Friday night was like a dream.
Only with amazing food. And wine. And a table that looked like it came out of the French countryside.
I was offered a last minute ticket by a friend to a Farm to Plate Dinner at Kruger’s Farms; it was a privately catered event to be held at one of my favorite spots about twenty minutes from my house. Matt couldn’t come last minute, but they were looking for someone who could spend a few hours eating multiple courses in the middle of a farm.
Would I be interested?
Are you kidding me? I am so your gal.
I think it was the first Kruger Farm to Plate dinner of the season, and our party of eight was roughly one-quarter of the assembled guests.
There was quite a spread waiting for us under the shade of the oak: stuffed squash blossoms, a gorgeous array of local cheeses and Olympic Provisions charcuterie, fresh fruits and crostini, all put together in the most visually stunning way (can one of you teach me how to put together such a good-looking buffet?).
How do you like the little bee above the crostini ? I guess he heard the buzz about all the good grub here.
Just look at that artichoke.
We nibbled, bought some wine and took in the view, chatting with Don Kruger and some of the other guests there.
I knew most of the people in my party, but not all, so it was fun to chat with new faces Lori and Andrew a little bit. That’s Portland for you — no matter how long you’ve been there, there are always more lovely people you want to get to know better.
Everyone else in our party I’ve known for years; they were in my first wave of Moms I met when I moved here from San Francisco a dozen years ago. These are just a few of the many faces who were part of my original welcome wagon. These lovelies were the ones who treated this stranger to meals, endless advice, and watched Oliver when I didn’t yet know a soul here.
With our kids in different schools and many of us now living in adjoining neighborhoods, I’m always so grateful to be reunited (however briefly) with them.
Let’s talk grub.
We were told to find a place at the table – dinner was being served.
The first course was a roasted beet salad with baby lettuces, Oregon hazelnuts and Gorgonzola cheese. The vinaigrette was spot-on perfect; Ryan the amazing chef/organizer/server told me she put orange and honey and a bit of shallot and olive oil in a jar and just gave it a shake.
So so good.
Here’s Ryan presenting us with a platter of barely steamed green beans with squash blossoms and a generous flurry of ricotta salata cheese added atop. Don said that the beans had been picked just a few hours before, and you could tell — they were so fresh with a bright grassy sweetness.
We could not get enough of them.
With all the appetizers, Ken’s Artisan baguettes, and two courses under our tightening belts, I think we could have stopped right there, but there was so much more ahead.
Here was a grilled squash and zucchini salad with lots of fresh basil. None of the squash were much longer than my pointer finger and they had just the slightest kiss of smoke from the giant grill just twenty feet or so from where we were sitting; I think Don’s wife Sandra was in charge of the grilling and her technique was masterful — not a single veggie was over or under-cooked.
Tasting this dish reminded me how different vegetables can taste depending on the amount of time that separates picking and eating.
These veggies were still growing up until just that morning, and they could not have been more supple, sweet, and true to their wholesome natures.
Put your feet up — we have so much more noshing to do.
Corn on cob was then offered, each with plump kernels that squirted upon chomping. When was the last time an ear of corn made you apologize to your table mate because its juiciness had resulted in a future trip to the dry cleaner?
I had the first bite straight up and then succumbed to the melted basil butter being passed around. Please, a girl can only hold out on the butter temptation for so long.
As the crew worked to grill the giant pieces of cedar-planked salmon (initial attempts resulted in slightly under-cooked — but still safe– flesh), we all drank wine, taking in the sun-drenched fields, weathered barns, and tiny birds and butterflies in happy flight. The sun overhead warmed our faces but cooling breezes made us all perfectly comfortable.
I know the staff was stressing about the requisite longer cooking times for the salmon, but I think we eaters were just grateful for a few minutes of respite before further feasting.
A magnificent five pound loaf of Ken’s Artisan Bread was presented to us, and we nibbled on that, too.
And then the main event.
Miraculously, we all found more room in our full bellies.
My hats off to all those hardworking people that pulled this off — Don and Sandra Kruger, Ryan, and others who served us wine, did food prep, and brought all these delicacies to our table. I’m sorry I didn’t grab all your names, but I so appreciate all your hard work.
Like this guy who happily answered all our questions, chatted with us and even posed for us.
Is it just me or is he a doppelganger for Saul from Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul? I found the resemblance uncanny.
(And if I find out that Bob Odenkirk was doing research here in Portland for a new character, you doubters all owe me a bucket of popcorn.)
Meanwhile, there was no shortage of conversation.
Or something pretty to look at.
Or another new thing to stick in your craw.
Like this sensational blackberry almond tart with vanilla ice cream.
Afterwards, we walked through the fields to check out the views from outside the Kruger’s summer house (it’s an airbnb listing the rest of the year and they move back to another house closer to downtown).
And then we caught a sunset that reminded me of those we witnessed in Maui.
So thank you Christine, Sarah, Chrissy, Lori, Andrew, Brian and Mark — plus all the crew that made this magical evening happen.
We may have been a table of transplants — from Minnesota, Iowa, Scotland, California, Washington and Connecticut and beyond– but I think we all realize all lucky we are to have landed here.