Here we are, deep in the heart of August. These days you’ll find there are plenty of opportunities to grab a seat at a local farm dinner in Connecticut. After being positively charmed by the mid-week Millstone/Schoolhouse dinner for 60 guests, we jumped in the car on Saturday and headed up to Litchfield County. Destination: Waldingfield Farm, where Chefs Michel Nischan/Dressing Room and Joel Viehland/Community Table prepared an outdoor feast for 150 guests! Both of these farms showed beautifully under the warm, sunny skies. (In case you missed it, Millstone/Schoolhouse photos are here)
Mother nature, thank you for cooperation. If you attended our wedding, you know why I don’t ever take her benevolence for granted.
Table for 150 at Waldingfield Farm
Jim Frey (in the white hat) pours Gertrude’s Garden white from Walker Road Vineyards in Woodbury, CT. The Walker red was served at dinner, where he made the rounds, answering questions and generously topping off everyone’s glass.
Next to Jim are the guys from RIPE. Based out of Wallingford, Connecticut, you can find these refrigerated cocktail mixers in the produce section at Whole Foods (in the Northeast). They served up a Cucumber Daiquiri made with Berkshire Ragged Mountain Rum. These fresh mixers are new to me, but I was immediately encouraged when I recognized our favorite mixologist from 116 Crown (middle, left photo). We’ll miss him seeing him behind the warm glow of the translucent marble bar, but he’s now the newest member of the RIPE team.
Farmer Patrick Horan welcomes dinner guests to the farm and begins the farm tour
Gazpacho shooters, served to the matriarch of the Waldingfield. This farm has been in her family for 5 generations.
Sunflowers, frequented by the bees that live in an adjacent field.
A quirky touch to this farm dinner: you are encouraged to bring your own plate from home.
What a view!
I forgot to photograph the kettle mac & cheese (with pork belly) when it came to the table. This is the only glimpse you’ll get.
But with kale in the foreground, this photo’s got a healthy, superfood to off-set the cheesy goodness.
Chefs Joel Viehland and Michel Nischan grilling Longmeadow Farm chicken in the afternoon heat.
Endless sun and warm temps, but here’s the payoff: The view from the kitchen.
Waldingfield has a gorgeous crop of heirloom tomatoes. If you aren’t near their farmstand in Washington, CT, you can also find them at the Weston Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings. How do I know this? I sat next to farmer Quincy Horan at dinner!
Chopped salad: fresh plums, sea island peas, baby carrots, chevre, toasted almonds, frisée, and mustard vinaigrette
My favorite part about attending a farm dinner? Meeting other food-lovers. You sit down at long communal table, with the meal served family-style. You’ll get to know your neighbors as you share both food and wine. We went to Waldingfield with our friends Judy & John. The four of us met over dinner at Souterrain and in the past year we’ve shared many more meals together.
Chef Viehland finishing up
I borrowed this tomato for a photograph and I think there was some concern it might not be returned…
The chicken arrives (left) and clearly has an aura of awesomeness. And that’s before anyone’s even tasted it.
Can you tell this dish was my favorite?
Longmeadow Farm pasture raised chicken with heirloom onions, peppers, kale topped with chimichurri sauce
This is no Sartorialist shot, but really – hats off to anyone who can rock a look featuring paisley pants.
Dressing Room meatloaf with caramelized onion gravy
I think Chef Nischan is happy to be out of the kitchen, visiting with guests (like DR regulars Judy and John) and promoting his non-profit, Wholesome Wave.
This photo was born out of user error, but I still love it.
And this fellow’s got the right idea. Forget the camera. There is a magic to the evening that cannot be captured by a lens.
In the inky darkness after dinner, there was still one more stop. While I was off chatting with Joel and Audra, Judy and John netted an invitation to drop in at the Waldingfield family house. In a final generous act, the Horans welcomed us into their living room, where we quietly chatted, coffee cups in hand.
I have often thought a coffee table was meant to be buried underneath stacks of reading material. Something just like this.
Twilight at Morningside
RK -This event was by Outstanding in the Field.
However, I recommend these summer farm dinners in Connecticut:
Schoolhouse at Cannondale of Wilton hosts at Millstone Farm (reasonable $65 pp, BYOB + tip additional)
River Tavern of Chester hosts at various farms on the East Shoreline ($125 pp, inclusive of tip and wine)
leFarm of Westport hosts at various locations via Souterrain ($160pp, inclusive of tip and wine)
Be on the lookout starting in April or May, the early bird gets the seat at a farm dinner! Most of them sell out quickly.
This looks amazing. How does one find themselves in such a gathering? I want to go!
Twilight at Morningside
Thank you Ann. Hearing that means so much to me. I’m not just interested in the food, I’m fascinated by the people and the places behind it.
Liz, I love how these photos give you such a good sense of PLACE and PEOPLE.