Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Nature's Bounty

Ben Bebenroth's idea of bringing people out to area farms for dinner just doesn't get old. The chef and owner of  Spice Kitchen and Bar has been doing it since 2005, and I've attended these Plated Landscape Dinners multiple times, most recently earlier this month at Muddy Fork Farm near Wooster. It was as magical and memorable as ever.

The weather, the astonishingly good food, and grower Monica Bongue, who supplied just-picked ingredients including the asparagus served for our first course, made the event perfect, and that's a word I don't use often or casually. The long table, set up in a grassy space between the rhubarb patch, some fruit trees and the chicken coop, was covered in white linen and set with wine glasses and wildflowers. Six minute eggs and freshly made hollandaise came out of the temporary outdoor kitchen. Walleye, skirt steak and bread were grilled on a grate suspended over a campfire. Before the meal, guests got tours of the beautiful property from Bongue, who operates the farm with the help of her husband, as well as passed hors d'oeuvres and an excellent cocktail featuring ginger syrup and tequila. Well-paired reds and whites were poured with every course. Service, under the watchful, seasoned eye of Jess Edmonds, who favors dresses and cowboy boots, was impeccable. Ducks waddled by, the dog barked, the hens clucked, birds sang, breezes blew, the sun set with a gorgeous glow, the band played on and the world was a happy place.

You can make reservations for your own enchanted evening. There are dinners scheduled through October. My husband, Barney Taxel, took photos that show why you should.


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