Pit for Your Supper at The Irish Heather (Long Table Series)

Pit for Your Supper at The Irish Heather

The press release for “Pit for Your Supper at The Irish Heather” started with “What happens when you combine over 2,000 pounds of fresh cherries, approximately 50 volunteers and a 40-foot long table?”… you get free labour for free dinner. That’s basically what this event comes down to.

The Irish Heather has sent out a public call for people to come “pit for your dinner”. It’s a weekly event that begins at 7pm on Wednesday July 18th with Okanagan cherries for the first 4 weeks. After cherries come local apricots, peaches, apples and pears. Pit for Your Supper happens every Wednesday straight through to September. At 9pm the 50 volunteers (must sign up on a first come, first serve basis) are served a dinner with a beer pairing compliments of the restaurant.

To be honest, I didn’t look before I leapt and when I was invited to this event I went in dough-eyed and naive. At first it sounded brutal, but then I thought pitting 2000 pounds of cherries spread over 50 people wouldn’t be bad. I thought it would take about an hour or so and I opted in, but after pitting 10 cherries I was wondering how to opt out. It’s not that the event was necessarily bad, but I really should have read the event details and I just wasn’t prepared at all. I’ll call it a once in a lifetime experience for me.

This was my station. I felt like I was in prison the chocolate episode of I Love Lucy. They gave us cherry pitters which made the pitting process easier, but we had to pit for 2 hours, which actually felt like 2 hours for me. It said in the event details start time 7pm and dinner at 9pm, but I thought an hour would have been making cherry pies to have for dessert. My fault for making assumptions, but it would have made the event more fun.

Pitting cherries is repetitive lemming work, so while it is nice to do mindless activities sometimes, I can only do them for so long. It’s a personality thing, but 20 minutes and I start to get antsy. I was just brought back to memories of making 200 pies, and thank goodness I was in good company or I really don’t think I would have enjoyed it. Having said that, others did enjoy it, so it’s just not an activity for everyone.

If you sign up, I highly recommend going with friends you want to catch up with and not wearing white or long sleeves. If they didn’t give me an apron I would have been lady in red. Pitting cherries is messy business. If you’re solo, it’s also good for meeting people and you will already know you have something in common since you both signed up for the activity. Either you truly love cherries and pitting them, or you’re really eager for free dinner and beer.

I’m a culinary geek so I like anything to do with food, but there’s nothing too culinary about pitting cherries, so even if you’ve never done it before, have no fear… it’s as easy as hole punching paper.

So where the heck are 2000 pounds of cherries going? The cherries are being used for food and beverage items at The Heather Hospitality Group Restaurants. They plan to use all the fruits that volunteers help pit and core for condiments such as sun dried cherries, apricot chutney, apricot and pear jam and fresh fruit fillings for their pastries. There will also be a release of either the Cherry Wheat Ale or an Apple Brown Ale availably only at Bitter restaurant.

I think at one point I actually asked if caviar was going to be served for dinner. Again, it’s not an activity that is meant for everyone. Be prepared. So if there’s no charity aspect to this volunteering then where is the benefit? Well, that’s where dinner comes in.

Driftwood Fat Tug IPA from Victoria, BC

Your choice of Meat or Vegetarian:

Meat option: Spiced pork loin served with potato salad and fresh cut slaw

Vegetarian option: Fried green onion polenta, white bean and garlic puree, topped with a zucchini salad

I’m not going to lie, but for 2 hours of labour I was expecting at least a 3 course dinner inspired by cherries. I would have loved to see cherries in the dinner. I thought that was the point. The food was on par with their regular dinners featured at their usual Long Table Series (LTS) dinners, it was nothing more and nothing less. It’s good, safe, and suits the majority of tastes which makes sense in this Long Table Series context.

I honestly enjoy the regular Long Table Series at The Irish Heather and I think it’s a great bang for your buck, but in this case I felt like I was out some bucks. A typical LTS here is $18, so $18 for 2 hours of work… just don’t finish that calculation. Again, if you’re in it to have fun, which people did, then go for it! Don’t let my sour cherry perspective get in your way. They don’t rush you and you don’t have a quota of cherries to meet, but they’re not joking when they say “pit for your dinner”.

I still think it would be nice to have a portion of the dinner where we got to fill cherry pies to have for dessert or something… and music wouldn’t be bad either. Anyway you get a bag of cherries to take home at the end too, but I had to leave early so I missed it. I’m not sure how big the bag is, but I don’t think it would have changed anything for me, unless it was a garbage bag full. Okay I’ll stop, but let’s just say I would rather pay for my LTS dinner, which I’ve enjoyed very much in the past.

To volunteer e-mail: reso@irishheather.com

To view the full schedule of events visit: www.ltsmenu.blogspot.ca

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