“En Plein Air” is a French expression which means "in the open air"…and on July 10th and 11th, BONDA Chef/Owner Jamie Cooper braved the threat of thunderstorms and hosted two dinners at the Greenfield Hill Grange #133 in Fairfield, one of only five Granges left in Fairfield County.
The evenings, both sold out events, featured not only Jamie’s signature style of preparing unique dishes using local ingredients and creative seasonings and pairings, but also the 120-year-old Greenfield Hill Grange, a historic nod to the days when local farmers met to trade or sell their produce and livestock. The Grange, or officially, The National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, is a fraternal organization in the United States which encourages families to band together to promote the economic and political well being of the community and agriculture, wastruly the “original” Farmers Market!
While the weather held up on Wednesday evening, clearing and cooling off and leading to a delightful outdoor dining experience, attendees on Thursday night were not so lucky…weather-wise that is, but fortunate in another sense in that they got to experience the true meaning of neighborhood and community by dining inside the main Grange Hall under twinkling lights and colorful lanterns.
Both evenings began with a cocktail hour outdoors in the grassy Grange backyard. The table, enhanced with bright orange chairs, was set with fresh flowers and candles, and surrounded by tall oak trees and the open sky. A special signature cocktail of fresh strawberries, watermelon, lemon, lime, honey, vodka and a sprig of mint was offered to all as BONDA staff circulated with hors d’oeuvres such as cantaloupe with gorgonzola, spicy grilled shrimp with chipotle dipping sauce and quesadillas with fresh guacamole.
The casual chatter among new and old friends was interrupted by the distant rumble of thunder as we gazed skyward to see what appeared to be a threatening series of clouds headed our way.
As we felt the first few drops of rain, we were ushered in doors by Jamie’s delightful wife, Kimberely, where two long tables were already being re-set for the rest of the evenings dinner.
No amount of rain could dampen the festive mood of the evening, as the party continued in the hallowed halls of yesteryear.
A four-course dinner was planned as Jamie and his hard working staff manned the antique but fully working kitchen…preparing and cooking on antique iron cooktops and weathered wood countertops.
The menu included:
Poached Filet of Wild King Salmon over two sauces: Basil Vinaigrette and Cucumber Dill
Sausage and Pepper Risotto Fritter over Arugula-Fennel-Cherry Tomato Salad, with Gazpacho Vinaigrette
Coffee-Chili Rubbed Flank Steak with two side salads: Grilled Corn Salad and Farro.
Lillet Poached Nectarines topped with whipped cream.
White, Rose, and Red wines were paired with each dish and flowed freely.
As the evening came to a close, the rain stopped, a few stars appeared and many stepped outside to the front porch of the Grange to enjoy a final glass of wine and marvel at the charm and history that must have taken place behind those front doors.
BONDA- 75 Hillside Ave. Fairfield CT 06824 (203) 292-9555
Greenfield Hill Grange #133- 1873 Hillside Ave. Fairfield, CT 06824
To support and become a member of the Greenfield Hill Grange please visit www.ctstategrange.org