This, folks, was my dinner table Sunday night. I was lucky beyond words to have won two tickets from Edible Upcountry Magazine to attend the annual Chattooga Belle Farms Farm-to-Table dinner. (I’m about to shower you with pictures.) I took my friend Nina, who also had entered the contest. We drove and drove…and drove, until we pulled into the gravel drive of this beautiful farm out in Long Creek, South Carolina. I’ve seen pictures of Farm-To-Table dinners in several magazines, but nothing could prepare us for the beauty of a long white, elegant table set to the backdrop of vineyards, orchards and the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountainscape. Armed with cameras, off we went.
The first part of the evening was a Wine and Moonshine Reception. Several Georgia wineries including Harbersham Vineyards, Tiger Mountain Vineyards, and Stonewall Creek Vineyards were set up for tastings. Palmetto Moonshine was sampling apple, peach, blackberry and their signature shine (we swung through a few times) and Chattooga Belle Farm was pouring their own wine made from grapes sourced right there on the property. I had no idea there were so many local wineries. (I see a 5 under $15 post coming!)
Musician, Dawn Jackson provided tunes and nibbles circulated the crowd as we made our way from table to table sipping. We munched on Fennel Sausage Crostini, Field Pea Hummus with Onion Marmalade on Lavash (flat bread), little phyllo cups of Clemson Blue Cheese topped with fig and honey, and little squares of cornbread topped with Jalapeno Pimento Cheese.
One of the fantastic parts of the evening was the farm tour. A simple, easy walk around the grounds with owner Ed Land, where we were introduced to some of the produce grown on the farm: apples, peaches, grapes (including my favorite, Scuppernongs), figs, persimmons, paw paw fruit, and raspberries. Chattooga Belle Farm includes 138 acres with 8 acres of fruit, 35 acres of cattle and 70 acres used for hay. The farm is a u-pick and also supplies produce to local restaurants. The beauty of the farm also makes it a popular spot for weddings.
Dinner is served. For this year’s dinner five local chefs, four of whom have been named 2013 Best Chefs of America, were invited to create a menu using items grown and produced within 100 miles of the farm. Chefs included Jamie Allred of Lake Rabun Hotel, Dave and Gayle Darugh of Beechwood Inn, Jenny Wilson of Fromage and Mark Winters of the Lighthouse at Lake Keowee.
We started off with an Apple and Butternut Squash Bisque with Fried Carrots and a basket of sliced Sourdough bread from Gayle Darugh’s kitchen at Beachwood Inn in Clayton, GA. We slathered it with farm fresh butter, and I located the salt. Bread. Butter. Salt. Perfection.
Then our main course was brought out. By this time, the sun was setting and the sky was dimming so pictures were getting problematic, but the food was heavenly.
We were served Herb Roasted, melt in your mouth Grass Fed Beef Tenderloin with Braised Kale and Roasted Autumn Veggies with Garlic Sauce. We sopped up the juices with bread and savored every last bite. People from the vineyards represented walked around the table during the dinner filling our glasses with Cabernet Sauvignon (Beachwood Inn), Cab Franc and Viognier (Tiger Mountain Vineyards) and Malbec, Seyval Blanc, and Cab Franc (Stonewall Creek Vineyards).
Dessert was a warm, still slightly crisp half of an apple with a crunchy topping and vanilla bean whipped cream. By this time our table was only lit by candles. You could barely make out the mountain against the dark sky. People started dispersing and we honestly hated to go.
What an amazing evening. Thank you to Ed and Kitty Land for opening up their farm to so many guests, and thank you to Edible Upcountry. I am happy to go on your behalf again next year.
For more pics from my lovely evening, click this link.