An Affair to Remember – My First Farm to Table Dinner

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A farm to table dinner is a food event! In this case one with a cause. Slow Food International is having a food summit this year in Italy and our Greater Olympia Chapter is sending a delegate. So this dinner and a second one coming in September are to help raise funds to send Treacy Kreger of Vern’s Food and Farm as our man. Treacy’s passion is palpable and his contribution to this city’s food system has been far more than just noteworthy. In my humble opinion he has earned the honor of delegate and will represent us well. He is also one excellent Chef! In the slideshow he is the one in the wild pants prepping salads.

This farm to table dinner was Treacy’s undertaking along with the help of some fabulous others who made the night truly special.  To begin with the party was held at the Colvin Ranch. The Colvin’s raise all grass fed beef and have a healthy and refreshing attitude toward the breeding of cattle. They went all out to give this dinner the country appeal!  They even set us up for a Hay Ride! We all parked up by their home and were taken by trailer into the fields. But it was not just a ride, we had two stops along the way!

Our first stop was at a tented station out on the prarie near where Mr. Colvins’ family home had once stood. This has been their ranch since the 1850’s. We were treated to appetizers and wine while Mr. Colvin gave a talk on the land and why they raise the beef the way they do. Scatter Creek Wines was there to give a tasting as all this was going on. And guest Chef Will from Aqua Via was there with Treacy acting as the other half of the food team for the evening, presenting us with unique food bites to enjoy.  He is the young man with the black shirt. Steak tartar, steak on crustini bread with turnip greens and hazelnut pesto, and red pepper hummus on cucumbers were our snacks, and we were free to choose from the array of wines available.

From there we let our food digest and took a trip out to the cattle fields. Our host brought us into the field with the cows where they were doing what I like to call being cows. They greeted us with a chorus and inched their way in closer as we sat there, ever curious about what we were doing in their space.  Mr Colvin explained to us that he does not interfere much with the cows as they are raising their calves. And there were many a cute little calve in the field that night, staying close to their momma’s. Human interference actually makes things harder on the cows and does not help the rancher much either. So his approach is to let much of the birthing process and the cows child rearing happen on its own, and what do you know the cows had a low stress attitude and produced amazing beef as a result. Big meat industry take note!

As the sun began to get a bit low we headed to the site where dinner would take place. Andrea, owner of Scatter Creek Winery, was already there with her table set back up ready to go. She brought a large variety of wines to enhance the dinner experience. The biggest hit of the night was the Pinot. It was a smooth slightly spicy tasting red that complimented everything on the menu that night. She also had a lovely light Merlot that had a berry flavor to it and was just beautiful as a starter wine, and her desert wine, a traditional ice wine, was like candy!

As we began to sip our wine and pick our seats at the table music began to play! Ray and Associates were there to play jazz for us as we ate. Ray and Yoko are a husband and wife duo that helped to set the ambiance. Yoko had a beautiful gentle voice and Ray’s horn skills were electrifying. It was wonderful to hear them play!

Finally a word about the food.

Our Menu was complex. Many a market fresh food was used here. And as you can imagine the food was particularly enticing. The regular words here won’t due, they aren’t sufficient enough to describe the experience. What I will say instead is that something wonderful happens when a group of savvy people get together over particularly prepared food. The food tastes better, people linger longer, the talk gets richer, and entire event becomes the satiating aspect. We lingered until the sun was long gone, talking eating laughing and enjoying ourselves. It was so dark that flashlights had to be used to serve the dessert, but nobody seemed to mind at all!

The moon, which was a perfect half that night, took a particular interest in our dinner, seeming to stay over our site in the same place until we were done. The cattle as well, having come to the fence as we arrived were still there watching us until the very end. Still curious about what the humans were up to. And as I stood apart from the group and drank in a final slow sultry jazz song, taking note of these things as I watched the end of the dinner draw near I almost cried. This was the most extraordinary party I had been to – definitely an affair to remember!

*Slow Food will be hosting one more farm to table dinner on September 23rd. Below is a link to Slow Food and more links to all the wonderful contributors to this months farm to table dinner.

Slow Food Great Olympia

Treacy of Vern’s Food and Farm (formerly Vern’s Restaurant and Webb Lounge)

Will of Aqua Via in Olympia

Scatter Creek Winery

Colvin Ranch

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