Based in Toronto and New York City

, Nancy Matsumoto is a writer and editor who covers sustainable agriculture, food, sake, arts and culture.

Inside a Magical Pine-Themed Dinner

Pine Needle-Steamed Oysters After champagne and passed hors d’oeuvres, guests moved through a series of 12 “dining rooms” Stadtländer and his stagieres created in the forest, filled with whimsical art installations, hand-painted signage and rustic serving stations. First course: pine needle-steamed oysters with kohlrabi puree and Acadian sturgeon caviar from New Brunswick. Anisman’s pairing: 2012 Araujo Estate Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley

Pine Needle-Steamed Oysters

After champagne and passed hors d’oeuvres, guests moved through a series of 12 “dining rooms” Stadtländer and his stagieres created in the forest, filled with whimsical art installations, hand-painted signage and rustic serving stations. First course: pine needle-steamed oysters with kohlrabi puree and Acadian sturgeon caviar from New Brunswick. Anisman’s pairing: 2012 Araujo Estate Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley

In 1993, tired of the compromises of celebrity chefdom, Toronto chef Michael Stadtländer—who, along with fellow young gun Jamie Kennedy created the fine-dining beacon Scaramouche—waved goodbye to all that. He moved with his Okinawa-born wife Nobuyo to a 100-acre spread in Singhampton, Ontario and named it Eigensinn FarmThe New York Times dropped in on one of the couple’s intimate 18-guest farmhouse dinners four years later and proclaimed Eigensinn one of top three restaurants in the country. Stadtländer’s multi-course dinner “projects”—part art installation, part eco-activism, and brimming with culinary wizardry—are now cult happenings for those in the know. The chef’s most recent venture was “Pine Spiel,” a 12-course feast in the forest and celebration of all things pine. Raised on a farm near Lübeck Germany, Stadtländer says, “I grew up on the rivers and in the forest, so I have a great appreciation for the natural world.” When wine-collecting Toronto barrister Philip Anisman bought out a Pine Spiel and invited a number of friends to help celebrate his birthday, we guests were the ones who felt like it was our big day, not the other way around. The Stadtländers will be holding dinners for 12 at their farmhouse, weekends only, through October 22. Eight courses, $300 (CAN DLRS), BYOB, 7-11 p.m. For reservations: (519) 922-3128 —Nancy Matsumoto

Duck Breast Skewers Other than harvests from lake and sea and a few German and Japanese ingredients, almost everything served at Pine Spiel is grown organically or foraged on the farm. Duck breast skewers grilled over pine wood adorned a nuanced Cinderella squash soup along with duck confit and duck liver-wild apple cream. Pairing: 2007 Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc, Rhone.

Duck Breast Skewers

Other than harvests from lake and sea and a few German and Japanese ingredients, almost everything served at Pine Spiel is grown organically or foraged on the farm. Duck breast skewers grilled over pine wood adorned a nuanced Cinderella squash soup along with duck confit and duck liver-wild apple cream. Pairing: 2007 Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc, Rhone.

Mushroom Cannelloni with Wild Leek Pesto  In the “Vine Room” of the pine forest, a crowd favorite, mushroom cannelloni, cranked out by hand in the forest then filled with wild leek pesto, was served with sauteed chanterelles. Pairing: 2005 Hospices de Beaune Corton-Cuvée Charlotte Dumay Charles Thomas, Burgundy.

Mushroom Cannelloni with Wild Leek Pesto 

In the “Vine Room” of the pine forest, a crowd favorite, mushroom cannelloni, cranked out by hand in the forest then filled with wild leek pesto, was served with sauteed chanterelles. Pairing: 2005 Hospices de Beaune Corton-Cuvée Charlotte Dumay Charles Thomas, Burgundy.

The Vine Room The Vine Room featured wreaths fashioned out of wild lambrusco grape vines that emerge from the Niagara Escarpment soil of Eigensinn and neighboring farms.

The Vine Room

The Vine Room featured wreaths fashioned out of wild lambrusco grape vines that emerge from the Niagara Escarpment soil of Eigensinn and neighboring farms.

Green Beans with Wild Apples Pine forest-grown green beans sauteed with diced wild apples. “What ties it all together,” says Stadtländer, is the paper-thin crispy shards of pine-smoked bacon, which were brined in salt, pepper, honey, maple syrup, coriander, juniper, garlic and “lots ground up pine needles.” A five-week long low-smoke over maple chips and chopped pine wood completed the process. Pairing: 2012 Hubert Lamy Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Macherelles, Burgundy

Green Beans with Wild Apples

Pine forest-grown green beans sauteed with diced wild apples. “What ties it all together,” says Stadtländer, is the paper-thin crispy shards of pine-smoked bacon, which were brined in salt, pepper, honey, maple syrup, coriander, juniper, garlic and “lots ground up pine needles.” A five-week long low-smoke over maple chips and chopped pine wood completed the process. Pairing: 2012 Hubert Lamy Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Macherelles, Burgundy

The Treehouse A treehouse that rests on 100-year-old cedar logs, designed by the chef and built by Amish carpenters. Stadtländer stands, below, with chef de cuisine Min Young Lee, with stagieres above. The tongue-in-cheek inscription on the treehouse, “Schnell Imbis, Neu Schweinstein a div. Leckerschmerker,” is a sarcastic reference to fast food culture and a porcine pun on the Bavarian castle Neuschwanstein.

