I can’t tell you how long I’ve been wanting to attend a farm dinner.
Hint: It’s been a long time.
What is a farm dinner, you may ask? It’s an event held at one of our local farms where a prominent chef whips up a creative menus based on that week’s harvest. Due to the unpredictability of crops (and what other proteins may be sourced), menus for farm dinners are rarely published in advance—which is why I delayed attending a farm dinner for so long. I’m a fairly picky eater when it comes to protein (I stick to poultry, beef or pork) and I only liked fish served raw, not cooked (weird, I know).
But then I was all, dude…life is about risk—go to a freakin’ farm dinner! So then I was all, yah buddy!
Of course the next question was, who would go with me? It was a serious dilemma, due to the fact that the man is good with trying all kinds of protein, but steers clear of vegetables. And my family, they’re like me—scared of the protein, but love all vegetables.
In the end I coaxed my mother, sister and aunt to the dinner with me…assuring them that it couldn’t possibly be the season for lamb quite yet (turns out that’s the focus of September’s dinner).
Enter Chef Grant Buchanan of GB Culinary Concepts and Lone Hawk Farms. Not only was Chef Buchanan more than helpful when I contacted him regarding the dinner, but he assured me that he likes to distribute a menu a day or two before the event (and he did).
This theme’s dinner? Chicken! Everyone (except my mother) was excited..and thankfully the chicken was served ‘family style’ so she was able to indulge in the veggies instead.
If I wasn’t married already, I would’ve had my wedding at Lone Hawk Farms. The winding road into the farm was breathtakingly beautiful, making us feel both serene and refreshed/energized at the same time despite that inherent contradiction.
As we approached the dining area, we saw a long table set for dinner alongside a few cocktail tables. Cocktail hour ran about 45 minutes, where we indulged in passed hors-d’oeuvres like melon gazpacho and thinly-sliced cucumber and feta atop some flatbread. This of course, paired with the wine we brought (the farm doesn’t have a liquor license) and the musical stylings of Kevin Watson.
When it was time for dinner, we all chose our own seats and admired the place settings.
Watermelon, Palisade Peach and Tomato Salad with Shaved Cucumber, Feta, and Basil Vinaigrette.
If chefs use their first course to make their first impression, then wow–I’m sold. If I could taste colors, I’d swear that the vibrant colors of this salad danced upon my palate. The ingredients worked harmoniously to make the watermelon and peach taste refreshingly sweet against the salty feta cheese and savory basil vinaigrette.
I also really enjoyed each time Chef Buchanan came out to address the group at the start of each course, discussing the components in each dish very thoughtfully.
Fried Chicken Quarters with Peach-Tabasco Honey
Bacon-wrapped Chicken Sausage
Potato and Beet Rosemary Gratin
Grilled Summer Vegetables and Kohlrabi Slaw
Fried chicken isn’t something I typically eat—mostly due to the fried component. Executing fried chicken on a scale as large as this is challenging; your chicken can easily dry out from being overcooked, and the skin can quickly get soggy.
But not this chicken.
Paired with flavorful homemade chicken sausage, the fried chicken was cooked perfectly. Featuring a variety of pieces (including the drumstick, thigh, wing, breast and more), this fried chicken had a crunchy exterior that was just all too yummy with the sweet and spicy Peach-Tabasco Honey. Both dishes were served family-style, and second-helping refills ensured everyone at the table had more than enough to eat.
The chicken may have been the star, but it stood next to some pretty outstanding partners. The Potato and Beet Rosemary Gratin was flavorful, but I missed some of that crispy exterior of the gratin that gets lost in family-style dining. The Kohlrabi Slaw is what took the Grilled Summer Vegetables from good to great. And the cornbread? Well, I loved the chef’s take on cornbread ‘balls’ that made it all to easy to pop a couple (or a lot) into your mouth.
We had a small break between the second and third course which was well-planned, because I definitely wanted to make room dessert.
Lemon Cornmeal Shortcake, Roasted Plums, Plum Syrup, Tarragon Anglaise.
I’m not a huge fan of overly sweet desserts, and I love the savory quality that herbs (like tarragon) bring to the table. The Tarragon Anglaise rounded out the sweetness of the plums, and the acid from the lemon was subtle but noticed. The innovative star in this dish was the cornmeal shortcake, which added a nice level of texture to an otherwise light cake.
All in all, I truly enjoyed this meal and experience and I would heartily do it again. It did help, of course, that it was the night before heading on a weeklong beach vacation; the dinner helped me unwind from a busy couple of weeks and relaxed my mind. I find myself running around a lot (both mentally and physically) and I enjoy indulging in these experiences which really ground you and bring you back to the present moment.
Thank you Chef Buchanan, your team at GB Culinary concepts and Lone Hawk Farms! It was a memorable evening and I can’t wait to do it again soon!