1818 Farms’ “Dinner at the Farm” is a Treat for all the Senses

1818 Farms' “Dinner at the Farm” is a Treat for all the Senses

We would like to welcome Elise Taylor to the 1818 Farms blog today. Elise and her husband, Brent, have each been to corporate-sponsored events at 1818 Farms; Elise has also chosen to give 1818 Farms Select gifts for special occasions. At Brent’s suggestion, they decided to enjoy a night at the Farm and join us for our September Farm-to-Table Dinner. Thank you, Elise, for sharing your experience with us at 1818 Farms!

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We arrived at 5:30 on an unusually cool early September evening, ready to walk back in time, to an era when we were all more connected to the animals, the produce, the land and the farm life that an earlier generation would have experienced.

Natasha and Laurence McCrary’s farm is just a few turns away from a major highway in this part of Alabama. The farm has a peaceful quiet feeling, peppered with the sounds of animals and the sounds that the sweep of the wind makes in trees and the garden. We were welcomed through the gate by Laurence, waving us into the farm.

A brood of hens were the first farm residents to greet us inside the gates. Everyone who attended walked through their yard, past their beautiful coop to get to our destination, our outdoor dining room. To our right, sheep, rams, pigs and their goat, “Farrah Fawcett”, live in a series of expansive fenced yards that line the front land. The hens fuss excitedly around their yard and are fed on fresh tomatoes and grains.

The evening started with an opportunity to tour the grounds and see all the unique features of this organic farm to table organization. Tony led us on a tour of the gardens, filled with dahlias, cock’s comb (celosia), cinnamon basil, lime basil and gomphrena, all grown from seed. The beans and tomatoes are interspersed in the garden– all a part of the farm’s purpose-to grow plants that are used for cooking, floral arrangement, and drying for projects in the more dormant months. One of the most exotic plants we saw on the tour was vine-dried okra that resembled a rack of some exotic herd animal more than a plant. These sculptural plants were being saved for winter projects.

The guests who attended were all connected by their appreciation of the “farm to table” movement, and anxious to experience the flavors of our local foods, brought to life through Chef Jakob Reed and his crew. As dinner began, each course was introduced by Natasha and Jake with sourcing, details about seasonality of the featured ingredients in the course, and details about the farms that were integral to our dinner. Beautiful garden flowers graced our tables, extending the herb fragrances to the dinner table.

Our Evening’s Menu:
PRELUDE
Braised Rabbit Wonton – Source DSR Farms in Danville
Pork Belly Sliders – Fatback Pig Project

COURSE I
Shrimp Remoulade Salad – featuring Gulf Shrimp, 1818 Farms’ fresh eggs. The key to hard boiling fresh eggs is to carefully toss and return to chilled water to efficiently separate the egg from its shell for a great deviled egg. The results were so flavorful and fresh, an interesting contrast to the tang of the remoulade and sweet meat of the shrimp.

COURSE II
Roasted Tomato, Chicken Liver, Sausage, with Dirty Rice – 1818 Farms, Champion Farms, Delta Blues rice, Springer Mountain Farms
Chef Jake shared that tomatoes were from both 1818 Farms and Champion Farms. The chicken liver, often an earthy flavor, was beautifully balanced with spices and the starch of the dirty rice.

COURSE III
Cornmeal Dusted Trout with Crawfish Gravy – North Georgia Trout, Arkansas grown crawfish
Chef Jake shared that he used his grandmother’s recipe for collard greens, and a special crawfish gravy, resembling an etouffee recipe for the gravy topping the fresh trout from North Georgia. The balance of the flavors made the dish flavorful yet not heavy, and lightly crisp cornmeal on the trout completed the texture contrast of the dish.

FINALE
Hoecakes with Honey-glazed Apples and Chantilly Cream – Scott’s Orchard, Champion Farms
Our dessert was really a converted breakfast dish, and both Jake and Natasha agreed it was their favorite course of the meal. Jake shared that growing up he always tried to stretch what his family had on hand to eat, a perfect training ground for his eventual passion for eating local. Jake shared that this year, local honey was what we were fortunate enough to enjoy in abundance. The Hoecake recipe was really a cornmeal pancake, light and fluffy, but with the body and texture of the cornmeal. These Hoecakes were topped with Scott’s Orchard apples in local honey and a daub of a Chantilly cream on the side. This dish was fresh, lightly sweetened and the perfect finale to a delicious meal.

We dined under a pavilion with café lights, surrounded by the garden, the Wheeler Wildlife Preserve on one side and the other small buildings dotting the farm land. Local jazz group, A Mellow Tone, serenaded the 80 guests throughout the evening. The group enjoyed this wonderful Farm-to-Table experience. We made new friends who shared an eagerness to participate in this unique movement with us. As the group started home the temperatures had dipped into the 50s; the warmth and magic of fall had arrived for us all.

 

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