Last week we hosted a fall dinner at Civil Coffee where we showcased fall specialty produce cooked, raw, and pickled.
Most of the menu was set up as an edible centerpiece which is a great way for people who do not know each other to mingle over food, and also to prevent waste from decor because guests just eat it all! HERE and HERE are a couple other examples of this concept in food design.
Yeah Rentals brought in tables and chairs to make a really long dinner table for 40 guests to sit together and feel cozy. Doesn’t it look cool? It was so easy to achieve by pushing the tables together.
One more shot here so you can see some of the details.
Oh, sorry! One more angle! It was all just such a joy to see in person.
Early on, our friend Nick Griffith of Uncle Nearest Whiskey volunteered to donate whiskey and create some cocktails for this event. This juice is very smooth, goes down nice on it’s own. The company is small female owned which is unusual in liquid spirits and great to support!
That’s me on the left with Christine Moore of Lincoln in Pasadena and Little Flower and Farmer Sherry Mandell of Tehachapi Grain Project, both bringing sweet gifts.
Seeing two people who I admire and respect with big smiles here is the happiest feeling! This is Farmer Mike of Baby Root Farms who has taken over Mc Grath Farms. He is with Karen Beverlin who sources our ingredients. Did you see her big feature in the NY Times? If not HERE it is.
VEGAN HOT DOG APPETIZERS made with a confit and smoked Weiser Farm baby carrots, bbq aoli, and a grilled heritage wheat bun were the hit of the party, seriously.
VEGAN ANIMAL FRIES: At the farmers market, our chef Matt was inspired to make my favorite dish, animal fries, from the elegant black and green haricot verts. Blanched in a bit of salt, they are naturally crisp and topped with honeynut squash “queso” and carmelized onions.
Oh more of the table before everyone sits down! We’ve got lots of squash, stone fruit, root veggies, some local cheeses, all good for noshing while meeting new people.
I got pretty tongue tied expressing my joy at such beams of light around this table. I think it is important to bring as many light forces together as possible as often as possible so we can all push together to squash out the darkness that fills the news media. Together, activated, we can make change and move the needle for more balance in our current political and environmental climate. Apathy makes us all lose.
Many of the guests at this dinner worked in non-profit ranging from Alliance for Children’s Rights, NRDC, and Planned Parenthood. There were advocates for youth aging out of foster care, and social workers for veterans. I wish I could have sat next to everyone here! Above you see Farmer Alex Weiser who I asked to speak about some of the ingredients on the table from his farm. He told us about the special squash seeds he has been growing like the Honeynut Squash developed by Chef Dan Barber. Farmer Sherry talked about growing heritage grains here in California.
VEGAN ASSORTED FALL SQUASH RISOTTO: Our Chef Matt describes to guests how he made this hot dish from locally grown Koda Rice, a bunch of squashes from Weiser and Windrose Farms, blended pumpkin puree, spicy pumpkin seeds, sautéed greens, and crispy sage.
Karen tells us the average age of small farmers is 62. Without the subsidies of big agriculture, the lives of small farmers is a huge struggle. It’s up to each of us three times a day to support them with the ingredients we choose to cook with and the food makers we purchase from.
Farmer Mike talks about how significant it has been for food makers like us to purchase his overages and “ugly” produce. It enables him to have less waste and generate revenue to keep his operation going. We are lucky to have clients who understand that a our ingredients and substitutions are dictated by what farmers like Mike deliver to us weekly and even bi-weekly.
We end with a coffee whiskey drink and this lovely See Canyon pear salad with warm ricotta that our kitchen made on site. It was so special that I noticed some vegan friends indulging. I mean it was still warm!! And on the most luscious pears. What a great night! Looking forward to our next seasonal dinner.
Photos: Michael Newsted