I've been saying "yes" to almost every good thing that comes my way this summer, so when my friend Ann invited me to a dinner at her CSA farm... well YEAH! This type of event has been on my bucket list for a while.
On my 57th Happy Day, I took one of "grandma's dishes" to Park Ridge Organics to share a fabulous farm-to-table meal prepared by Jill Chisholm of Paddock Club in Elkhart Lake.
Due to unsettled weather, our dinner was served in the barn. It cleared up from time to time, but also poured buckets, so the decision to move indoors was sound! And it was so cozy and cute.
The event began with a social hour, featuring a lovely nectarine sangria or fresh lemonade and appetizers. Oh yum.
I mostly ate my food instead of photographing it, so I'll have to use my words.
My favorite appetizer was a pea pod with a lovely mixture of small-dice cooked beets, fresh basil & fresh mozzarella spooned onto one end (above). It looked as if the pea pod had been used as a scoop. Very neat to eat, and so tasty! I think goat cheese would be fun to try sometime -- I love goat cheese with beets.
Another fave was heirloom grape tomatoes -- every single one cut on the bottom so it would sit flat on the plate, seeds and pulped scooped out -- filled with a mixture of small-dice green beans, preserved lemon, parmesan cheese, parsley and dill, and drizzled with olive oil. It was such a pretty plate with all the colorful varieties!
The hot appetizer was a mushroom cap stuffed with tasso smoked pork shoulder, okra, cabbage, and celery, with creole seasoning. Delicious!
I've driven by Park Ridge Organics many times on my way home from points south; it's located on my favorite side of the lake -- the side less traveled. I live at the north end of Lake Winnebago and if traveling from points south, until I'm through Fond du Lac at the bottom of the lake, I have options -- continue racing up US Hwy 41 on the west side of the lake, or take a right for a more leisurely drive up the east side. It's 2-lane state highways that mosey through small towns, picturesque farmland, the Bible Belt of Wisconsin, and offers some of the most beautiful views of the lake.
The 3-course meal was simply spectacular. For several days afterward, it was the standard by which I seriously judged every morsel that dared come near my lips, lest my tastebuds and the memory of that wonderful meal be sullied. Hello, FOOD.SNOB.
We began with a salad - green beans, romaine lettuce, pickled walla walla onion, cherry tomato, Sartori BelliVitano Gold cheese, dressed with a macadamia nut-dill vinaigrette.
The beverage pairing was a choice of 3 Sheeps Cirque du Wit wheat ale or Guild White Wine (there was a local connection, but I don't remember what it was). I chose the ale.
The entree was fresh grilled pork loin and lemon-braised pork shoulder from Golden Bear Farm, served with snow peas and pickled kohlrabi, caramelized green and purple kale with carrot, celery and walla walla onion, and deer creek cheddar grits.
Um. We pretty much licked (in a manner of speaking) all of the service plates clean!
The beverage choice was 3 Sheeps Really Cool Waterslides I.P.A. or Guild Red Wine; again, I chose the beer.
The final course was dessert. Oh my.
Brachetto cherries and Berry Dairy black & red raspberries served with oatmeal crumble, and topped with celery and lemon balm ice cream.
Um. Yes, you read that right: CELERY ICE CREAM! It was so fabulously different and delicious. I loved it.
And then it was time to drive home.
They have a 5-course farm dinner coming up next month... I've been invited and am so tempted, but not sure it'll work out.
But someday I shall return!
And someday, somewhere, I shall also be Outstanding In the Field.