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Outstanding in Either Field

Guests sit down to the Solstice Dinner at Mount Vernon Farm. (Jane Black -- The Washington Post)

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.

Todd Thrasher mixes blueberry lemonade spiked with moonshine. (Jane Black -- The Washington Post)

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.)

Cathal Armstrong, center, and Todd Thrasher, left, plate food for the 150 guests. (Jane Black -- The Washington Post)

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

By Jane Black  |  June 23, 2009; 10:00 AM ET
Categories:  Sustainable Food  | Tags: Jane Black  
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It would be hard to top the dinner we had last Saturday at the Vermilion Summer Solstice Supper. As you note, the weather more than cooperated - and at the Vermilion dinner we got to meet and eat with the farmers which was great. We met Rob Moutoux who grew the peaches for the peach wine (and we were in the peach orchard!) which spiked the Sparkling Viognier (thanks, Dennis Horton). Later, at the dinner down the road in the field, Hana sat next to us; her Potomac Vegetable Farm grew the beets and lettuces. We look forward to seeing her at the Arlington Farmers Market. It was a wonderful, memorable evening - we all hope we can do it again next year.

Posted by: arlingtonjane | June 23, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Thank you for the reporting, Jane. As one of the organizers of the Rappahannock Summer Solstice, it was gratifying to see our guests having such a grand time. Chef Armstrong, mixologist Todd Thrasher and crew seemed to be having a ball too. Always a good thing.

Those elegant farm dinners with starred chefs seem to respond to a certain "hunger" (pun intended) - as proven by the number of enthusiastic spontaneous thank-you e-mails we got. I also heard from other who attended Tony Chittum's dinner, and they were pleased too.

We've got a number of gorgeous photographs besides yours, including many great shots from a guest who posted her on her personal blog. Photos and links to photos maybe found here:

Too many more of this farm dinners!

Sylvie Rowand

Posted by: rowandk | June 24, 2009 9:22 AM | Report abuse

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