Green Eyes On: Feast Local...Really Local


Photo courtesy of Elle Wedding Photography

A week ago I had the delightful task of throwing a dinner as part of a sweepstakes put on by heating and cooling company, Lennox Industries. It was called the Get a Green Life Sweepstakes, and a winner was chosen at random out of thousands of entries to win a green party for the winner and seven friends, thrown by me.

Once the winner and location were chosen (though a resident of Canada, Grace, the winner, decided to hold the dinner party in Gainesville, FL where her daughter now lives) I set about determining the location and menu.

I certainly could have scoped out some hip, chic restaurant or other venue and held the party there, but there's something cooler going on in the food scene that I wanted to glom onto.
It's the idea of feasting where the food is. In some cities, this is coming to life through underground dinner parties where the intimacy of a dinner party meets the ease of a restaurant. Homeslice West, a New York based supper club, calls theirs a culinary speakeasy. While Studiofeast and The Ghetto Gourmet, both also in NYC, are being called "wandering supperclubs "or "culinary collectives" where guests are encouraged to "connect, gather and share."

But these alternative feasting spots aren't just popping up in penthouse apartments and studio lofts in urban environments, they're also appearing in country kitchens, back porches and alongside grazing cattle in rural farm country.


Photo courtesy of Elle Wedding Photography

It didn't take much digging to find a farm in Gainesville, Florida where the owner and resident "organic chef" has started flirting with this theme of farm-side grubbing. His name is Al Rosa and his farm is Rosas Family Farm. Al and his wife, Erin, have now hosted their fair share of feasts in their farmhouse kitchen and back porch while chickens wander aimlessly by and cows graze quietly in the pasture to the west.

The feast (see menu below) we served Grace and her family came almost entirely from the Rosas property and other neighboring farms. The beef was grass fed, the eggs freshly gathered, and the dessert was heavenly, as really only homemade desserts can be.


Photo courtesy of Elle Wedding Photography

We started the meal with an Amuse Bouche served on the patio. As we were finishing the second course Al announced that a new calf had just been spotted in the pasture so we all took a brief respite from the feast to venture out to the pasture and greet the newest arrival.

After many glasses of biodynamic wine and enough food to feed a small army, the guests all left with gift bags in tow. Reusable market baskets were filled with Sigg bottles, EcoLogic bowls, Green Glass stemware, and, of course, a copy of my book.

As far as I could tell the guests had a tremendously good time. And as for me, I only wish it weren't a one-time thing. I'd like to experience a kitchen bursting with people and a feast to rival any five-star restaurant on at least a weekly basis.

MENU
Al Rosas; Rosas Farms
Amuse Bouche
Wide Awake Steak - an organic coffee and cocoa crusted Rosas Farms grass-fed beef with black bean puree and roasted red pepper sauce.
Soft scrambled Rosas Farms Eggs with Black Truffle and caviar on toast point.

First
Free Range Squab Confit over fennel salad with curry creme fraiche.

Second
Seasonal local lettuces with toasted almonds and brown butter Florida citrus vinaigrette.

Main
Marinated grass-fed Ribeye steak with a farmer's market medley of seasonal organic vegetables.

Dessert
"Blueberry Cheesecake" Lemon Verbena house made ice cream with local organic blueberry topping and graham crackers.

Tags: Florida

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