We didn’t eat Colin, but we did eat Thumper at the Farm to Fork dinner at Wealth Underground farm in Portland on July 16, 2011. The farm was the set for scene in the series “Portlandia” as eco-conscious diners decided to visit the farm where their chicken dinner (Colin) was raised. True to life, pastured chickens were roaming and clucking happily. The rabbits in their warrens looked a bit less happy, perhaps because some of their mates were the main entree of the evening.
The evening began as the 100+ diners assembled at Skyline Elementary School to be taken by van to the nearby farm, set at the northern edge of Portland’s Forest Park. The land is owned by the city of Portland and leased to the farmers. Farmers Nolan and Chris carved the CSA farm out of meadows. They told of their Elk Watch adventures in protecting their hand-tilled fields from browsing wildlife. They use organic and humane methods to raise fruit, vegetables, flowers, chickens, rabbits, and milk goats.
The diners first enjoyed a glass of Teutonic Wine Company pinot noir rose and appetizers while listening to live band Greenish Grey. Then we were given a farm tour speaking about the 100 year-old blueberry bushes, the new adorable goats (AlGore goats according to their pun), the Farm School, the Elk Watch adventures, and finally ascending up the rough patch to a meadow above the farm.
There, tents were set up with long tables set with china. Chef David Padberg of Park Kitchen prepared a meal featuring produce from the farm and other local producers. Each diner had tickets for three half glasses wine, but could purchase more. The diners ran the gamut of ages, and included many of the farmers and producers who were featured for the evening and at upcoming Farm to Fork dinners. Most were dressed appropriately casually for a farm visit. Sturdy footwear was definitely required. For outdoor eating, it’s best to dress in layers and be prepared for any weather.
The small plate course featured broccoli, radish, summer squach and sesame hummus, with flatbreads grilled on a Teutonic schwenker grill. The second course witha a salad nicoise with albacore, green beans, cherry tomatoes, olives, fingerling potatoes and eggs. The main course was Rainshadow El Rancho rabbit with peas, quinoa and carrots. The finale included Nobel Coffee and a summer berry brioche pudding.
The courses were widely spaced, allowing time to enjoy the company at the table as well as short presentations by the farmers, chef, and Portland Mayor Sam Adams (who himself had a bit-part on Portlandia as the mayor’s aide, a role played in real-life for many years).
Gratuities for the evening went to Fresh Exchange, which matches SNAP food stamp dollars at farmers markets, allowing low income people to buy fresh local produce.
Farm to Fork events are held state-wide in Oregon. They are designed to reconnect diners to the source of their food. They bring together local farmers, producers, winemakers, chefs and food artisans.Upcoming Portland area events still have tickets available:
- August 13th – Dancing Roots Farm in Troutdale
- August 20th – Square Peg Farm in Forest Grove.
- September 17th – Gaining Ground Farm in Yamhill.