The end of life is an everyday reality at Hospice of Spokane. That’s why everyday celebrations are so important to those behind the scenes of northeast Washington’s only nonprofit hospice care center.
Once each year, they invite the community to celebrate life with them during an evening of wine, beer and spirits paired with gourmet food at the Spokane Club. Taste of Life has been bringing hospice supporters together since 2006. This year, the fundraiser will be held from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. March 30.
The money raised goes directly to the programs that support and comfort people who are near the end of their lives.
“We don’t turn away anybody if they are not able to pay,” explained Dale Hammond, director of development and communications for Hospice of Spokane. “So, we had to come up with a way to remain financially strong while doing that, and this is one of the ways we do it … The money goes directly to making sure that families and patients get the care that they need.”
The majority of hospice care is provided at the dying person’s home, whether they live in a house, an assisted living facility or a nursing home. Hospice provides nurses, social workers and chaplains, as well as medication and equipment needed to keep patients comfortable. Hospice also has 300 volunteers who help with services such as massage, music and visits from pets.
Hospice of Spokane also offers community bereavement services, such as a children’s grief program and support groups for those who have lost loved ones.
This is the third year Spokane Club chef Urs Moser has prepared the menu of dishes to pair with wines for Taste of Life. Moser and a team of tasters sipped through offerings from 14 area vintners seeking complementary dishes.
Among the pairings on the menu are: Caterina Winery’s 2010 Chardonnay with Dungeness crab cakes and mango salsa (recipe follows); Lone Canary 2008 Syrah with confit duck spring roll and plum sauce; Liberty Lake Cellars 2008 Syrah with braised lamb cassoulet; Latah Creek Wine Cellars NV Monarch Red Blend with pulled pork slider and balsamic strawberry jam; Emvy Cellars Devotion with polenta and wild mushroom ragout; Robert Karl Cellars 2009 Claret with house-cured gravlax and mustard sauce; Grande Ronde Cellars 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon with pear and blue cheese flatbread served with onion jam; and Knipprath Cellars Spanish Nudge with petit fours.
“Pairing food and wine is a personal thing,” Moser said. “It’s important to go with what you like. I think there are really no rules in a sense.”
Tasting and experimenting is important and all part of the fun, he said. “Taste the wine and either go with the wine. If there is a little plum, go with it and prepare something that has a sauce with plums or something like that. Or, go totally opposite. … Take a dry wine, for example, and prepare something that is very fruity.”
Moser said the crab cakes he’ll serve at the event are very simple and pair nicely with Caterina chardonnay. For those making it at home, it’s important to get very fresh Dungeness crab for the recipe.
“This particular chardonnay is very light on oak so it’s going to go very nicely with the sweet crab,” he said.
Several other dishes will be served at the fundraiser, including a perennial favorite grown-up macaroni and cheese spiked with sharp cheddar and Point Reyes blue cheese. Beer from local breweries and Washington wheat vodka from Dry Fly Distillery also will be offered.
Guests will have a chance to talk to winemakers, brewers and distillers and buy wines they like.
Tickets are $75 each and can be purchased by calling (509) 532-6731 or online at www.hospiceof spokane.org/taste. For a listing of wine and dish pairings, participating wineries and breweries go to www.spokesman.com/ blogs/too-many-cooks/
Here is Moser’s recipe for the crab cakes:
Pan-fried Dungeness Crab Cakes with Mango Salsa
From chef Urs Moser, Spokane Club. Moser recommends pairing this crab cake with Caterina Winery 2010 Chardonnay.
For the crab cakes:
1 pound fresh Dungeness crab meat
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, minced
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup panko
Pinch cayenne pepper
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1 whole egg, beaten lightly
Flour and additional panko
For the mango salsa:
1 ripe small mango, diced
1/4 jalapeño pepper, diced
1/4 small red onion, diced
1 small tomato, seeded and diced
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 bunch cilantro
Salt and black pepper, to taste
To make the crab cakes, combine crab, onion, tarragon, mayonnaise, 1/2 cup panko, cayenne and salt and pepper, to taste, in a bowl. Mix gently. Divide into 8 equal portions and shape into small cakes. Place in refrigerator for 1 hour to set.
Bread crab cakes by dipping in egg, flour and panko. Pan-fry crab cakes until golden on both sides.
To make the mango salsa, combine ingredients and mix well. Serve salsa on top of finished crab cakes.
Yield: 8 crab cakes