Saturday, November 01, 2008

Rural Projects Supperclub

Saturday 9/27/08 was the night of the Rural Projects Supperclub. Rural Projects is run by some dear friends of mine who are lucky to live in the beautiful and bountiful Columbia County, NY. Spending several days up there, I tried to hunt down as many immediately local ingredients as I could, in order to cook a dinner for twenty people. Though it was the end of the season, I found nearly everything I wanted- ( what, no local star anise?) at small farms, a co-op, and neighbors' houses.

There is an index I found of all the farms in every county in New York, with a handy description of their specialties and what-not. Over coffee in the tiny-hip town of Hudson, we plotted out where the organic farms were, and an efficient path to reach them. Though everything was found nearby, it still meant a fair amount of driving around in order to produce this dinner, but the trees were turning, so it was hard to feel bad about. Using the excellent advice of the Dear Friends, the farm list, and the help of an enthusiastic and patient co-navigator, the items were gathered, checked off and hauled in to meet their fate.

These sheep produced the yogurt and Roquefort.

One of several darling diners.

I used polenta made by Wild Hive Farm in Clinton Corners, which was technically out of my region, but jeez- how wonderful. I also found a vodka called Core (made from apples), that is produced in the county, but I had already started infusing my own, darnit. I got a chance to taste the Core and it was fabulous and smooth with an appley breath, and comes in a classy bottle. I will remember it for the future, upstate or not.

We were lucky to visit the homestead of some pals of my Dear Friends who grow almost all their own food. I was blown away to be in their beautiful house and garden, and be able to use a bit of their yield (eggs, squash, onions, 5 kinds of basil, tomatoes, carrots, and leeks-or rather, the largest single leek I've ever seen).

The most idyllic kitchen window.

Brown, blue, and green eggs, all laid by different hens.

A peek into their remarkable pantry!

After all the traipsing and collecting, there was cooking. Two friends of mine came down to help and were stellar, and there were plenty of helpers, logistical engineers, ambiance coordinators, and finally eaters, all interesting and talented and fun.

The evening began outside, with cocktail hour held underneath a sculpture by the first Rural Projects artist-in-residence. The piece is called Rt. 11 by Martine Kaczynski, 2007, and resembles an abandoned gas station canopy. Read more here.

My tribute to the location.

Rural Projects Supperclub Menu

"Rural Rose": Pluot Puree, Pernod, Cava
"Columbia Cocktail": Honeycrisp Apple infused Vodka, Rosemary Syrup, Soda
Hors d'oeuvre
Green Chile Mini-Tamales
Roquefort Walnut Shortbread with Sheep Yogurt and Apple Onion Pickle
Butternut Squash and Apple with Bacon and Walnuts
Spicy Greens with Shredded Beet, Fennel and Purple Basil
Moroccan Spiced Chicken, Smoky Eggplant Puree with Yogurt, Crispy Polenta, Roasted Tomato
Corn Ice Cream with Sexy Star Anise Whiskey Sauce