There’s a new way of connecting folks with their food sources these days and boy, is it a lovely one…Farm-to-Table or Farm-to-Fork (I’ve seen them called both) dinners. Held at local farms and utilizing the crops-of-the-moment, area chefs will dream up fabulous dinners and serve them under the stars. From the farm to your fork with a whole lot of pleasure in between.
My husband and I had the opportunity to attend one of these dinners last week. It was a perfect June night- cloudless, almost a full moon, the gentlest of breezes…a light sweater kind of evening. The night began with a small walking tour of the farm, given by the fabulously knowledgable and enthusiastic woman who heads up the farm itself. As we visited the resident giant pig, chickens, hoop frame gardens lush with salad greens and garlic, we sipped fresh blackberry margaritas. It was somehow glamorous and rustic all at the same time-the perfect combination. We met the baby llama, with her inquiring stare and long, white eyelashes. The fluffy brown and black lambs munched on long grass as we walked by. We learned about bees and efficient mulching for our veggies.
Lights were strung all around the perimeter of the eating area, giving the impression of lingering fireflies in our midst. The white draped tables beckoned us to sit and written on an old window pane, our names directed us where.
First course…all of which were presented family style, so that you got to know your table-mates…
Braised Carrots with honey yogurt, baby greens, almonds and pumpkin seeds.
We were happily surprised by the presence of carrots this early in the season and marveled at their colors…light orange, deep persimmon-y orange, even some that were the color of a red wine. A sunset of colors on one plate.
Second Course…Black Bass with arugula, beets, cucumbers and fennel fritters. This bass was the only ingredient that did not originate on the farm, although it came from nearby. I’ve never eaten so many beets in one evening. Somehow, though, I totally missed the fennel fritters! Darn, I’ll have to go back for another dinner, now won’t I?
Third Course…Organic pork with kale, radishes, yukon potatoes, pickled mustard seeds and an egg. If I told you that this was only the second time in my life that I’ve ever eaten a whole, runny egg, you probably wouldn’t believe me but it’s true. Remember Amy Adams’ character in the movie Julie and Julia, when she says that she’s never eaten an egg because they always struck her as greasy and horrible? Yup, that’s me. But this egg…well, it was there and I just HAD to try it, of course, and it was magnificent. Somewhat like a savory version of a Cadbury cream egg…all gooey and rich and delicious inside. I’m glad I stepped out of my egg carton.
Final Course…dessert….Upside-Down Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with summer berry compote and marsala ice cream. All I can say is that the jar that it was served in really needed to be about the size of a kiddie pool. I could have eaten that much of it, it was so delicious…creamy, tart, amazingly light yet rich at the same time.
Bats came out to flutter among the tree tops. We saw their silhouettes dance among the dark leaves. Votive candles flickered and gave faces a beautiful glow. Forks clinked against plates, laughter rolled and a good time was had by all…of that, I’m sure.
Keep an eye out for these dinners and go to one if you can…it’s a truly unique night and your summer will be all the better for it!