Monday, July 16, 2012

Farm to Table Dinner

Perhaps one of the best things about living where we do is the access we have to fresh veggies all summer. When we decided to join the Ollin Farms CSA last year, we had no real idea how much they would begin to feel like an extension of our family. Every week we get to share in a part of their hard work and dedication to the land. They have opened their doors to students from our daughter's school and give back in the community in so many quiet ways. We feel so lucky to have them as "neighbors."

They have a summer dinner series that we've been eyeing since last year. Chef Dale Lamb comes to the farm and cooks Ollin-grown produce with locally raised meat. There are four courses of delicious food. We didn't get to go last year because all the dinners sold out quickly. This year I watched carefully for their announcements and we signed up for one at the first chance.

Luckily, we had family in town and so we left the kids with them and headed to the farm. I'd never been beyond the farm stand and the walk down the path to the "event center" was such a treat. There are huge cottonwoods lining the path and it felt so welcoming at every corner!

Just before the dining pagoda we were stopped at a simple greeting table and then we were led to the tent. 

 There were family style tables set up with mismatched dishware, fabric napkins and goblets for the drink of your choice. 
I stuck with root beer and Mark brought a Crooked Stave Petit Sour. It was fun to see what sort of things all the other diners brought too! The drinks helped loosen everyone up and the chatter throughout the tent was calming. 

Chef Lamb provided tea and punches that I couldn't resist trying. This beautiful pink one was a prickly pear punch. It was tart and sweet, but so perfectly refreshing too!

The appetizers were pickled beets, roasted squash, bread with french butter and sea salt, and a grilled Palisade apricot with a perfectly paired bite of cheese. That bite of apricot was my favorite because it practically melted in your mouth. 

For the salad course, Chef Lamb did a pretty traditional quinoa salad with Ollin-grown cukes. It was light and simple, but well dressed and refreshing. 

At this point in the dinner, I had all but forgot my root beer and went back to the drink table for the rhubarb punch. Out of the two drinks that I tried it was my favorite. It tasted a little bit like a lemonade, but didn't have the tartness or sweetness that you would expect. It was a treat that I might just have to  experiment with to make on my own!

The second salad was a red cabbage, walnut, and apple salad. It was really tasty!

For the main course Chef Lamb prepared three entree choices and because the dinner is a sort of buffet style we were lucky enough to try all three. First was sustainable and locally raised trout that had been grilled to perfection. I'm not a huge fish fan, but I'm beginning to realize I've just been having it prepared wrong for years. This was flaky and light and melted in your mouth. It was incredible!

Ollin Farms is pretty well known for having the best squash and so we were treated to a roasted squash with a mix of chard, kale, and spinach inside. 

Lastly, locally raised bison that just fell apart at the fork's touch. It was served with a potato and tarragon salad. 

 My favorite course of nearly every meal is the dessert and this one did not disappoint. Palisade peach and bing cherry cobbler topped with lavender ice cream. It was the perfect balance of crunchy granola topping and sweet fruit. I loved getting a huge cherry with nearly every bite. The ice cream was delicate enough that the lavender added to the dish subtley and without that soapy taste that can happen with too much lavender. 

The whole evening was such a treat and we felt like special guests of Mark & Kena, who work tirelessly to nurture Ollin Farms. I loved having the creek just behind us. I left feeling like we were an important part of the whole process of farm to table.  

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