One of my “to do’s” on my 32 before 32 was to attend a farm dinner. Unlike so many other things on that list that I’ve utterly failed to tick off, I have actually made it to two farm dinners this year. You can click on this link to read about the first one at Blackberry Meadows Farm. For a second one, we went on a double-date outing with some foodie friends to Churchview Farm.
Although I spent several years as a vegetarian, I fell off that bandwagon while pregnant with Baby Beez (craving hotdogs, 24-7), and now I’ve turned into quite the charcuterie snob. When I saw that Crested Duck Charcuterie, an amazing brilliant beautiful wonderful butcher shop & teeny-tiny restaurant in Beechview, was the featured restaurant for an upcoming Churchview Farm Dinner, I was ALL ABOUT IT.
Churchview is a small family farm nestled away in the hills of Baldwin. Churchview is a well-known name in the restaurant & local food circles in Pittsburgh, and it was neat to see how a farm providing so many fruits, veggies and herbs all throughout the city can provide so much on such a small parcel of land. The evening started off with a little farm tour, led by the farmer, Tara Rockacy. It was neat to see everything growing, and the chickens and guinea hens waddling around and clucking, but it was especially nice to hear in Tara’s voice how much this farm and her work mean to her. Farming is certainly not easy work, and I can imagine that running a farm in basically an urban area is even harder. But it comes through clearly that she finds meaning and beauty in what she does, and she is proud to share it.
On to the meal! These farm dinners are special because the chef, here Kevin Costa, spoke about the thoughts and motivations behind each course. I admit that I was really looking forward to a massive dinner all full of charcuterie, and was a little disappointed to hear the Chef announced that he instead chose to draw his inspiration from the beautiful produce of the farm, and work more with the fresh vegetables and fruits, rather than the cured meats which so often drive his dishes. My disappointment was short lived, as each course was so delightful.
First up was the salad nicoise, although it did not have any tuna in it, so I don’t exactly know what makes it nicoise. In any event, it was delicious. The pickles were so fresh and the boiled egg was just at that perfect level where it’s all just barely cooked, but not so cooked that it’s all pasty.
The pate en croute was hands down my favorite dish of the evening. It’s so weird looking, that I think if it were offered to me in any context, I would have been like “no thank you, I do not want to eat that.” But I’m so glad that the timing and presentation was just right to get me to try it, because it was awesome. The only way I can describe it is that it’s like a little charcuterie platter baked together in pastry? I think? In any event, so good. It also satisfied my charcuterie craving for the evening, so that was a good thing.
Here’s the part where I will mention the lovely wine pairings that were coordinated with each course. So very, very delicious. Thanks to those delicious lovely wine pairings, this is around the course where I no longer really remember the particulars, other than “TASTY!” This is the light and lovely bouillabaisse. Tasty tasty.
Oh, this cheese plate, so good. Everything about it was so perfect, except for it being so teeny tiny. I tried to steal Mr. Beez’ cheese plate but he jabbed me with his fork. So good. Did I tell you how good it was? I’ve never thought of pairing cheese and almond paste, but omg so good.
We wrapped up the evening with a dessert of a sweet swiss chard tart. I think this would make an amazing breakfast dish. The chard makes it hearty, but the candied pine nuts, golden raisins, orange zest and whipped cream ensure that it’s nice and sweet. Like the pate, it’s not something I would ordinarily pick on my own, but I was glad that it was presented to me how and when it was, because I did like it quite a lot.
There are a few seats left at the remaining Churchview Farm Dinners this summer. The experience was such a lovely, laid back evening, and the food and wine, just lovely. I was full from my dinner when I started writing this post, but now after revisiting all those food memories, my stomach’s rumbling again. Gotta go rustle up some grub.