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Slow Food St. Louis Feast in the Field ‘11 - Every Little Thing

Slow Food St. Louis Feast in the Field ‘11

Hope your Monday was great! I have great stories about Indianapolis to share but I wanted to first blog about the event of the weekend: Slow Food St. Louis Feast in the Field at Claverach Farm in Eureka, Missouri.

This event was by far the best food I’ve ever tasted, by the most talented chefs in St. Louis, with the most heartfelt, genuine group of people in the local food community. The entire meal came from local farms and was centered around the variety of vegetables currently in season.

All proceeds from the event will go to help area farms, and to keep St. Louis food where it belongs – in St. Louis!

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We arrived at Claverach and immediately saw the repurposed barn. It was absolutely beautiful – the site and smell of wood that makes you think of a campfire on a warm Summer night.

And warm it was – somewhere in the 80’s, but the humidity. You know where I’m going with this. Everyone attendee was a hot, sweaty mess but that’s the thing…we all were hot sweaty messes, so it didn’t matter!

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Before dinner started, we grabbed a few cold drinks, including:

I have to say, 2nd Shift’s Unicorn Killer was the winner of the evening. It was absolutely perfect for the muggy air!

With drinks in hand, we took a quick tour of the farm.

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Claverach grows a variety of produce, and even grapes for their vineyard. Farmer Sam Hilmer described this area of the country as being difficult to grow just about everything, but said he enjoys the experimentation and believes that if you take up space growing something, it should be functional (meaning you should be able to eat it!). The small area of farm we saw was beautiful.

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After the tour, we refilled our drinks and found our seats. The menu had been released late last week, but having the real thing in front of me made my stomach rumble – we were about to devour some amazing local food!

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All during dinner, there was plenty of bread available, made by Christy Augustin of Le Cordon Bleu. The roasted Claverach beet brioche you see there on the table? Incredible.

I’m ready to eat!   

(Please forgive my amateur description of each dish. I don’t feel qualified to review each course, so please consider this just a description of dinner from my point of view.)

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Hors d’oeuvres:

John Perkins (Entre Underground); Carl McConnell (Stone Soup Cottage); Josh Galliano (Monarch)

Fried squash blossoms stuffed with smoked duck confit and served with a savory sabayon and pickled beet terrine.

In the center?

Langoustine Banh Mi

I’m still dreaming of that squash blossom.
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First Course:

Cary McDowell (Winslow’s Home)

Winslow’s Jar of Peas

I wish I could describe this to you. I wasn’t taking notes, I just wanted to taste the darn thing! The peas were fantastic, the perfect puree; the bottom portion was a thick, jello-like cream that balanced the peas perfectly.

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Second Course:

Adam Altnether (Taste by Niche); Jamey Tochtrop (Stellina)

Local spring vegetable ragout with prosciutto consommé and Goatsbeard Farm fresh goat cheese.

The consommé are those yolk-like orbs in the front of the dish. Stab them with your fork and a clear prosciutto soup rushes over the vegetables and provides an amazing contrast.

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Before each course, the chef(s) spoke a bit about their dish. This is when I should have taken notes. However, I was too busy drooling.

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Third Course:

Chuck Friedhoff (Persimmon Woods Golf Club); Tim Grandinetti (Overlook Farm)

Applewood smoked mangalitsa pork belly, corn bread, and bacon jam with Overlook Farm radish and vegetable slaw

Such a succulent piece of meat – the perfect serving size. The cornbread and bacon jam melded with the pork and the radish slaw bounced off the flavor of the trio. The perfect third course.

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Fourth Course:

Chris Bolyard (Sidney Street Cafe); Rob Uyemura (Yia Yia’s Euro Bistro)

Chicken liver mousse potsticker, carrot, tomato & picked radish pod, and crispy giblets

Ever had crispy giblets? You should.

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Fifth Course:

Anthony Devoti (Five Bistro); Clara Moore (Local Harvest Cafe)

Claverach Farm and Vineyard white wine and garlic braised rabbit saddle and rabbit rillete stuffed grape leaves, with pickled carrot and shallot salad.

The braised rabbit saddle was probably my favorite part of the meal. I loved the garlic and shallots with it and the rabbit was incredible.

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There was a lot of wine. In addition to the provided beer and wine, BYOB was encouraged as this was a special occasion and many feast-goers had wines they felt would fit the meal.

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At this point, I was full. However, I never really felt overly-stuffed, and of course could find room for dessert.

Dessert:

Steven Caravelli (Chef at Large); Jimmy Fiala & Matt Abeshouse (The Crossing)

Beet, Chocolate, Black Raspberry

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Holy dessert. This was heaven on a plate. The perfect summer confection. And those meringue dollops? Perfectly complimentary.

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Petit Fours:

Nick Miller (Harvest); Sally Sciaroni (Onesto)

Carrot cake with Baetje Farms goat cheese icing.

One bite, two bites, gone.

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There was nothing about this night that wasn’t absolutely incredible, from the hard-working chefs to the volunteers that helped organize and design, to the farm that allowed the use of their beautiful space, to the generosity of each and every attendee, who so obviously care about where their food comes from.

Thanks to everyone that made Sunday what it was – if you haven’t tasted your local food, you truly don’t know what you’re missing.
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If you’d like to learn more about Slow Food St. Louis, check out their website and consider joining your local chapter. And the next time you go out to eat in St. Louis, please consider one of the above restaurants – you won’t be disappointed!

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