The abundance of ramps across Connecticut menus this past week not only signals spring, but also the imminent seasonal collaborations between local farms and the chefs who love them. For Connecticut's farm-loving dining scene, this can only mean one thing—farm dinners are just around the corner.
Why do we at CTbites look forward to these farm dinners so much? It allows us to celebrate and support both the chef as well as the farmer while appreciating the bounty of the Connecticut landscape that we call home (many, but not all of these dinners are fundraisers). With the promise of a new destination and communal seating, diners can enjoy the company of like-minded food lovers. And of course there is the simple and pleasurable act of dining en plein air with grass beneath your feet.
As it is still early in the season, this list of a dozen or so events is in formation, so if you'd like to recommend a dinner or an event we may have missed, please include it in the comments and we will update our list. Whether you look forward to farm dinners as much as we do, or have yet to embrace this seasonal ritual, we encourage you to give one or many a try this year!
Location: Ambler Farm, Wilton
Dates: Summer Picnic, June 8; Ambler Farm Day, fall 2013
Ambler Farm is a frequent host for farm events and dinners, frequently partnering with area chefs. Their annual events include a Summer Picnic on June 8, called "An Evening in the Garden," and Ambler Farm Day held each Fall.
Connecticut Farmland Trust @ Ashlawn Farm
Last year, Connecticut Farmland Trust held their 12th annual benefit at Ashlawn Farm in Lyme featuring food from chef Keving Cottle's JORDAN catering in September, with special guests that included Jacques Pepin and Christine Baranski. Stay tuned as they release information about this year's special event.
Dinners at the Farm
Chefs: Jonathan Rapp & Thomas Peterlik and The Team
Locations: Barberry Hill Farm in Madison, Scott’s Farm & Greenhouses in Essex, & White Gate Farm in East Lyme
Dates: Various, check their schedule
Price: $150 per person
Now in its seventh season, Dinners at the Farm is a series of multi-course feasts featuring locally grown food in the fields of host farms Barberry Hill Farm in Madison CT, Scott’s Farm & Greenhouses in Essex CT, and White Gate Farm in East Lyme CT. These evenings are fundraisers and include a tour of the farm.
Farm to Trumbull with Parallel Post
Farm-To-Trumbull an intimate four-part culinary dinner series hosted by Parallel Post for up to 30 guests. These evenings will be led byJames Beard-nominated chef Dean James Max and will be at Parallel Post and possibly off-site farm locations. From Parallel Post: “Guests can warm the palate with a welcome cocktail and sampling of small bites, followed by a family-style dinner ripe with the season’s finest local ingredients, wine pairings presented by our mixologist and an all-you-can-indulge dessert bar."
Holbrook Farm Dinners: Stanziato's Pizza & Chef Michael Bick
Chefs: Michael Bick of Somethings Fishy Catering & Matt Stanczak of Stanziato's Pizza
Location: Holbrook Farm, Bethel
Dates: July 28 & September 22 [Michel Bick], Stanziato's dates TBD
Information: somethingsfishycatering.com | stanziatos.com
Chef Michael Bick of Somethings Fishy Catering will host two dinners at Holbrook Farm in Bethel on July 28 and September 22 (and you can also catch Chef Bick in Newtown on April 21 at Butcher’s Best Market and at Keeler Tavern on Mother’s Day, May 12). Stanziato's Pizza will be scheduling another Farm to Pizza event in the summer, stay tuned for more information on that festive event, it is one of our personal favorites of the year!
Jonathan Edwards Vineyard
Restaurants: 85 Main, Octagon, Max’s Oyster Bar, Daniel Packer Inne, and CW’s Chops and Catch.
Date: May 5
One of Connecticut's most beautiful vineyards, Jonathan Edwards is a popular spot for private events. They also host their own series of events including this "Culinary Showdown" featuring five restaurants from eastern Connecticut and five from Rhode Island who will battle it out to benefit Connecticut Farmland Trust and Rhode Islands Chef’s Collaborative.
