An Evening in The Country


July 30th 2016

Once again, July 30th marked our annual dinner where Heirloom Fire and Magdalena Events celebrate all that is grown, crafted and born right here in the lovely Berkshire Hills.

Weddings are always fun, but when we have the opportunity to cook or design something just in style that we want, it brings out the little kid in us. We get to tap into a feeling of that time of year or a time in your life. Magdalena penned a really beautiful look into her childhood and how she was able to wrap that into the experience she created for An Evening in The Country. Check this out.

Photo: Elaina Mortali

For me, I wanted to put together food that would take a closer look at the work that Jan Johnson does at Mill River Farm and the practices of folks like Joel Salatin and Klaus Martens - pioneers in the sustainable agriculture movement.

Photo: Elaina Mortali

A passion project of Jan’s was to have the ability to slaughter her chickens on her farm so she knew it was being done properly. She went through the lengthy process of planning, permitting and state inspection. To honor the work I wanted tell that story and shed some light to the passion behind it.

Photo: Elaina Mortali

The first course consisted of a slow cooked Mill River Farm Egg served in a nest with Jan’s Micro greens, Salt that featured herbs from the farm and wild edibles I gathered, Arugula Aioli -From the farm and Triticale bread that we baked on site. Lastly, a few months back, Jan had some unruly roosters that had to be culled. From the farm to the salt box and just like that - Rooster Prosciutto was born just for this course.

Photo: Nick Bumstead Find.Eat.Drink

The next course focused on farming the soil. If you want to know how good a farmer is, taste their soil. No, I don’t mean eat the dirt, or if you want you can. I mean taste whats growing right in it. I couldn’t think of a better example than beets and scarlet turnips - the essence of earth. Jan and her crew move the chicken carts every day to promote fertile soil.You can literally see the verdant patches all over the farm from seasons past. This course began the introduction to a lovely group of potters from Southern Vermont and Williamstown, MA who crafted plates, pitchers, platters, bowls and coffee mugs specifically for this dinner. This was exciting for me because I saw it as the next step to a farm to table/local dinner. Everyone should be doing this and I hope they will.

Photo: Elaina Mortali

A simple salad of Mill River Field Greens, Ash Roasted Scarlet Turnips and Beets dressed in a spruce vinaigrette from Spruce tips i had foraged from the farm in spring and Beet Amaranth.

Photo: Elaina Mortali

Next course was served with communal service highlighting the beautiful serving platters of Sandra Thomas, Jackie Sedlock, Suzy Konecky, Stephanie Boyd and Amrita Lash.

In this case, the egg came before the chicken.

Photo: Elaina Mortali

Main Course: Hearth Roasted Chickens, Farm Carrots with Field Mustard and Cover Crop Risotto featuring Triticale Berries, Cherry Tomatoes and Heirloom Squash From the farm. Triticale is a hybrid of wheat and rye. Rye is considered to be poor mans wheat, it thrives in soil that is low in nutrition. Now, why is this so important? As the rye grows in the soil, it helps hold valuable rain water in its dense roots longer to feed the soil. Also, after haying, the remaining stems get plowed under and provide a delicious boost of carbon to feed the soil as well. So not only does the farmer get a boost of fertility to his soil, but he can sell the berries or flour and make money - more bang for their buck. So, chefs. lets use more of this helpful crop for the famers.

Photo: Elaina Mortali

With the last course we looked at where Jan started from and perhaps a look into where the future may bring her.

Jan started with Berkshire Wildflower Honey, her first business, and has been expanding and growing ever sense. To pay homage to that, we ended with a Ricotta and Honey Panna Cotta with Honey Caramel, Dried Milk Meringue and Honey Brittle. As fast as Jan is growing, i figure it is only a matter of time that she will have her own small dairy herd. Plus, Milk and Honey? Hello.

Photo: Elaina Mortali

To be paired with this course, Magdalena of Magdalena Events infused a rectified spirit from Poland (her home country) with strawberries from the spring and summer blueberries. The result was this incredible - jammy but also fragrant, lush with the aroma of summer itself. totally and completely yummy.

Photo: Elaina Mortali

Mother nature forced us to enact our alternate rain plan and to serve dinner inside one of Jan’s greenhouses which, in the end, may have ended up better than our original plan. In this day and age of technology, we lose a little of the human element. The ceremony of being in a room with many people, the warmth and energy of many laughing guests. Magdalena did a beautiful job lighting up the hoop house with lanterns and gorgeous tablescapes of moss, candles, wood planks and glass apothecary jars. In addition to designing the over all vibe of the event, Magdalena also displayed the menu a large pane of glass that glowed in the moonlight as guests ate together.

Photo: Elaina Mortali

#firecooking #heirloomfire #farmwedding #farmtotable #dinner

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