Getting Fresh with a Farmer
Last summer, the boy I had just begun dating invited me to a farm dinner. “A farm dinner?” I thought, imagining sitting on a bale of hay with a paper plate in my lap, perhaps sitting next to a man in overalls and a straw hat. Of course, I smiled sweetly and said, “Yes! I would love to go to a farm dinner with you.”
I’m so glad I agreed to go, because I found out the farm dinner in question was a Plate and Pitchfork Farm Dinner. And the second we arrived at the totally adorable Smith Berry Barn and were greeted with a glass of Black Cap wine I fell in love with the farm dinner concept.
Here’s how it works: each dinner is held at a different farm and features a couple guest chefs from awesome local restaurants as well as a local winemaker. When you arrive, there’s appetizers and wine, and you get to kind of wander around a bit. Then, there’s a tour of the farm. You learn about the farm’s crops and the business philosophy of the farmer. The farm tour takes you out to the “dining room” where there are table set up with white linen table cloths, china and gorgeous bouquets of fresh flowers. And, then it’s time for amazing food.
The dinner we attended this year was held at Dancing Roots Farm in Troutdale. Our awesome chefs were from Tabla Mediterranean Bistro and Ten-01. The delicious wines were from Brooks. And, now on to the amazing food. We started with perhaps the most fantastic mixed green and herb salad I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. The salad was topped with a delicious Spanish bouche cheese. Perhaps most amazing is that the greens and herbs from the salad were picked from the farm that we were eating at just that day. How’s that for farm to table?
The next course was an olive oil poached albacore. I’d never had fish prepared this way but I was delighted to try this. The albacore was light and flaky and just perfect. This course was served with a 2007 Brooks Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, which was my favorite of the wine we tasted that evening. Next up was a grilled leg of lamb over squash, mint couscous and cherry tomatoes. The thing I remember most about this course was how tender the lamb was and how excited I got over the simple, yet delicious couscous. If I could make couscous like this, I’d eat it every night.
And, just when I thought I could eat nothing else, the most perfect dessert was placed in front of me – Grilled Pound Cake with Blackberry Compote and Chantilly Cream with just the slightest hint of pepper. At some point during the dessert course, my table mate and I noticed that an extra dessert had been placed at our table. It saddens me that the extra dessert was found by our server, because this grilled pound cake was so delicious that I would have gladly eaten a second – and without any guilt.
By the time dessert was over, the sun had set, and lanterns had been placed to guide us back to our cars. We headed for home with happy bellies and fond memories of an exquisite dinner.
about author Rhiannon West Chamberlain
Rhiannon is a native Oregonian who grew up exploring the nooks and crannies of the Oregon Coast and daydreaming in Powell’s City of Books. She now lives in NE Portland with her husband and her new baby boy and looks forward to teaching him to love Oregon as much as she does. Rhiannon attended both the University of Oregon and Portland State University, where she studied Journalism and Mass Media. She claims to ‘bleed green’ and happily cheers for both the Ducks and the Vikings every chance she gets. In her free time, Rhiannon enjoys sipping Oregon Pinot, finding new restaurants, bargain hunting and trying new recipes – sometimes successfully. She has a child-like enthusiasm for trying new things and rediscovering old ones – such as skee-ball, mini golf, and big slides.
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