The continuity inherent in celebrating a meal with the local growers and beverage producers whose products comprise the meal creates an intimacy otherwise missed. A farm dinner at the Chicago Botanic Garden offered such an opportunity.
Enjoying a decidedly late summer menu that emphasized earthy vegetable dishes, five friends, among perhaps 30 others, feasted, chatted and were entertained by our host, Chef Cleetus Friedman of Fountainhead in the Ravenswood-Lincoln Square-North Center neighborhoods. Producers of the accompanying spirits, beer and wines were on hand with intriguing production stories to tell. Companies such as Death’s Door Spirits, Illinois Sparkling Co–August Hill Winery, and Solemn Oath Brewery Co-MC’d to our delight. (OBTW, the Solemn Oath Brewery site is really worth a look.)
Better still, The Green Youth Farm/Windy City Harvest offers students the opportunity to learn the entire process of organic farming beginning with seed planting. Participants manage bee hives, harvest the crops and sell them at farm stands and markets. Derek, the GYF/WCH representative, in full-throttle animation, couldn’t have better represented the program’s success or the kids’ enthusiasm.
Beer and wine selections accompanied each course. So, Lil’ Spitfire beer and Chardonel wine were served with Zucchini and Squash Ribbon with Fresh Basil and Parmesan Cheese (the consentual favorite dish).
And, yes, we sipped Mr. Inappropriate beer and Bride of Freak of Nature wine with Stone Fruit Cobbler with Sour Cream-Cinnamon Ice Cream. Oy.
On a smaller but equally significant scale, the offering of meals created from produce we grow ourselves or from growers whose quality we admire, is every bit the same as a lavish professional production.
We can lavish one another. It’s the true gift of food.