Outdoor dining on the farm becomes elegant experience
Our Bethel farm where we raise beef cattle was transformed into a place for elegant outdoor dining last week when the energetic crew with Sunburst Supper Club served a “pasture dinner” in our back yard.
The supper club is organized by business savvy Katie Eason of Sunburst on Montgomery, along with her charming fiance, Clay Hughes. The idea comes from the Outstanding in the Field movement, often described as a roving culinary adventure. A long table is set up at a farm or garden where food is grown, and the meal ingredients include not only what’s produced there, but other local items, as well.
Previous dinners such as this have been held at Apple Hill Farms and Sunburst Trout. Tickets sold out quickly, Katie tells me, but sometimes those who put their name on the waiting list luck out and get a spot, as two visitors from Florida who read about the dinner online.
Guests were scheduled to arrive at 6 p.m., and Clay had obviously been cooking for quite a while before that as he arrived with pie plate after pie plate of squash casseroles, blackberry bread pudding with a bourbon sauce and fresh salad makings that paired bite-sized dried bread with heirloom cherry tomatoes and watermelon. Grits with corn kernels cooked on site, as well several other appetizers rounded out the sides.
Since the dinner was billed as the “Golden Calf, no vegetarians, please,” the main course was our beef. Clay made burger sliders for appetizers, complete with a special dressing that perfectly enhanced the hand-ground beef that started out as a whole sirloin tip roast.
The main beef course was a dish he dubbed “flirt” steak, kabobs made with both lap meat and skirt steak. The small pieces were marinated in a special mixture that not only tenderized the normally tough cuts, but made their flavor unforgettable.
Music by Blackberry Jam, a choice of light or dark beer compliments of Headwaters Brewing, a rainstorm that quickly blew over before guests arrived and plenty of good company made the evening perfect.
The best part was we didn’t have to lift a finger to put the meal on. Katie assurred us we were guests just as the others in the group of 46. We did lead a short tour down to the barn where guests carefully dodged piles that indicated cattle were present.
After dinner, many of the guests headed for the fence to watch Rich bring the remaining part of the herd that thundered toward the sound of the clanging metal gate.
Our herd bull, along with several others, love to get a back scratch, and the naturally curious animals flock around people in their midst simply to check them out.
The experience certainly accomplished what the founders of the movement must have envisioned — and what Katie and Clay are bringing to Haywood — helping consumers learn about food production.
The pasture dinners are just one of the many things that distinguish Haywood as a forward-thinking place to live.
It is great to be part of such a community, and it is even better to be part of the newspaper chronicling the events that make it special.