There really is nothing like a farm dinner.
A long table that can sit 120 people is set up in an open meadow. The table is elegantly appointed with a white tablecloth, delicate garden flowers, sparkling stemware and pure white dishes. All around you is the beauty of a summer garden coming into its own. You meet folks who love local food and are thrilled to be eating outside.
This is the second year that my husband and I and our dear friend Julie attended the annual Arcadia Farm Dinner. Dark clouds threatened to dump rain on the event, but the weather held and we stayed dry. Chef Tony Chittum, formerly of Vermillion and soon to captain the kitchen at the newly renovated Iron Gate, prepared a great feast.
The luxuriant dinner started hand rolled phyllo tart with morel mushrooms, swiss chard, fresh ricotta and crispy ham and a lovely mixed baby green salad. Next, a delicately spiced and grilled chicken sausage was served with stone ground white polenta, red onion and rhubarb “agro dolce” (an Italian version of sweet and sour sauce). And then came the rabbit, specifically, a braised Pennsylvania rabbit with dill cavatelli, olives, hot house tomatoes and two mustards. Fall off the bone good and flavored perfectly.
And then came the pig. Be still my beating heart! A melt in your mouth charcoal roasted Tamworth pig shredded and served with snap pea, asparagus and spring radish as well as house-made focaccia.
Each of the aforementioned courses was served with wines from Virginia from a distinctive list of producers including Thibaut-Janisson, Early Mountain, Ankida Ridge, Barboursville and Catoctin Creek. To wrap up this lusciousness, a ricotta and summer berry crostata adeptly prepared by pastry chef Tiffany MacIsaac was a lovely and light ending to a glorious meal.
In the quieting haze of the summer evening, people ambled towards their cars well fed and well nourished from the great hospitality and fellowship. Can’t wait till next year.
If you are interested in attending a farm dinner, just Google “farm dinner” and you are sure to find one in your area. Another resource is Outstanding in the Field. Their 2013 season and locations are here. Or you can check out Arcadia’s efforts here.