Max Restaurant's Chef to Farm
Chef: Scott Miller
Max Restaurant will be reprising their successful farm dinner series, Max Chef to Farm, for 2013. Last year's ambitious calendar of events included dinners at Rosedale Farms and Vineyards in Simsbury, Starlight Gardens in Durham, The Farmers' Cow in Lebanon, Nathan Hale Homestead in Coventry, and Belltown Hill Orchards in South Glastonbury. Check their website soon for their 2013 schedule.
Millstone & The Schoolhouse at Cannondale
Chef: Tim LaBant, The Schoolhouse at Cannondale, Wilton
Dates: June 20, July 18, August 15 and September 19: 6:30 to 9 pm rain or shine
Price:$126.35 [includes tax + gratuity]
Location: Millstone Farm
Millstone Farm will be hosting The Schoolhouse at Cannondale’s F2F dinners the 3rd Wednesday of the month this year from June through September: June 20, July 18, August 15 and September 19. Reservations for the dinners open one month prior to the date. This is a first come first serve on the reservations and the tickets are $126.35 which includes all tax and gratuity and BYOB is welcome. This year the event will include an interactive/informative workshop during the cocktail hour as well as a farm tour. These will vary for each event, and will be announced in the coming months.
Outstanding in the Field [9/5 Date SOLD OUT]
Chefs: Jason Sobocinski, Caseus Fromagerie & Bistro, & Bill Taibe, The Whelk & le Farm.
Dates: September 4 & 5
Price: $220 pp
Farmers/Locations: Quincy & Patrick Horan, Waldingfield Farm; Dina Brewster of The Hickories,Ridgefield
"Outstanding in the Field is a roving culinary adventure – literally a restaurant without walls." Their mission is to re-connect diners to the land and the origins of their food, and to honor the local farmers and food artisans who cultivate it. This event often sells out the same day tickets go on sale, so plan accordingly.
Priam Vineyards: Wine to Table
Location: Priam Vineyards, Colchester
Chef: Rivershouse Catering, Avon
Dates: May 12, June 15, July 20, August 17
Price: $25 pp + tax [Mother's Day event]
Info/RSVP: 860.267.8520 | priamvineyards.com
Priam Vineyards is hosting their second season of wine patio dinners at their Colchester vineyard. The first event of the season is a Mother's Day "Vine to Table" picnic lunch. Be sure to check back for more details on each event as the dates approach, menus, pricing and additional event dates coming soon.
Sport Hill Farm
Location: Sport Hill Farm, Easton
Dates: May 15
Price: $20 pp
Info/RSVP: email@example.com | sporthillfarm.com
The most casual of the bunch is Sport Hill Farm's locavore lunch with food and drink by Collyer Catering. An informal gathering, this event requires advance reservations and is only $20 per person.
Wakeman Town Farm
Location: Wakeman Town Farm, Westport
Dates: Harvest Dinner on September 21
There are many events at the farm, but the annual Fall Harvest dinner is a festive community event you won't want to miss.
If you can't make it to the farm, here are a few restaurants that are hosting special farm-focused dinners in their own spaces:
Barcelona Wine Bar: Fairfield
Chef: Helton DaSilva
Their farm table situated in their own vegetable garden at their Fairfield location is the perfect way to create your own version of a farm dinner, perfect in the summer months when their vegetable crops are peaking.
Firebox Restaurant: Frog Hollow Social Club
Chef: Sean Farrel
Price/Dates: $65 per person
Information: 860.246.1222 | firstname.lastname@example.org
The “Frog Hollow Social Club” is a constantly evolving gathering centered around food, drink, music and art. The first meeting was a 9 course tasting menu consisting of small plates and unique pairings geared toward the adventurous eater. Served in the Tavern @ Firebox, $65 per person, non-inclusive of tax & gratuity. Second "meeting" will be held on May 6, 2013.
Price/Dates: Weekly Farmers' prix fixe: $30 for 3 courses