Two years ago I had the great privilege of attending the inaugural Farm to Post dinner at Post 390 (read about there here). Owner Chris Himmel and Chef Eric Brennan are sincerely committed to supporting local and created this dinner series to celebrate the best products from their favorite partners.
Last night I attended the first Farm to Post dinner of this season. Each dinner in the series spotlights one vendor and this time it was Ward's Berry Farm in Sharon, MA.
When I arrived to the restaurant, the area outside the private room had six banners hanging, all in celebration of the Farm to Post dinner.
Guests were mingling outside the room while being served arugula and ricotta gnudi (like a naked ravioli) and shucked oysters. There was also a signature cocktail called the Snowberry which was neige, apple bubbly, strawberry, rhubarb and lemon. Even the cocktails make use of the Ward's Berry Farm goodies!
One of the things I remembered most vividly from the first Farm to Post dinner was the stunning flower arrangements by Leonhards Flower Shop in Beverly, MA. I was wondering if those gorgeous centerpieces would return and sure enough, they did!
Each centerpiece had fruit or vegetables worked into the arrangement. Ours used bright red apples, but the table next to us had strawberries in the center, one table had blueberries in the center and two tables had full artichokes poking up from their flowers.
When it was time to begin, we took our seats where each place setting had the evening's menu. I love that over the past two years they've developed a logo just for this dinner series.
Before we dug into the first course, Chris welcomed everyone and showed a video from the team's recent trips to Ward's Berry Farm. The video was set to some very sultry music. Who knew vegetables could be so sexy?
For the first dish we all enjoyed a chilled asparagus soup topped with tempura asparagus.
It always feels counter-intuitive to me to eat cold soup. My reflex is to blow on it. Despite my behavioral confusion, the soup was tasty and refreshing. I love the addition of the tempura asparagus spears. One interesting fact, Chef Eric told us the soup was made from only the asparagus peels!
Just as we were getting to the bottom of our soup bowls, our very attentive waiter, Keith, offered us a basket of buns. Each bun was rich with butter and sprinkled with course salt. Our table invented a new hashtag after eating these, #Buns4Life.
The next course was a poached halibut with braised bibb lettuce, radish, snow peas, spring onions and lemon thyme. Since I don't eat fish, my plate was the accompaniments, sans the fish.
The radishes were absolutely delicious and I loved the braised bibb lettuce leaves. I love braised and grilled greens. I've always want to grill a whole head of romaine lettuce for a Caesar salad.
The entree course for the meat eaters was duck with strawberry-ginger poached rhubarb, slivered almonds, vegetable stir fry and a potsticker. I got the veggies, without the duck or the potsticker. Instead a had one spinach ravioli pillow.
For me, the best part of that dish was the zucchini. It was beautiful shades of green and very sweet.
Coming into the dinner knowing that Ward's Berry Farm was the featured produce, I was expecting a dessert with strawberries. I just assumed that was a given. It turns out, the dessert of the night was a chocolate beet cake with cocoa whipped cream, strawberry and beet sauces and chocolate cocoa nib earth (a fancy way of saying cookie crumbles).
I was so torn about this dessert because I love chocolate, but I absolutely hate beets. I took my first bite hoping I wouldn't taste the beet flavor at all, but it was quite strong. It had a very earthy taste to it. It was made subtler when dipped into the strawberry sauce, but that still wasn't enough to sway me. No matter my preference, the presentation of the dish was perfection.
Just when I thought we'd had the last course, Chef Eric surprised us with one more item - popcorn ice cream! The scoop of ice cream was sitting in a paper thin, sweet shell and was topped with caramel popcorn. It was like a frozen carnival treat.
After appetizers, five plated courses and wine pairings with each course, we were in a total food coma! I had a fantastic table: Eric from Thrillist, Eric from Urban Daddy and Megan from Delicious Dishings, and we were the last people to get up. We were positively stuffed!
Before heading home, Chris insisted we each take one of the centerpieces. I wound up with this beautiful arrangement of sunflowers, yellow roses and blueberries.
I am so in love with the Post 390 Farm to Post tradition. Chris and Chef Eric really bring a new meaning to supporting local. They know where every single item served on one of their plates is sourced from. They don't just know which farm it came from, they know the farmer's name, his/her spouse's name, what time they wake up in the morning to start working, how many staff members they have and exactly which weeks of the year they will have certain products. They really do their homework and they go out of their way to partner with the best folks.
A big thank you to the whole Post 390 team and the team from Ward's Berry Farm for an exceptional evening.
Visit Post 390 at 406 Stuart Street, Boston, MA 02116.