Saturday night was one of the best nights Bud Rogers and I have enjoyed in a long time. We went over to Lake Forest Farm to participate in their spring Farm to Table dinner.
So let me set the stage for you. First, we were given the menu ahead of time, which was planned by Chef David Daniel of Planet Chef and based on local, seasonal ingredients. It was mouth-watering.
Daniel included suggested alcohol pairings for each of the four courses. So we divvied up the pairing assignments with our friends, Cristina and Lance, who were also attending. The anticipation of the meal was building as we studied the menu and chose the wines. Andy Doyle at McKinney Wine Merchant was a big help, immediately taking the menu characteristics and matching them with the appropriate wines. I will long be a fan of the Pinot Blanc he recommended.
Anyway, with wines (and bourbon) in hand, a designated driver on call, and ready appetites, we headed out to Lake Forest Farm, just north of Erwin Park off of Lake Forest Drive.
We were greeted by a gorgeous 18 acres spread and about 30 hens. It was a perfect spring evening and, accompanied by the chickens, we made our way to a stand of trees strung with lights and a beautiful table set for twenty waiting for us.
Let’s skip the suspense here – the main course was pork. So you can stop worrying about the chickens.
Vanessa Zamora, the lovely proprietor of Lake Forest Farm, greeted us all and encouraged us to sit with people we didn’t know. She wanted to encourage us to stay away from our safe social bubbles and to expand our community. We were hesitant but did as we were told and the rewards were great. While we were still able to chat with Lance and Cristina, the new friends we made brought freshness to our conversation. We all walked away feeling like we had new friends and new perspectives.
So. Dinner. We started off with a spicy salmon and scallop ceviche, accompanied by a crisp Spanish Cava. The second course was an arugula salad with beets and candied pecans paired with the aforementioned Pinot Blanc. For the main course, we indulged in a mouth-watering zinfandel slow roasted Spring Berkshire pork shoulder. The chef, on one of his visits to the table to be sure we were all enjoying the meal, explained that the pickled kumquats & red onions in an anaheim chili pan reduction were kind of a riff on Texas barbecue – playing the pickle to the French pork dish. We paired our pork with a California Zinfandel.
For dessert we enjoyed fresh seasonal berries in creme fraiche and sipped Bulleit, a Kentucky Bourbon, while we lingered with our new and old friends. The perfect end to a perfect evening.
Farm to Table Dinners
Farm to Table Dinners aren’t a new phenomenon, but they are pretty recent here in McKinney. This is the second dinner that Vanessa has hosted, and she intends to keep the occasions infrequent and small, to keep it as the special occasion that it is.
Patina Green has been hosting their Market Dinners for a while now. Their dinners are served right on the patio in front of the store on a monthly basis. You need to be quick to grab one of their coveted spots. They open up reservations for three months at a time and usually sell out the dinners within the first hour.
This month, on May 30, Chestnut Square will be hosting their second annual Farm-to-Table dinner to benefit the Chestnut Square Farmer’s Market. (Bud Rogers and I will be there, too.)
Connecting With Our Food
The trend represents the growing awareness in McKinney of exactly where our food comes from. These dinners allow us to celebrate the food our land provides, the farmers who lovingly tend it, and the talented hands that know when to dress it up and when to let it stand on its own. They help us connect with our food and understand that it is a limited resource.
It’s a reminder that meals are more than sustenance, they are a connection to the land and the people we share our lives with. It’s an inspiration to bring a little of this celebration and awareness into our own homes every day. Thank you to Lake Forest Farm for an amazing evening.
I hope to see more of you at the next event!