Culinary Arts: Farm to Table Dinner

Posted: August 18th, 2010 | Filed under: Art excursions near and far | 3 Comments »

Farm to Table Dinner at Riverplains Farm, Strawberry Plains, TennesseeThis past weekend I attended one of my sister-in-law Laura’s fabulous events, which are always so artful in their execution I felt like I should give at least one of them a mention here on the art blog. This particular event was a farm-to-table dinner, meaning that all of the ingredients in the meal came from the farm where the dinner was held. You can read more about the details and philosophy behind these types of dinners here, and visit Mockingbird Events’ home page to learn more about Laura’s Knoxville-based business.

It may have been close to 100 degrees shortly before the dinner, but guests were welcomed with cocktails of watermelon juice and lavender-infused vodka on ice as we drank in the stunning scenery of Riverplains Farm in Strawberry Plains, Tennessee. We snacked on homemade pickles and spelt crackers, and as the sun began to set we gathered around a long table decorated with gorgeous flowers and vintage plates.

Part of what I love about Laura’s events is that she enlists all her creative friends to help pull her vision of the party together. Our friend Susan Ward, an interior designer, helped set the tone for the evening with a plum, green, and white color scheme. It was echoed in the purple table cloths and vintage green glass centerpiece vases, which were decked out with varying shades of violet flowers and lush green foliage. Laura and Susan took the farm theme all the way to the lighting, with tomato cage lanterns wrapped in muslin fabric and stitched together with twine. Jesse and Lauren Wagner of Nathanna designed the lovely menus (with oh-so-cute handwritten headings!) that described the delicious food we ate; and the Nicely family, owners of the farm, prepared the meal. And I got to help with the setup on the day of—I love to see all the elements come together!

On the menu was a chilled tomato dill soup, hamburgers made of grass-fed beef with tomato chutney served on a homemade spelt bun, and watermelon salad and succotash. Dessert was lemon custard topped with fresh berries. Did I mention that all of this came from the very farm where we dined? I would love to show you some pictures of this amazing food, but alas, I was enjoying it too much to stop for photographs. Needless to say, it was all bright, colorful, and perfectly prepared, and it tasted real—nothing was injected with any pharmaceuticals, sprayed with any chemicals, or otherwise altered before reaching the kitchen where it was prepared. Makes you think about what you normally put on your plate.

Besides the delectable dinner, we shared great wine and conversation with wonderful friends in a much more inviting and relaxed setting than any restaurant. And it made me think about all the elements of the evening that we might not normally think of as art, but that are perhaps some of the most basic art forms: farming, gardening, cooking, setting the table, choosing the decor, etc. All of these can be approached, as they were at this event, with a very careful consideration of the aesthetic quality of the end result, and an appreciation of the process that leads to that result. What a great (and fun, and delicious) example of infusing the everyday with ART!


3 Comments on “Culinary Arts: Farm to Table Dinner”

  1. 1 Laura Sohn said at 12:04 pm on August 18th, 2010:

    What a great post, and not just because it was a Mockingbird event, but because the art of our daily lives is oh so important to nurturing ourselves. That is what it is all about.

  2. 2 Anna Niceley Barreiro said at 1:14 pm on August 19th, 2010:

    Thank you so much for writing and posting this! My entire family so enjoyed sharing our farm and our products with everyone, and we were blown away by how beautifully everything came together. I personally had a wonderful time cooking for so many people and sharing my passion! Thanks for sharing your experience as a guest! You summed it up beautifully.

  3. 3 Denise Speasr said at 7:59 am on August 20th, 2010:

    What a wonderful idea! Everything looks great, and I’m sure tasted even better.


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