Farm-To-Fork Dinner for Locavores

by Seasonal Wisdom on July 27, 2011

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It’s a scenic drive to Peaceful Belly Farm in the picturesque foothills of Boise, Idaho. That’s especially true when the evening sun is starting to set and you’re heading to a delicious farm-to-fork dinner with fresh vegetables, fruits and meats direct from local growers.

Photo copyright Teresa O’Connor

A Farm-to-Fork dinner among the sunflowers. Photo copyright Teresa O'Connor

It was a gorgeous summer evening when we arrived at the Peaceful Belly Farm. My dinner guest was Chef Brenda Thompson of Brenda’s Foods. She’s a big fan of local foods too, and even sells her own popular salad dressings in local stores.

Our dinner was to be enjoyed in the middle of a sunflower field, surrounded by dozens of different organic fruits and vegetables grown on the 70-acre family farm.

The trail to dinner. Photo copyright Teresa O'Connor.

But first we had to get to the dinner by walking along this broad, straw-covered trail that led through the Peaceful Belly Farm fields.

Getting closer to dinner. Photo copyright Teresa O'Connor.

Lining the trail to the farm-to-fork dinner were thriving artichoke plants and hanging glass vases with flowers. The journey built our anticipation for the special dinner that awaited us.

A refreshing drink awaits guests. Photo copyright Teresa O'Connor.

At the end of the path was a charming outdoor dining area, surrounded by cheerful sunflowers. We were greeted with a delicious drink featuring a lavender-berry syrup topped with Pellagrino mineral water.

Lavender and berry drink. Photo copyright Brenda Thompson.

The five course dinner featured fresh produce from Peaceful Belly Farm; meats from different local ranchers; and wine from the award-winning Koenig Winery and Distillery.

Greg Koenig discusses wine. Photo copyright Teresa O'Connor

Each of the five dinner courses was described to guests by Chef Abby Carlson (below), who masterminded the menu with Peaceful Belly owner Josie Erskine. She was joined by Greg Koenig (above), who explained our wines with each course.

Chef Abby Carlson describes dinner. Photo copyright Teresa O'Connor

Guests received a mason jar filled with farm flowers and marked with the menu for the night.

Pretty place setting. Photo copyright Teresa O'Connor.

Here’s where I sat that night. The dinner menu was listed on the mason jar (upper left) and tiny white candles added light as the evening approached.

First Course. Copyright Brenda Thompson.

We began dinner with cast iron-charred beets with Middle Eastern Spiced Blue Sage Farm sheep’s yogurt. This was served with a Koenig Viognier 2009.

Second course. Photo copyright Brenda Thompson.

Then we moved to a Meadowlark Farm lamb kefta with fava bean puree; potato wafers; and sweet and spicy ground cherries. This was served with a Koenig Sangiovese 2009, and was one of my favorite dishes of the evening.

Third course. Photo copyright Brenda Thompson.

A chilled pea soup with a mint pistou was served next with a Koenig Sunny Slope Cuvee Riesling 2008.  The barely cooked peas were a treat at this time of year. Our summer weather started later in the season than normal, allowing us to enjoy these cool-season vegetables in late-July.

Sorbet to cleanse the palate. Photo copyright Brenda Thompson.

Before we moved to the main course, we had a carrot and white currant sorbet that was comforting and uniquely flavored.

Main course. Photo copyright Brenda Thompson.

The main course was a clever blend of Homestead Farm‘s milk braised pork shoulder with currant parsley leaf and grilled fennel salad. It was served with a Koenig Syrah 2008.

Dessert! Photo copyright Brenda Thompson.

The meal ended with a marvelous white chocolate poppy seed mousse with blackberry curd, ginger syrup and black sesame langues de chat (or cat’s tongue cookies). This was served with a Koenig Ice Wine Riesling.

Flowers were everywhere. Photo copyright Brenda Thompson.

When you consider that most food in the United States travels nearly 1,500 miles to reach your grocery store, you’ll see why this farm-to-fork dinner was such a special treat. The ingredients were literally picked fresh and prepared for our enjoyment. It doesn’t get more local than that…

A special dinner spot. Photo copyright Teresa O'Connor.

Peaceful Belly Farm did a wonderful job of reconnecting us with our food sources, while satisfying our senses in a creative way.  The wait service was provided by volunteers in the community, and rivaled a fine restaurant.  The setting couldn’t be beat. Mother Nature even cooperated with pleasant temperatures and gentle breezes. And you can see for yourself how well we dined that night.

It was an unforgettable meal, and our only concern was how to return for more dinners at Peaceful Belly Farm soon.

Sunflowers at dinner. Photo copyright Brenda Thompson.

Here are three ways to find farm-to-fork dinners in your area:

  • Visit LocalHarvest.org to find local farmers near you.
  • Ask at farmers markets to be added to mailing lists for special events.
  • Buy a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) membership at a local farm. Your membership will not only support family farmers, but also will alert you to their events. This is how some people learned about our dinner.

More information about local foods and family farmers. Vote for your favorite farmers market.

Local food resources:

Peaceful Belly Farm

Koenig Winery and Distillery

Blue Sage Farm

Meadowlark Farm

Homestead Farm

Brenda’s Foods

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Victoria July 27, 2011 at 4:10 pm

How great! Looks wonderful.

Reply

Teresa O'Connor July 27, 2011 at 4:14 pm

Thanks Victoria. It was a very special evening. I highly recommend it.

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Brenda Thompson July 28, 2011 at 7:52 am

This was one of the best dinners I have had in Idaho. Chef Abby is very gifted. My gratitude to her for providing us with a naturally-healthy meal that tasted divine. Thank you Teresa for asking me to join you! Being in your presence is always heartfelt.

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Teresa O'Connor July 28, 2011 at 9:32 am

Brenda, it was a great evening and a pleasant way to support our local farmers. Thanks for joining me! Teresa

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Joe lamp'l July 31, 2011 at 9:57 pm

Wow. What an incredible event. This is something we plan on covering soon. Thanks for whetting our appetite and for posting on the GGWTV FB page!

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Teresa O'Connor August 1, 2011 at 9:54 am

Joe: Thanks for your comments. This was a wonderful dinner, and a fun way to support our local ranchers and farmers. If you ever need a location for your Growing a Greener World TV story, you’ll find lots of terrific local food sources in Idaho. Meanwhile, Christa shared my post on your Facebook page. So … thank YOU. ;) Best regards, Teresa

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Melissa Frazier August 11, 2011 at 8:38 am

Thanks for writing this lovely article and sharing your great photos and experience!

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Teresa O'Connor August 11, 2011 at 10:39 am

Melissa: That’s awfully sweet. Thanks for your nice message. Peaceful Belly Farm is a wonderful local food resource. But there are local farms all over the nation where these dinners are happening. Hope you attend one soon yourself. You will love it. All the best, Teresa

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RoseMarie Frost August 16, 2011 at 2:06 pm

Looks absolutely stunning. I know most of the food resources mentioned from the Capital City Downtown Boise Market, which I so enjoy and attend regularly. When it the next dinner event planned? Would love to attend.

RoseMarie

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Teresa O'Connor August 16, 2011 at 3:48 pm

RoseMarie: Thanks for stopping by. It was a terrific dinner. I definitely recommend you attend one. Here are the dates … http://www.peacefulbelly.com/events/farm-to-fork/ Enjoy! Teresa

Reply

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