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Eat Rural at Local Farm Dinners
My ultimate dream of living off five acres of lush organically-farmed land (preferably in southern France) surrounded by happy farm animals who are all friends and adore me even though I'm going to someday eat them has yet to become a reality. So until then, I'm just going to have to invite myself over to other people's farms for dinner, where they'll show me around and share fascinating tidbits about their crops and growing seasons as I turn green with envy and tune out the parts about how much hard work it actually is.
I plan on being at at least one of these upcoming farm meals, and if you would like to spend an afternoon or evening out in the sticks enjoying incredibly fresh food beautifully prepared by the sweetest darn people ever, you should too.
Dog Mountain Farm in Carnation, whose School of the Lost Arts teaches courses in everything from cheesemaking and canning to fiber arts and storytelling, hosts Farm Dinners weekly on Saturdays with meals prepared by some of our region's biggest-deal chefs: Seth Caswell of Emmer & Rye, Holly Smith of Cafe Juanita, Jelle Vandenbroucke of ART Restaurant, Mark and Marjorie Chang Fuller of Spring Hill and Dustin Ronspies of Art of the Table are a few of the folks on kitchen duty for the rest of the summer. Cost is $100/person for a farm tour and multi-course meal with wine pairings from local wineries. The school also does Locavore Lunches Tuesdays and Sundays, for $35/person. Register online or call 425.333.0833. dogmtfarm.com
Anyone missing Orcas Island foodie dining destination Christina's should head straight to Red Rabbit Farm, where you'll find former chef/owner and cookbook author Christina Orchid now retired and living out her own farmland dream, hosting small groups for dinner every now and then. Orchid, whom Food & Wine magazine identified as one of the early pioneers of the farm-to-table movement for featuring goods from local farmers back in the 1980s, serves large family-style meals where she says "I get to cook whatever I want," but there's usually something for everyone, even those with special dietary restrictions. Ingredients are sourced from her own property, as well as pork and shellfish from Jones Family Farm on Lopez Island (which you can also try at The Walrus and the Carpenter in Ballard) and lamb from Orcas' Coffelt Farm. What do guests do here when not eating? "You can wander around and play with the chickens," Orchid says, "or play bocce ball on the lawn." This is my kinda laid-back evening. Upcoming dinners on August 21 and September 4, $65 (byob/w); call 360.376.3208 for reservations or email email@example.com. redrabbitfarm.com
If you want to eat right at the source of Portland's locavore restaurant scene, join one of Plate & Pitchfork's dinners, a roving feast that takes up residence on various Oregon farms every weekend through the end of August. The program includes a tour of the featured farm followed by an al fresco family-style meal made from its bounty prepared by prominent Portland chefs with pairings from local wineries and breweries. Many are already sold out, but tickets are still available for dinner this Sunday, July 31, at U-pick farm Smith Berry Barn in Hillsboro, Ore. featuring chef Matthew Busetto of Firehouse Restaurant and Gretchen Glatte of Woodlawn Pastry & Coffee. Tickets available online; cost is $125/person, though rumor has it you can get $25 off with the code "pixelpusher." See the website for other dates with spaces still available. plateandpitchfork.com
UPDATE: I also just heard from Josh Henderson that Skillet Diner has its own farm dinner in the works. Dates and details have yet to be worked out, but it will be at Farmstead Meatsmith on Vashon Island, which calls itself a "personal abattoir, butchery and charcuterie service for small farms and homesteads in the Puget Sound region." They also teach lots of classes on skills like killing chickens and preparing pigs for the spit. The Skillet dinner, which will be a fundraiser benefit for the farm, is sure to involve some butchering instruction, lots of good eats and drinks, and a generally bloody good time. skilletdiner.com
See you on the farm!