Dinner on the Farm 2011 – A Starry Night of Good Food
A soft sunset, a twinkling lit table and people passionate about food and where it comes from in abundance — these were the makings of Dinner on the Farm, a seasonally hosted event for The Center for Land-Based Learning. From teaching students where their food comes from (this in itself is no small deal) to helping train farmers to be farmers (new-generation farmers) this is a invaluable resource to the community.
This nonprofit benefits the land and the people who till the soil, and when all the day’s work is done, they sat down and broke bread with their supporters. The drive out to Winters in Yolo County is always a departing from the norm, taking in the country in, in all its glory.
Once at our destination, we were met with a cocktail reception including gin gimlets with basil and bourbon sours with celery-onion bitters and mint. The master mixologists at Slow Club in San Francisco were working up a frenzy with all the large crowd around their bar table, but the servers kept the crowd at bay with:
Dark & Stormy butternut squash soup with crème fraîche and pineapple mint
Assorted pizzas from the outdoor oven — melon and mission pixtos
After we all joined at the tables, the fun really began. Like kids at a summer camp table, everyone made new friends all around, networking with fellow foodies, with culinary gossip running rampant. But one tenant remained true: All attending were passionate about food and talking about food, while eating incredible food.
Roasted chicories and delicata squash salad with caerphilly cheese, candied seeds and orange-brown butter vinaigrette
(This one was already gone by the time the plate reached me. The masses were hungry!)
Seasonal greens with cherry tomatoes, breakfast radishes and sherry-mustard vinaigrette
Marinated beets with ricotta salata, herbs and citrus vinaigrette
(Personal fave — loved the sharpness of the cheese and they earthiness of the beets.)
Handkerchief pasta with roasted chicken, spinach, tomatoes and romano
(Soft al dente-cooked pasta, pulled chicken and savory salty romano/spinach on top — simple, elegant, rustic and filling.)
Lamb roulade with caponata, grilled bread with tomato jam and white anchovy
(The lamb roulade was outstanding, and many a patrons’ favorite. The caponata was soft and tender, the lamb toothsome and perfectly seasoned. I personally loved the grilled bread.)
Roast pig with braised collard greens and twice-baked yams accompanied by apple butter, mustard and hot sauce
(Roast pig? Come on. The meal was getting pretty insane at this point. When the apple butter and hot sauce were mixed, they were even better! Plus the yams were all butter and sugar, just the way they should be.)
Comté and tomme with candied walnuts, fig jam and pickled strawberry preserves
(This was a special offering from the new cheese rooms of Turkovich Wine and now Cheeses. Their tomme and comté, both French in style, were creamy, soft and paired beautifully with the preserves. You can find these cheese coming soon at Winters Cheese Co.)
There was so much to love in these courses. Plus, who doesn’t love a cheese plate at the end of a meal? Fantastic touch!
So when all the wine was drunk and the speeches said, the dessert was served, and it was right up there with the pork and the bourbon.
Chocolate-walnut frangipane tart with candied walnuts and vanilla chantilly
(Super chocolatey, soft cream and sharp, sweet, earthy candied walnuts — insane!)
Pear tart with almond crème, fresh huckleberries and vanilla ice cream
(Almonds, berries, cream and pears, as if the chocolate wasn’t enough.)
By the end of the night, the diners were full, the chefs were exhausted and praise was bestowed on all who played a contributing part.
Exciting future news of seasonal, not annual, dinners will begin in February. Featured chefs will be Patrick Mulvaney of Mulvaney’s B&L and Oliver Ridgeway, the new executive chef for The Grange.