is inspired by the generations that came before me who have passed down this sacred craft. In my community you are born, raised and live each day by the clay—the Holy Mother. Every part of my being is woven through the story of this magical mud.
Summertime, and the living is easy. In this week's Journal, we take you to the magical Italian island of Sardinia. Perhaps a quick pit stop for a refreshing summer cocktail might be in order.
I try to marry modern and classic design while taking cues from the environment of the Pacific Northwest around us. I like the idea of having a timeless aesthetic, distilling the essence of a space, and focusing on tactile and natural materials that don’t feel rooted in a single moment in time.