7 Outdoor Dinners You Can't Miss This Summer
All week long we're rolling out content from our Summer Guide 2014. In it you'll find all the best ways to enjoy the season in and around St. Louis. Click here to read the rest of the guide or pick it up in print at the red Riverfront Times box nearest you.
When a restaurant uses the term "farm to table," it typically means the chef utilized just-harvested, seasonal food from local farms or gardens. With the arrival of warmer temperatures and longer days, St. Louisans have the opportunity to actually cut out the middleman -- the restaurant -- and simply dine on the farm, usually outside in a glorious, natural setting. It's a great chance to reconnect with the source of our food and meet the farmers who grew it. Some of these dinners feature a "celebrity" chef brought in to artfully prepare a meal befitting the beautiful surroundings. There have been a handful of such events at various farms near St. Louis over the past few years, but only a lucky few diners have been able to secure a seat. This summer, they are popping up everywhere, with one taking place almost every weekend.
Greg Rannells Claverach Farm
Twenty miles outside of St. Louis, the 300-acre Claverach Farm (570 Lewis Road, Eureka; 636-938-7353) has been in operation for eighteen years, selling to local restaurants and at farmers' markets. Today Claverach shares its passion for producing delicious and artful food with the community in its refurbished 100-year-old barn with weekly "farm dinners." Four courses, drinks and hors d'oeuvres are served at long communal tables, with ample time for touring the property's gardens, orchards and vineyards. The chefs are Sam Hilmer and Joanna Duley, co-managers of the farm. Tickets are $65 and available at www.claverachfarm.com.
Rachel Shulman Claverach Farm
Feast in the Field
Sunday, June 8
The St. Louis chapter of the national Slow Food organization hosts its ninth annual fundraising event at Claverach Farm. Proceeds from the event will benefit Slow Food St. Louis' educational programming and Small Farm Micro Biodiversity Grant. Chef Cassy Vires of Home Wine Kitchen has assembled a wealth of culinary talent for the event, including chefs from Cleveland-Heath, Elaia & Olio, Five Bistro, Juniper, Milagro Modern Mexican, Pint Size Bakery, Pastaria and Strange Donuts. Wine will be provided by the Claverach Farm vineyard, beer by Perennial Artisan Ales and Schlafly Beer, and cocktails by Cocktails Are Go. Tickets are $140 and available at www.slowfoodstl.org.
Saturday, June 21
Taste and Tour
EarthDance Farms' (233 South Dade Avenue, Ferguson; 314-521-1006) apprentice farmer program provides instruction in organic food, farming and gardening. It also grows more than 75 varieties of produce for a local community-supported agriculture program and sells produce at two farmers' markets and to area chefs and grocers. This June, groups of ten to twenty are invited to tour the farm and sample farm-fresh fare, including a visit to the "Cocktail Coop." The event is free, and more information is available at www.earthdancefarms.org.
Saturday, June 28
Building the Bridge from Farm to Table
Amtrak will transport guests from St. Louis to Washington for a full day of activities. First up is a stroll through a farmers' market, boutique shops and art galleries, ending with a brewery tour complete with food and beer tastings from local producers. Next, a coach transports the group to Noboleis and Blumenhof wineries for wine tasting and food pairings. Then it's back to Washington for a tour of Todd Geisert Farm (4851 Old Missouri 100, Washington; 314-791-6942) and a multicourse pig-roast dinner overlooking the Missouri River. Dinner will be prepared by chefs Matt Bessler and Rob Uyemura. Tickets are $145 to $175 and available at www.missourirhinevalley.com.