Eat Close to the Source @ "Dinners at the Farm"

Stephanie Webster

Dinners at the Farm has hosted its final meal for the season, but for those of you who missed out of this exceptional dining event, make sure you make this a priority for next summer. If you didn't read our post on this last spring, Dinners at the Farm is a series of dinners hosted on farms throughout CT, using ingredients that are produced locally, and benefiting organizations that support our local farming community. 

I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical about driving an hour and a half in the rain to The Old Maids Farm in South Glastonbury to eat dinner in a possibly mosquito laden field. But despite Dinners at the Farm's rustic backdrop, the dining experience was a perfectly run 5 star culinary affair. From the first corn fritter and warm spiced whiskey sour cider, passed as the sun was setting, to the magic of the beautiful candle-lit tent with its white clothed communal was a perfect evening. 

The night began @ 6:30 with cocktails against the backdrop of corn fields, an old tobacco barn, and a bright green and yellow John Deere tractor. Appetizers included the before mentioned corn fritters, bruschetta with goat cheese and roasted plums, duck liver crostini, and some wonderful stuffed fire roasted peppers. Every bite was delicious. Servers were casually dressed in waders, but were as professional and attentive as one might expect from an upscale eatery. In fact the entire evening ran like clockwork…flawless from start to finish. 

@ 7PM, George Purtill rounded us up for a tour of his organic farm, where the we learned about organic compost, crop rotation, the rough season for butternut squash, and heritage turkeys. He regaled us with amusing anecdotes, and reinforced the link between eating food, and understanding its origins. After our tour, we carefully wiped our feet and made our way into the big white double spired white tent to eat some of the organic produce farmed just outside. Two long rows of farm tables and benches (you can call ahead if you need special seating for groups) were donned with wild flowers, fine glassware, white linens and candles. The evening's menu was propped up on a chalk board as you walked in revealing 7 courses of farm fresh inventive cuisine; a frittata stuffed with chevre, apples, pumpkin and bacon; peach and eggplant caponata with fresh mozzarella; chicken with grilled peaches; and molasses spice cake with pumpkin compote to name a few. 

As we took our seats, we introduced ourselves to our dining companions on either side, and settled into a lovely Riesling. When the first course arrived, there were oohs and ash all around the table…and several more rounds of jubilant exclamations thereafter. Every dish was superb, and remarkably every dish was cooked on the back of a big red vintage truck outfitted by The River Tavern in Chester CT. (Road trip TK)

Alas…this was the last of the Dinners at the Farm 4 farm tour for the 2009 season. Chef Jonathan Rapp, (co-founder of Dinners at the Farm and owner of the River Tavern), will return next year to encourage CT residents to source their food close to home and foster a connection to the land. We are looking forward to the 2010 season. 

$3000 from every dinner is donated to a organization or charity chosen at the start of the season. This year, money was donated to the Stanton-Davis Homestead, Connecticut Farmland Trust, Cityseed, and Working Lands Alliance. Dinner is $150 a person and includes welcome cocktails, wine, and beverage service. 

It is truly a night to remember. Don't miss it when it comes around next summer. 

Dinners at the Farm For additional information call the River Tavern restaurant at 860.526.8078 or email