Dining with the cows.

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Going to a Plate & Pitchfork dinner has been on my wish list for quite a while – but I’ve always been a bit of a slacker when it comes to actually buying the tickets (they sell out so darn fast!).

This year, I set myself a reminder and actually nabbed tickets to the 8/22 dinner at Ford Farms, a Highland Cattle ranch on Sauvie Island.

The chefs for the evening were Scott Dolich from Park Kitchen and Adam Sappington from The Country Cat Dinner House.  David Briggs, of Xocolatl de David, orchestrated dessert and the folks at J.K. Carriere orovided wine. All produce was supplied by Sauvie Island Organics.

Upon arriving at Ford Farms, we were directed to a small field (just adjacent to the livestock) where two small tables were set up with appetizers and drinks.  I’d estimate probably 125 – 150 were in attendance, so lines quickly backed up with those waiting to get food and drinks.  Appetizers were platters of Country Cat Beef Jerky and Garlic Crostini with Feta and Cucumbers.   The signature drink of the night was a Ford Farms Cyderworks Cocktail (a sugar cube soaked in Peach Bitters, topped with Cyderworks Hard Sparkling Cider and Bourbon – quite tasty).

Our dining companions.

 Kristin Ford gave a quick talk on the cattle – how they are raised, what they are fed, how they sell the beef. Due to the size of the crowd, it would have been great to provide her with a small mic / amp – as it was hard for all to hear. We took a quick walk through the pasture and headed to the apple orchard, where dinner was held.  Rich Ford educated guests on the Farm’s other project, Cyderworks.  

There was definitely a diverse crowd in attendance – I’d say about half of those in attendance were people who were truly were interested in the process and the artistry behind it; the other half is proof that farm dining is a definite trend right now and the “hip” thing to do (stiletto sandals in a cow field – come on!).

There were long rows of tables in the middle of the orchard.  Our menu was as follows:

Dinner

Marinated Sardines / Anchovies with Patty Pan Squash and Parsley
J.K. Carriere 2008 “Glass” White Pinot Noir

Mesquite Grilled BBQ Beef Skewers
Chopped Vegetable and Crab Salad with Creamy Walla Walla Onion Vinaigrette
J.K. Carriere 2007 Provocateur Pinot Noir

Chilled Beet Soup with Marinated Beef Hearts
J.K. Carriere 2006 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

Baked Shoulder of Ford Farms Highland Beef in Sauvie Island Hay
Roasted Bintje Potato and Baby Cabbage Salad with Basil Pesto
J.K. Carriere 2006 Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir

Dessert

Chocolate Bone Marrow Panna Cotta with Ford Farms Fruit
Portland Roasting Coffee

The dinner menu was a mystery up until night of. Plate & Pitchfork had let all guests know that vegetarians would not be accommodated, so one could easily guess that the dinner would be beef-centric.

Overall, I would have to say that I was underwhelmed. The starter salad had gorgeous heirloom tomatoes, which were definitely more popular than the anchovies and sardines they were served with (everything was served family style and the only thing left on the plate were the fish – everyone picked out the tomatoes and squash first!).

The beef skewers came out with a platter of crawdads and were accompanied by the crab salad. Again, it was good but not great.

The beet soup was gorgeous (what a vibrant magenta), but tasted more strongly of the beef hearts it was served with than the beets.

The biggest disappoinment of the evening? The dessert. Having been a fan of Brigg’s chocolates for quite some time, I was excited to see what he’d come up with. The chocolate bone marrow panna cotta was served in juice glasses, and topped with a layer of watermelon juice and chopped apples. I don’t think anyone at our table took more than a bite or two. I can’t exactly pinpoint what wasn’t good about it – perhaps it was the combination of flavors, maybe it was the marrow.

While I’m a huge fan of supporting the causes that the Plate & Pitchfork dinner benefits, I’d have to say that this is my first and only dinner.  Considering the cost ($125 per person), there are a lot of other restaurants I’d head to first.

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2 Responses to “Dining with the cows.”

  1. campblsoupgrl Says:

    That’s sad to hear that the meal was kind of a letdown. I think waiting until the day of event to let everyone know the menu is a bad idea although I understand that they wanted to add a level of mystery and exclusiveness. But what about people with allergies? I can understand why they would say there won’t be anything geared towards vegetarians considering it’s on a cattle ranch, but there are others that can’t help having to be a little picky about what they eat. I would want to go with my husband but he is deathly allergic to seafood and there is no way I would ever go without seeing the menu in advance.

    • katetuomimonster Says:

      They *could* accomodate people with allergies (they sent out a mail a week prior requesting you let them know in advance).

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