What a treat to experience Max’s first Chef to Farm dinner of the 2016 summer season. It’s safe to say that this will absolutely not be my last farm dinner. From the serene scenery of Rosedale Farms & Vineyards to the cleverly decorated tables, each detail was both thoughtful and fitting for an elegantly simple harvest feast.
Upon arrival, we strolled by rows of grapevines to the tent, which was situated right in front of Rosedale’s vibrant red barn. Greeted by live acoustic music, we passed the wine table and sampled Rosedale’s signature white dessert wine, Serendipity and the oh so smooth, Lou’s Red. Drink in hand, I made my way to our table. Fruits and vegetables aplenty served as the table decorations atop a floral tablecloth. *Mental note*: “replicate the candle votives filled with berries and tomatoes at next summer party...shamelessly take credit for the stroke of creative genius.”
Turning from the table to head towards the ample cheese and crudites table, we were quickly offered strawberry ricotta bruscetta. It was a perfect starter bite - crunchy, creamy and sweet. This was only the beginning of the passed hors d’oeuvres, which included: sea salt-butter Easter radishes, lamb meatballs and my absolute favorite - the garden vegetable beignets with a ranch dip. So many delicious noms, so little time! Before we could get swept up in the current of amazingly fresh apps, we walked to the field for the farm tour. We hopped in the back of a roomy truck trailer with our full wine glasses and were off. On the tour, we learned that Rosedale Farms & Vineyards produces sweet corn, tomatoes, grapes, flowers and countless other fruits and vegetables. They do grow some organic produce and also hydroponically grow various greens. They noted that their bibb lettuce is regularly used at some of the Max Group Restaurants. I loved the emphasis on “locally sourced” throughout the entire event. You could tell everyone on the farm loves what they do and the farm itself is very community supportive.
Post tour, back at the tent, we made a beeline for the cheese and crudites table. There were a variety of fresh vegetables, some dipping options (one creamy, one hummus-y), four cheeses (Arethusa Europa, Arethusa Cry Baby, Mystic Frost and Arethusa Blue) and fresh oysters. Obviously I took one of each and tried my hardest to savor each bite.
Guests were invited to take their seats at long, family style tables around 7:15. Awaiting us were refreshing strawberry mint lemonade cocktails and our choice of wines. Staff from Rosedale Farms said a few words to welcome us to the event. After, the incredibly attentive servers made their way around to each guest to ask about any accommodations that needed to be made. I don’t eat meat and was so appreciative that they were happy to substitute the lamb entree with salmon. Color me impressed that even in the great outdoors, the Max team was prepared and eager to make it an amazing experience...mission accomplished!
Moments later, our first course arrived, a chilled sweet pea soup and was followed by wave after wave of courses, which included: fresh rolls from Hartford Baking Co., a roasted strawberry salad with Mystic Cheese, poached Stonington fluke and finally the Moroccan spiced Sepe Farms lamb (or in my case salmon). I was honestly almost stuffed after the salad. But despite the performance anxiety I was experiencing with the impending courses, I focused on the mission at hand and ate my way through the third course, fluke with crispy squash blossom, mashed zucchini and saffron butter and onto the main event: Moroccan spiced salmon with pickled asparagus, grilled spring onion, ramp pesto orzo and tzatziki sauce. You bet I was grateful to be wearing a loose dress because I polished practically every bite of each course. The fresh ingredients, the perfect pairings, exquisite preparation...I could go on and on. It was too good to pass up. The dinner ended with a Rosedale strawberries upside down cake with ginger rhubarb ice cream and ginger crumble. Perfection. Max’s Oyster Bar’s Chef Hunter Morton gave thanks and closing remarks around 9pm. We left with full belly’s, a fresh scone for the morning and a knowing smile on our faces.
I would recommend the Max’s Chef to Farm dinner to anyone looking for amazing, local, food in an idyllic location. The conversations were pleasant, the ambiance was lovely and who can top the acoustic version of “You Can Call Me Al”. The cherry on top of this phenomenal dinner is that some proceeds from event go to the CT Farmland Trust.
Max Restaurant Group's Chef to Farm dinner series goes well into the Fall so you have many chances to attend one yourself. To see their full schedule of dinners and festivals, visit maxcheftofarm.com.
Disclaimer: We were invited to the event, however all thoughts and opinions are our own.