The Treehouse

A treehouse that rests on 100-year-old cedar logs, designed by the chef and built by Amish carpenters. Stadtländer stands, below, with chef de cuisine Min Young Lee, with stagieres above. The tongue-in-cheek inscription on the treehouse, “Schnell Imbis, Neu Schweinstein a div. Leckerschmerker,” is a sarcastic reference to fast food culture and a porcine pun on the Bavarian castle Neuschwanstein.

Black Currant and Rhubarb Sorbets Palate cleanser: a marbling of two fruit sorbets, one made with Eigensinn black currants cooked down with apple cider, pine shoot honey and gin, the other made with rhubarb, wood sorrel, pine needles, pine shoot honey, Chartreuse and kefir.

Black Currant and Rhubarb Sorbets

Palate cleanser: a marbling of two fruit sorbets, one made with Eigensinn black currants cooked down with apple cider, pine shoot honey and gin, the other made with rhubarb, wood sorrel, pine needles, pine shoot honey, Chartreuse and kefir.

The Japanese Room The “Japanese room” featured antique kimono sashes, or obi, wrapped around the pine trees. The salad course was served here.

The Japanese Room

The “Japanese room” featured antique kimono sashes, or obi, wrapped around the pine trees. The salad course was served here.

Salad of Eigensinn Tomatoes and Vegetables Salad of Eigensinn tomatoes, radishes, peppers and tangles of delicate mozuku seaweed, a prized specialty harvested off the coast of Nobuyo Stadtländer’s native Okinawa. The salad and the next course—a 100 percent-farm raised dish of pine wood-grilled chicken ballotine stuffed with Cinderella squash on a pine-buttermilk potato puree—was paired with a 1982 Penfold Grange Hermitage Shiraz, South Australia.

Salad of Eigensinn Tomatoes and Vegetables

Salad of Eigensinn tomatoes, radishes, peppers and tangles of delicate mozuku seaweed, a prized specialty harvested off the coast of Nobuyo Stadtländer’s native Okinawa. The salad and the next course—a 100 percent-farm raised dish of pine wood-grilled chicken ballotine stuffed with Cinderella squash on a pine-buttermilk potato puree—was paired with a 1982 Penfold Grange Hermitage Shiraz, South Australia.

Chef de Cuisine Min Young Lee, whose dedication has led him to have the word “Eigensinn” tatooed on his forearm, prepped a salad plate.

Chef de Cuisine Min Young Lee, whose dedication has led him to have the word “Eigensinn” tatooed on his forearm, prepped a salad plate.

Canadian Black Forest Cake The chef’s heritage was reflected in a “Canadian Black Forest Cake à la Lübeck,” topped with marzipan from Stadtländer’s hometown that was rolled into medallions, brushed with tempered dark chocolate, refrigerated and then rolled again. Pairing: 1981 Chateau Reynella Vintage Port, South Australia.

Canadian Black Forest Cake

The chef’s heritage was reflected in a “Canadian Black Forest Cake à la Lübeck,” topped with marzipan from Stadtländer’s hometown that was rolled into medallions, brushed with tempered dark chocolate, refrigerated and then rolled again. Pairing: 1981 Chateau Reynella Vintage Port, South Australia.

Stagieres in the treehouse used fishing poles to lower pretzel bun “bait,” the specialty of Hermann Stadtländer, Eigensinn’s maitre ’d (and son of the chef and Nobuyo). Nobuyo buttered the rolls to accompany pan-fried Lake Erie pickerel with tarragon mayonnaise, cucumber salad and pine-maple pickled wild leeks. The fish-shaped plates are the handiwork of Eigensinn stagieres. Pairing: 2008 Peter Michael Ma Belle-Fille Chardonnay, Sonoma.

Stagieres in the treehouse used fishing poles to lower pretzel bun “bait,” the specialty of Hermann Stadtländer, Eigensinn’s maitre ’d (and son of the chef and Nobuyo). Nobuyo buttered the rolls to accompany pan-fried Lake Erie pickerel with tarragon mayonnaise, cucumber salad and pine-maple pickled wild leeks. The fish-shaped plates are the handiwork of Eigensinn stagieres. Pairing: 2008 Peter Michael Ma Belle-Fille Chardonnay, Sonoma.

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