I still remember a conversation I had with my sister when I was in college when she told me about this thing she heard on Oprah. The idea was to create a dream list with the things you’d really love to do in life, both big and small, and you would highlight or cross things off as you go. It’s similar to what people call a “bucket list,” I guess, although the focus is less on the “before you die” part and more on turning your dreams into reality.
I still remember sitting at the table in the dining nook of my studio apartment making my first one – I’ve made several since then, revising them as my goals and dreams in life change and grow. I always keep the lists, even if I’ve decided that the things on the list don’t really serve me anymore. On Tuesday, I was able to cross something off my most current bucket list and the experience couldn’t have been more magical.
Tuesday was one of those days when it started out cloudy and the sun broke through the clouds just in time for the drive over and the event. It was the kind of day when everyone else’s attitude around you seems to align with yours. I didn’t have to try to hang on to my good mood when confronted with someone else’s grumpiness. Contentedness was all around me. When I picked up Nicole for the ultimate of girly dates, my enthusiasm was matched by hers ten fold. I knew I couldn’t have chosen a more grateful and enthusiastic friend to join me.
Nicole’s the kind of friend who can appreciate my nerdiness when I do things like pull over to take a picture of the adorable clap board sign showing us the way. She totally gets me and was cheering me on to savor the moment as much I could.
She’s the kind of friend who knows me and my style so well, she slapped me on the butt and yelled, “Bunting!” when she saw the lovely mustard-colored fabric triangles that greeted us in the yard where we’d enjoy our first glass of wine and an appetizer of grilled fava beans.
My experience at Old Chaser Farm, which is co-farmed by chef Matt Dillon of Sitka and Spruce (you know how I feel about that!) and farm manager Pierre, was a contrast to my usual experience in the yard. This wasn’t a time to work or get things done, but rather an opportunity to stop, drink some delicious wine, take in the beautiful surroundings and totally enjoy myself. I got that feeling the moment my Toms hit the gravel driveway. I had arrived.
I arrived with my sassy red plate in tow – a tradition of Outstanding in the Field that dates back to 1999. Guests bring their own plates (or borrow one at the event), which contributes to the electic look of the striking long communal table that was situated in the middle of their orchard.
Before the meal began, Matt, the host farmer and co-chef of the evening (Emily Crawford Dann of the Corson Building also contributed to our amazing meal), gave us a tour of the farm. On top of the respect I already had for the quality of the food I’ve had at his restaurant, I was blown away by what an integral part Matt plays on the farm. In his opening remarks, he mentioned at one point having a small garden and some chickens and now he is working the land on this farm, evidence that a dream like mine really can come to fruition.
As they work to make more and more of the land on the farm productive, they focus on preservation, efficiency and preference. They grow what they like to eat and cook with and what they can put up via canning. That was evident in our meal as we were able to try a myriad of pickled goodies like pickled cherries, fiddlehead ferns and green tomatoes.
Every platter, which was served family style to be enjoyed by the people who surround you, was amazing. So many fresh and foraged vegetables mixed with the saltiness of preserved vegetables from seasons past.
So much delicious protein like whey braised goat and smoked dried pig. We even had salmon, which was wrapped in vine leaves and cook on cedar planks. Four delicious course with four amazing wines and I was beyond satisfied.
And then came dessert. TheÂ dessert was so unexpected and delicious – Matt and Emily’s play on milk and cookies â€“ sesame cookies, which were crumbly and delicious, served with a little glass of cherry leaf, hazelnut and honey “milk.” I don’t really know how to describe it except to say that it was sort of like when I make my own almond milk, as far as texture goes, but tasted like a glass of nutella.
Needless to say, Nicole and I floated home with full bellies and permagrins. I went to bed extremely happy, but not before I crossed “attend farm dinners” off my list.