Sunday, August 2, 2015

Farm-to-Fork Dinner

Last weekend, to close out my birthday celebration, I got to check off an experience from my bucket list. Yippee!! Ever since I learned it was a thing, I’ve wanted to have a lovely, gourmet, communal outdoor farm-to-fork meal. I pictured a long rustic, yet polished wooden table set for a full dinner for anywhere between 30 and 100 people. This vision was very likely inspired by some piece of marketing by some winery or other that we toured before kids.

Despite the winery influence to my daydream, all the pairing dinners that we heard of by us were inside, usually in a barrel room, and lacked the rustic charm I’d envisioned. Them, a couple months ago I heard of a dinner that seemed to fit the dream perfectly. Our current CSA* (they deliver to our door!) was hosting a farm-to-for dinner at a local farm with proceeds benefiting the San Diego Food Bank, a cause I truly believe in and want to support in a more hands-on way in the future. So, we eagerly purchased our tickets, arranged for my parents to watch the kiddos and ventured to the farm.

The Scene
What greeted us was a beautiful, breathtaking scene of long tables in a zig-zag design, arranged under some tall, leafy eucalyptus trees, set with white linens and prepared for a feast. I estimate the tables were set for at least 100 guests. It was gorgeous, set with florals and the communal feel I’d dreamed. The dinner began, however, with drinks and appetizers in an area set apart slightly from the tables, overlooking the farmland. There, we enjoyed local beer from Ballast Point and the most amazing appetizers.

The Food
After appetizers and a brief farm tour, we joined other couples at a shady spot of the long tables set for the three-course meal. The first course was a watermelon salad with fresh watermelon, raspberries and red onions. This isn’t the sort of salad I usually choose, but it was so sweet with the uber-fresh watermelon and raspberries, and it was wonderfully refreshing from the hot day. This was followed by seared bay scallops in a smoked corn shishito pepper salsa. Again, not what I would normally choose from a menu, but it was absolutely wonderful. The main entrĂ©e was smoked hanger steak, cooked medium rare and served with truffled cauliflower custard, pickled chard and fried chickpeas. It all finished with individually served roasted peach tarts. They were amazing! What an indulgent dinner.

The Experience
The event was wonderful. It started and lasted through the afternoon, finishing right around when we would normally sit down for dinner. The timing was a bit odd to me, but made sense that we could comfortably enjoy the meal in the afternoon sun and not need to worry about rushing the sunset to see. We loved the relaxing atmosphere of being on the farm and of the cocktails and appetizers first served. The farm tour that followed was hosted by the farm owners and extremely insightful. Dinner was served family style and delicious. I loved the communal element of food being served family style, but our one complaint was that there ought to have been a larger quantity of food as it was sometimes hard for some at our full table to even sample the delicacies served. Thankfully, nobody seemed to leave hungry. And, as we dined, we heard about the history of the CSA, the farm, the beer, the wine and food bank. We were also treated to comments on the food selection and cooking from the chef. Much of the time, talents and goods were donated for the dinner, thereby increasing the donation available to give to the food bank to serve the hungry and food insecure populations in our community.

Everything was beautiful and very local. If anything, they limited themselves by the extreme locality of all the food, wine and beer. I hadn’t realized just how local everything would be – the only thing not sourced from within the County of San Diego was the meat, and that was explained to us by the chef to be because we don’t have a meat processing facility here. I’m so glad to have been fortunate enough to experience this event with Husby. Maybe, in a few years, we’ll next try one of the wine pairing events in a winery barrel room. ;)

*Curious about eating local or trying out a CSA? Check out my post on tiptoeing into farm-fresh produce from a CSA. And,if you’re interested in Farm Fresh to You, our current go-to CSA (because we can customize our veggies and they make my hectic life simpler by delivering to my door!!), use code ERIK6111 for $10 off your first box.

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