Hello everyone, Jess here, ready to share about Springdell’s First Annual Farm to Fork Dinner, which was held at the Red Raven Gastropub at Nagog Park in Acton last night. Our family got back one day early from our Maine vacation just in time to attend this event, and what a way to wrap up the trip! After being stuck in a bit of traffic, we arrived in time to walk in to the Red Raven with our radiant Springdell Farmer Jamie Cruz. Jamie was adorning a lovely outfit that quite the departure from the John Deere cap and farmer-alls that we have come to know and love. She was still sporting cowboy boots, harkening back to her farm roots, (you can take the lady out of the farm, but…). Venturing into the back of the restaurant and out to the garden patio area, we met up with the rest of the Farm Crew, who I must say, all clean up quite nicely!
Before sitting, we were invited to enjoy a couple of lovely cocktails, complete with farm fresh ingredients. I tried the Lemongrass Thyme Whisky Smash, which was simple, fresh and delicious. My better half Glen tried the White Watermelon Martini, which had a beautiful balance of sweet and sour. For those following the blog this summer, you may have read about the way the drought has effected the watermelon crop, causing some melons to remain white and sour versus red and sweet. The staff at Red Raven used the red melons in the martini, and the white melons acted as a unique garnish, creating a lovely balance of sweet and sour. Hints of fresh basil rounded out this drink perfectly. The Red Raven apparently knows this adage – when life hands you sour melons, make a martini!
After chatting with our fellow farm family from both sides of the farm stand counter, we all sat down to unite for our meal, which I was happy to learn was to be served family style!
Springdell zinnias, gladiolas and peacock feathers adorned our tables. Our first course consisted of Sungold tomato and grape focaccia. Marinated olives an lamb and rice stuffed grape leaves were wonderful with the dilly tzatziki.
The leaves themselves were from the Springdell family vines, in the family for 200 years and counting! (Have you heard the rumor that the farm will be knocking down some of the raspberries to make room for more grapes?)
Next came the soup. I enjoyed a borscht, which had some nice surprises including egg, dill, radish and High Lawn Farm cream.
A Greek village salad featured the heirloom tomatoes many of us are enjoying in our shares right now. It was perfectly delicious with the suggested glass of Rosé.
Fresh Burrata from our friends at Mozzarella House made a welcome appearance.
At this point Chef Dean Szablewski joined us in the garden patio to share with us about the upcoming course of Jerk chicken. This chicken was cooked authentically, minus the smoking of the chicken over pimento wood. Tender and delicious, a perfect accompaniment to the butter and sugar corn and basmati rice. The jerk flavor was great but left me wanting for a little more spice (I tend to like it very spicy but I absolutely understand this dinner must appeal to everyone, so Chef’s balance was spot on here). We particularly enjoyed the suggested pairing of Tank 7 Saison, a refreshing Belgian summer ale which featured notes of fresh grapefruit and orange zest, coriander and ginger. Chef Dean was met with applause as he returned to the kitchen and we continued on this culinary adventure.
As the sun went down giving way to the glow of the mason jar candles hanging in the trees, a few of us seated near the woods and pond became nervous that the mosquitoes would be an issue. After a quick trip to the minivan for the family friendly bug spray (a Mom’s minivan prerequisite along with sunscreen), the bugs quickly got the message and left us to our meal. Onto the next course!
A Springdell steak sampler featured select premium cuts, an was joined by roasted garden vegetables and delicious potatoes from C. Spiczka Farm. The potatoes were crispy, meaty, and perfectly balanced against the tender steak, my only regret by this point in the meal was that I had not saved more room in my belly. Thank goodness we were headed for the dessert course, I somehow always have room for dessert!
The Baklava & Loukoumatha were absolutely irresistible featuring cinnamon, walnut, and “Uncle Ted’s honeycomb” (a gentleman from Wayland that shares his flavorful honeycombs with the Red Raven). The buttery baklava was hearty and well balanced, and the honeycomb on top allowed the level of sweetness to remain in control of the taster. The Loukoumatha was simply divine, light, fluffy and crispy in all the right places. A Sweet E’s Sunflower cookie rounded out the plate. Finally, the perfect chaser of a Tower Rootbeer float with Goss Farm Vanilla Ice Cream served in a martini glass and allowing for the maximum ice cream surface area. I found this idea to be genius and will be serving root beer floats this way in my home from now on. My favorite decaf from Tim Van Sipe’s Muddy Water was a warm and familiar way to ground myself before heading home. Oh what a night!
If you missed this event, you’ll be happy to know that the Red Raven has other events such as dinners featuring wine and beer tastings, their first featured wine event will be held on October 13th. Red Raven’s standard menu fare features fresh and local ingredients, many of which are from Springdell Farms.
Will there be a Second Annual Springdell Farm to Fork Dinner? We can only hope! I for one am all for it! Many thanks to all the local farms and businesses who came together to bring this very special event to life!