Outstanding in Either Field
Two Washington chefs officially welcomed summer this past weekend with dueling solstice dinners on Virginia farms. Restaurant Eve's Cathal Armstrong cooked for 150 at Mount Vernon Farm near Sperryville; Vermilion's Anthony Chittum fed 120 at Wheatland Vegetable Farms in Loudoun County.
I attended the dinner in Sperryville, organized by the Gourmet Rappahannock Food & Wine Consortium to raise money to preserve farmland in the county. Early in the day, we wondered if weather would make the event a soggy mess. But just an hour before Restaurant Eve mixologist Todd Thrasher set out the first cocktail -- blueberry lemonade spiked with moonshine and sage -- the sun came out and a glorious summer breeze moved across the hills. The sunset, which came around 8:30 p.m., was brilliant.
So was the food. Armstrong served a salad of baby lettuce, shaved beet and smoked trout, paired with wine from Gadino Cellars right up the road. Next came roasted lamb loin, sourced from Mount Vernon Farm, served with braised lamb, potatoes and peas. Local cheese drizzled with nuts and honey and a warm bread pudding rounded out the feast.
(The food reportedly was delicious at Chittum's dinner as well. On his menu: Chicory greens with deviled egg and sherry vinaigrette; Virginia ham-wrapped scallops and crab cakes, a mixed grill of local meats; and goat's milk cheesecake with black pepper strawberry preserves. And as if that wasn't enough, he even sent guests home with Virginia peanut butter cookies.)
Sound like fun? (It was.) If you would like to attend a farm dinner, there's still time. Outstanding in the Field, an organization that all but invented the fine-dining farm dinner, is holding a series of dinners at Ayrshire Farm in Upperville on Sept. 5, 6 and 7. The events are limited to 120 guests. According to Outstanding in the Field's Web site, there is still availability on Sept. 7, when Bryan Moscatello of Zola will be cooking. Tickets are $180 per person.
-- Jane Black
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