A celebration of local food and wine presented by the Capital City Public Market
And here’s a story that Guy Hand wrote for the Idaho Statesman on the Harvest Dinner in 2008:
The traditional restaurant review reviews, well, restaurants. Yet to confine the search for good food to four walls is to miss one of the most exciting trends in food today: the profusion of outdoor, farm-to-table dinners that have sprouted up across the country like morels after wildfire.
An offshoot of the local food movement, these harvest-season dinners shorten the farm to table distance from the thousand-mile-plus-average of most commercially grown foodstuffs to something more intimate—and appetizing. Some dinners eliminate that distance altogether. Peaceful Belly Farm and Boise Urban Garden School (BUGS) set tables over the very ground where your meal grew. You may, for instance, find dessert hanging from the fruit tree that shades your head. Now that’s local.
The annual City Harvest Wine Dinners are set, not on farm dirt but the brickwork of the Grove Plaza in Downtown Boise. Still, the food and drink is locally grown and showcases the labors of twenty-some area farmers, ranchers, and winemakers—from Rice Family Farms in Meridian to Bitner Vineyard in Sunnyslope to Cloverleaf Creamery in Buhl. Accompanying the food and wine are live music, guest speakers, and auctions to support Boise’s farmer’s market and other local causes.
Last year’s City Harvest Dinner, as well as one at Peaceful Belly Farm that same fall, were two of the most memorable meals I’ve had in Boise ever, restaurant or otherwise. The food at both was superb, pressed firmly into memory by the subtle shift in emphasis from chef to less-celebrated farmer. At how many meals, after all, can a city boy learn about heirloom edamame, farm bill politics, and the stunning fact that 80% more woman farm today than two decades ago? There’s an agricultural revolution going on out there and these farm-to-table dinners give guests, at least for a night, frontline seats.
This City Harvest Dinner was as handsome as the last: a small sea of white-linen tables, wine glasses and cutlery glistening in the early evening sun, set under blue skies and a pair of circling peregrine falcons. It’s Boise at its tasteful best.
Prepared by local chefs, the meal ($100 for all six courses and dessert) started with a small chili rellano amuse bouche with a crunchy, cornmeal coating and creamy goat cheese interior (from Rollingstone Chevre in Parma). A smooth, flavorful sweet corn bisque followed, the pale yellow soup surrounding a single cornbread crouton.
Using the it-takes-a-village playbook, the garden salad included lettuce leaves, fennel tops, cucumber spears, translucent pear slices, and grape-sized tomatoes—from at least five different area farms. The vinaigrette’s tartness didn’t fight my favorite local wine of the moment, Cinder’s 2007 Viognier, a white with the crisp minerality of a high mountain stream.
The haricot verts, tomato tartare, and chive oil was the most inventive course of the evening. Chef Aaron Wermerskirchen of Bittercreek and Red Feather restaurants, piled crisp French green beans over a densely flavorful salsa and surrounded that with a bright green chive infused oil. He coated the beans in a frothy cream that looked like winter frost. It melded and mellowed those ultra-fresh flavors.
Farm-to-table dinners are cropping up from California to Connecticut, in sea caves, corn fields, mountain meadows, and nearly anywhere else food is grown. The local food movement, which these events support, has the potential to improve the way America eats. And therein lies the most appetizing aspect of all.
Food & farming events are put on by a wide array of organizations and individuals throughout the Northwest.