Summer means gardens going wild and farms fertile with produce. The fields’ yields bring chefs and growers together for special events in and out of town. Here are a few coming right up that got my attention and deserve yours:
Doing anything this Saturday night? There are still a few seats left for this summer’s first in a series of Farm-To-Table dinners at Sutra Farm. Yes, Sutra, Wallingford’s superb vegetarian restaurant, has a country place. The 5.5 acre spread is situated about an hour northeast of Seattle. Chef Colin Patterson says the idea started last year and every dinner was a sell-out. This year there will be three: July 6, July 20 and August 24 (all Saturdays from 4:30-8:30 p.m.)
“It’s fun for us because we can take a few days to prep and we can take things to a higher level,” says Patterson.
His July 6th six-course vegetarian menu is indeed creative. Highlights include an antipasto plate with raw buckwheat crackers, pistachio cheese, garlic scapes, pea and huckleberry salad and rhubarb-rose geranium jam; roasted romanesco cauliflower soup with tequila and black lemon gastrique and smoked paprika lentil tortillas; risotto cake with Indian spices and kale; squash blossoms stuffed with cashew cheese and nigella; morel sliders with lovage pesto, cherries, sorrel, heirloom tomatoes and saffron polenta fries.
Antipasti is served picnic style, followed by a 20-minute meditation, says Patterson. The last five courses are served at Japanese picnic tables on the deck where “you can watch the goats and chickens running around.” The cost is $125/person. Pre-registration is required; camping is allowed on the property if you want to bring your gear and spend the night. Check the Sutra website for details.
In a twist on farm to table, Sno-Valley Tilth brings the tables to the farms. Two upcoming dinners pair local chefs and wineries with farms in Carnation, Washington, just about 30 minutes east of Seattle:
- July 13: Chef Mark Bodinet of Copperleaf Restaurant with Oxbow Farm and Januik Winery
- August 17: Chef Matt Dillon (Sitka & Spruce, Bar Sajor and The CorsonBuilding) with Stuart Landing Farms and Desert Wind Winery.
The evenings start with a tour of the farm then guests gather at a long table set up in the field for a four-course feast paired with wine. Tickets are $95/person. www.snovalleytilth.org All proceeds from the dinners benefit SnoValley Tilth, a non-profit that supports sustainable, family farming in the Snoqualmie and SnohomishValleys. Member farms, nestled in the “foodshed” for the greater Seattle area, want to ensure farming remains a viable component of the local economy.
Carnation is also the locale for the Snoqualmie Valley Preservation Alliance’s “Taste of the Valley Dinner and Auction. The July 27 event at Jubilee Biodynamic Farm (229 West Snoqualmie River Rd NE, Carnation 98014) will raise money for the SVPA’s mission “to help support and protect the beautiful Snoqualmie Valley – its wildlife, farming, residence, recreational use and more,” says Wendy Haakenson, owner and manager of Jubilee Farm and the SVPA Committee Chair.
The fun begins at 5 p.m. and includes a live auction and blue grass bands in addition to food and drink. Guests can either fill a plate and sit down or walk around and graze on food provided by several well-known Seattle and Snoqualmie area chefs and restaurants, among them Tom Douglas, John Howie, The Herbfarm, Salish Lodge and Tilth Restaurant. Tickets are $50 per person at http://svpataste.bpt.me/
Back in town on Capitol Hill, chef/owner Ericka Burke collaborates with garden guru Amy Pennington on Volunteer Park Café’s Chef + Gardener Dinner Series. The menus are prompted by what’s ready to pick from the café’s urban plot, tended by Pennington’s company, GoGo Green Garden.
On the table for the cafe’s July 23 feast, expect to find a colorful feast that incorporates scarlet runner beans and black Kabooli garbanzo beans, along with Purple Tops turnips, red iceberg lettuce and squash with their blossoms. Rose geranium will flavor crème brulée and home-made ginger beer also planned.
Additional dinners in the series are set for September 10 and October 22 (both Tuesdays). The cost is $45 per person; wine and beer can be purchased and so can copies of Pennington’s books Apartment Gardening and Urban Pantry.
On Queen Anne, LloydMartin chef/owner Sam Crannell, is taking advantage of his restaurant’s proximity to the neighborhood’s farmers market by offering Farmers Market Dinners every Thursday. Beginning July 11 until the end of the market season in October, he’ll put out an impromptu menu between 5-7 p.m. featuring his market finds. The price will vary from $30-$45 for a three-course meal and reservations are a wise idea.
Finally, on Sunday, August 4, Derek Bugge, new chef de cuisine at Frank’s Oyster House & Champagne Parlor in the U-District, is planning a summer meal on Lopez Island in association with Jones Family Farm.
The Jones Family Olympia and Pacific oysters have been mainstay at Frank’s, and as other seafood sourced by Jones Family Farm has made it on to the menu, the vision of an on-site meal seemed a natural fit, says Sarah Penn, co-owner with her husband Felix Penn, of Frank’s Oyster House as well as the restaurant, Pair.
A tour of the new shellfish hatchery precedes the meal, which, along with oysters and clams, will include Jones Family pork loin. The afternoon event takes place at the farm’s oyster operation on ShoalBay, from 1:45 PM until 6:00 PM. The cost is $120 per person, including wine pairings selected by Sarah Penn. To reserve your place call Frank’s Oyster House at 206-525-0220.