03 February 2011

The Canebrake Restaurant - food grown on site or within 50-miles - a delicious retreat

Whether you go to The Canebrake Restaurant/Resort near Wagoner for Saturday lunch, Sunday brunch or dinner any night, chances are that you will be served something either grown on the 400-acre property or from a grower within a 50-mile radius.


Owner and chef Sam Bracken said, “In the four years we have been here, there has been an amazing uptick in the local, seasonal and sustainable practices and food sources we have found to use. There are so many high quality ingredients available here.”

In the greenhouse - Sam Bracken, owner and chef, The Canebrake
The Brackens grow many of the fruits, vegetables and herbs used in the preparation of the food served in the restaurant and plan to do more. Right now, Kurt and Melba Bowman tend a fenced vegetable garden and greenhouse.

“We grow our own tomatoes, peppers, scallions, cucumbers, summer squash, wax beans and peas,” Bracken said. “We use the wild persimmons, pears and blackberries that grow naturally on the property.”

They grow the vegetables both from seed and from purchased seedlings and the kitchen staff does a lot of the harvesting.

This week, the greenhouse shelves are lined with seed-starting trays, and pots of herbs they are using in the bar and in the kitchen. Lining the other side of the greenhouse are the ferns and other large pots of plants that are being overwintered. Hanging pots hold wheat grass and other culinary plants.

A bundle of wheat grass garnishes a (delicious) cocktail.
Outside the kitchen door a recycled trough holds faded herb plants that will be replanted in the spring with seedlings. Bracken said that the kitchen staff harvests fresh herbs from the planter in the summer and from the greenhouse in the winter.

Inside the kitchen there were trays of dried herbs that were grown and preserved on-site last year. The herbs they grow on the property include garlic, chives, thyme, sage, basil, oregano, cilantro, and parsley.

Marketing director, Adam Miller said that one of the other new trends represented at the Canebrake is environmentally friendly foraging. (See http://foraging.com)

“This property has so many diverse plants growing on it that we can use,” Miller said. “Wild food we collect on the property to use includes native pecans, elderberries, morels, oyster mushrooms, and the flowers we use on the tables. And, we use the fallen hickory branches to smoke meat.”

Most of the products used in food and drink preparation are touched by local suppliers. The jam served at brunch is made on-site with Porter peaches, the sun dried tomato jam is made from their own tomatoes, the honey they use is from a farm in Bixby and they plan to put bee hives onto the property.
Trays of seeds are ready to produce this spring's fresh herbs for the kitchen and dining room.
Many of the items on the menu are not grown on their ranch but are grown locally. For example, Progressive Produce in Bixby supplies heirloom melons, squash and tomatoes as well as salad greens. Pork & Greens supplies the pork, Fioravanti Ranch raises the bison, Clear Creek Monastery makes the cheese and the beef is hormone free, sustainably raised from farms in OK, AR and MO.

“The catfish we serve is U.S. raised, the potatoes are from CO and the apples are from WA,” Bracken said.

The Canebrake composts their green waste and is interested in joining other restaurants that have set a goal of being trash free.

In recognition of the Brackens’ commitment to sustainable practices, the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Dept and the OK Dept of Environmental Quality awarded the Canebrake their gold certification as a sustainable tourism destination.

The summer seating patio is beautiful no matter what season you go.
Guests of the restaurant and lodge can roam the property via 4.5 miles of walking paths that wander through fields and woods.

If you plan to go, it is a good idea to make reservations: The Canebrake, 33241 E. 732nd Road

Wagoner, OK, www.thecanebrake.com, 918-485-1810.

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