If you have never been to a Farm Table dinner at Green Dirt Farm in Weston, MO, mark your calendar now to get in on the 2014 offerings. Tickets typically go on sale on Earth Day in April and the entire series is sold out within minutes.
After a drive of 40 minutes (from downtown), we arrived at the farm to see Ted and crew cooking at the outdoor kitchen, and other guests milling around sipping the evening’s special cocktail. Prosecco was the main ingredient, with bitters, crystallized ginger and ginger simple syrup added to form a very refreshing drink. Before sitting down to the table, we enjoyed crostinis with Green Dirt Farm’s Bossa cheese and gooseberry jam, lamb tartar, and radish and butter toasts. I hesitated before sampling the lamb tartar, but I was glad I gave it a try. Had my eyes been closed I would have thought it was tuna tossed with a spicy mayo.
Though it was a cool, blustery evening, the barn was cozy with the windows buttoned up and heaters ablaze. Thirty lucky souls sat down to dinner at a long table that stretched the length of the room. Everyone introduced themselves to their immediate neighbors and the evening was underway.
Co-owner and farm manager of GDF, Jacqueline Smith, started off by giving us a bit of history about the farm and an overview of its operations. And as each course was presented, Ted discussed how he created the dish, where the ingredients were sourced, and why he chose the particular wine pairing.
The first course was a salad consisting of wild greens, Green Dirt Farm Prairie Tomme cheese, lamb pancetta, a very soft-boiled egg and mustard vinaigrette. The pancetta was equal parts crisp and chewy, the yolk from the farm egg added a layer of complexity to the salad, and the Muscadet from France was the perfect complement. When I tasted the wine on its own, I didn’t care for it, but with the salad it was lovely. To me that meant the pairing was perfect. While I often just drink one wine throughout a meal, this “demonstration” reinforced the notion that there is something to be said for drinking certain wines with certain dishes.
The second course was a revelation. Ted had put GDF fresh cheese in a cold smoker before stuffing it in homemade ravioli, creating a taste I’ve never before experienced. The pasta was topped with chopped fresh spring vegetables, including asparagus, morel mushrooms and spring onions. Wow.
The entrée featured GDF’s own lamb. Ted prepared it by stuffing it with capers and spinach, and then wood-smoking and grilling it. Thick slices were set atop local, creamy polenta and sautéed spinach and roasted turnips. It was the perfect chilly spring meal, especially when paired with a Four Mile Creek red blend from Novy in California.
Dessert was deceptive. What looked like a very tasty but traditional springtime dish of strawberry and rhubarb crisp became something magical when topped with ice cream that had been made with GDF Bossa cheese. I love a rose anytime, but I particularly enjoyed it that evening with the sweet treat. All in all, a perfect ending to a fun and delightful evening.
One of the things I love about this concept is that as the series of 13 evenings moves from spring into summer and then winds down during the fall, the mood and character of each dinner changes dramatically. Not only do the dinners vary depending on what’s freshest at the market, but since each of them features a different local chef, the dinners are limited only by their imagination. And this is what Kansas City chefs live for… to have carte blanche to use their creativity to treat diners to a “wow” experience.