The day started out drizzly and dark, but the clouds parted JUST in time for our guests to comfortably wander the farm last Saturday evening.
The musicians set up under the big oak tree. It was humid, but the breeze started clearing the air a bit and we set the table.
While guests started to arrive, the team assembled the first course - Garden Boards and Trio of Savory Sauces . Tiny spring and summer vegetables harvested from the farm the day before were skewered and suspended above three very different sauces - Blueberry Vinaigrette, Aged Cashew Labne and Herb Pistou (aka, Fancy Ranch) and Fermented Black Bean Baba Ganoush with Kalamata and Roasted Garlic. Boards were presented simultaneously to all three tables. This year, we were interested in making a bit of dinner theater happen.
As guests enjoyed the baby veggies and sauces, the first of two sangrias was poured - a Pineapple Champagne recipe, with fresh citrus and local peaches.
Chef Julia and Farmer Jay kicked off the dinner with a few remarks. "We've been working together for 5 years now, and we're grateful to have you all here!"
Meanwhile, back at the staging area, Chef Sara was busy at the grill, toasting gluten free baguettes to perfection. It was almost time for course two: Heirloom Corn Marrow with Seeded Toasts, Salad of Baby Fennel, and Tomato Caramel.
Those two little tomatoes in the back had a story, and Chef Julia spoke about it just before people dug in: "Both of these tomatoes are referred to as Sungold Cherry Tomatoes. One of them was organically grown in Mexico and picked sometime between 4 and 6 weeks ago. It's been travelling in refrigeration and sitting on a grocery shelf since. The other was grown 15 feet from where we're sitting and was picked yesterday. See if you can't tell which is which, I bet you can! And remember, the pleasures of a just-picked, perfect heirloom tomato will only continue to exist in our lives if we support small, organic growers like Robin and Jay and Bell's Best Berries."
By that time the sun was just beginning to set.
Time for course three: Foraged Salad with Tiny Pickled Grapes, Pine Nut Chevre Rosettes, Golden Balsamic "Honey" . This year, we decided to put the salad in the center of the meal, since salad is close to our hearts at Nourish. This one was made very special by the myriad leaves it contained - Purslane, Lemon Balm, Chard, Savory, Dandelion and Horseradish Greens, and Malabar Spinach, just to name a few. There were small rosettes of pine nut "chevre" and pickled baby grapes from Dover Vinyards as well as a golden balsamic reduction.
As day turned to night, the staff switched to our red sangria - Pomegranate and Blueberry, made with some of Farmer Robin's famous berries.
Time for course four! Cacio e Pepe and Maitake Mushroom Bagna Càuda, Summer Greens Three Ways. Heavily influenced by Italian countryside cuisine, this course was the heartiest, with a serving of "parmesan"-dusted rice spaghetti with fresh ground black pepper, slow-braised greens from the garden plot next to us, a raw massaged kale salad, and seared green beans with a kicky chili oil drizzled over.
We were most excited about those tiny mushroom "anchovies" just above the pasta - smoked, brined and oil-cured Maitakes from our friends at Urban Gourmet Farms. They were delicious.
Night settles, and the staff prepares for dessert.
Our dessert course this year: Featherweight Sponge with “Honeycomb” Ice Cream, Lemon Curd and Fresh Berry Compote . It was most of our guests' favorite course, as dessert often is.
That orange candy atop the ice cream? Vegan "honeycomb", colored deep orange by organic saffron. And of course, Robin's famous Blueberries with very little done to them other than saucing them with a little pureed blueberry and coconut sugar. Caroline's much labored-over sponge soaked up the lemon curd beautifully, and the tiny details played wonderfully against plates and golden wares rented from our friends at VTGCLT.
To end the night, we served herbal teas from Chef Sara's company, Little Sey Salt Cures, and treated our guests to a bonfire and fire dancing performance, a beautiful play between our friends from Satarah dance troupe and the fabulous jazz musicians that had been serenading us all evening (thank you Chris and Dennis!).
Thank you to everyone who came to our 3rd annual farm to table dinner. We are already planning a Fall event, so stay tuned! And don't forget to support your local farmers and the lucky chefs that get to work with such gorgeous produce.
Your Nourish Team
All photos: Katie Rothweiler
Want to read more? Head over to CLTure for Shirley Griffith's fab review of the dinner!