On what turned out to be a sunny, warm Fall evening we headed to Holbrook Farm for the last farm to table dinner of the season. Once again Chef Michael Bick of Some Things Fishy Catering created the perfect meal to celebrate what's seasonal and fresh at this time of year.
Upon arriving guests were treated to bite-sized hors d'ouveres: Grilled vegetable quesadillas made with farm stand vegetables, Arethusa goat cheese and herb pesto on fresh tortillas; Smoked salmon crepes using Mountain Products smoked salmon, crème fraiche and fresh dill; and Spiced pumpkin soup sips topped with a touch of ancho chili crema. All were delicious, but I absolutely loved the soup sips. Ancho chili pairs so nicely with sweet pumpkin. I easily could have made the soup my dinner. And, of course, there were two seasonal non-alcoholic beverage choices: pomegranate ginger agua fresca and apple cinnamon agua fresca.
Once all the guests arrived we took our seats at a series of long tables underneath a tent decorated with string lights, candles, gourds and stained glass artwork by a local artist.
The plated first course was a seared Stonington scallop on a celeriac potato puree topped with caramelized leeks and raisin compote with a dill drizzle. The scallop was perfectly cooked and even though I am not a raisin fan their sweetness was a delightful surprise and key to the overall flavor of the dish.
Next up was the salad course, served family style. It was a crispy kale salad with kale, shaved beets, carrots, radishes, cucumber and arugula topped with what Chef Bick said was his experiment of the evening, a lime fish sauce dressing. Fish sauce? There were a few gasps in the crowd when he revealed the secret ingredient. But before you dismiss it, I must say it lended a subtle flavor to the salad that I think worked well. More than just a saltiness, it was what they call "umami" - that pleasant savory taste you can't quite put your finger on. Definitely an interesting choice.
The family-style main course and side dishes were the epitome of Fall. There was an autumn panzanella salad with roasted butternut squash, celery, Shiitake mushrooms, sweet potato, apples, pomegranate seeds, arugula and Panificio Navona multigrain bread cubes dressed with a spiced pomegranate vinaigrette. The sweet roasted veggies with the earthiness of the multi grain bread with the subtle spicy heat from the vinaigrette were a perfect match. I never would have thought to do a fall version of a bread salad. Now, I'm definitely going to create my own version at home.
The other side dish was a roasted delight of fennel glazed root vegetables. This was total comfort food. You can't go wrong.
The absolute star, however, was the grilled and braised short ribs with tomato, fennel, caper, red pepper flakes and a lemon parsley gremolata. The meat was so tender it just came apart and was full of slow cooked richness. Incredible! Hands down this was my favorite dish of the evening.
To close out the evening were, of course, a selection of bite-sized sweets: Panificio Navona petite harvest cakes in apple and pumpkin and Blue Jay Orchard’s apple cider bites. Rocky Patel, owner of Spirits 'N' Such, also generously provided a creamy pumpkin spice liquor. It was a bit of a comedy of errors at our end of the table. Despite the spill, I was able to recover at least a sip or two. *Personal note: Next time do not choose the seat at the seam of two tables, accidents are guaranteed to happen.
Once again we met some great food-minded folks and reconnected with a few farm-to-table friends. I hope the success of this year's farm dinners means that many more are in store for next year.
By the way, Holbrook Farm Market will be open all winter on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.