Farm To Post At Post 390 With Ward's Berry Farm
The Farm to Post series at Post 390 offers guests a way to learn about the restaurant's purveyors through a dinner featuring ingredients from that purveyor. I recently attended a Farm to Post dinner showcasing the produce from Ward's Berry Farm, a family farm in Sharon, Massachusetts. My husband, Jeff, grew up in Sharon, so we've been to Ward's plenty of times. I have trouble staying away during strawberry and corn seasons! Already being a fan of Ward's and Post 390, I was excited to see what Post 390 chef Eric Brennan could do with Ward's fresh produce.
The evening started with a reception, where guests, including many who work at Ward's, gathered to sip cocktails and sample passed appetizers, as well as chat about the farm and the event. I ran into Molly at the reception and we settled in with catching up and sipping the signature cocktail for the evening. It was called a snowberry and featured apple bubbly, strawberry, rhubarb, and lemon. It was refreshing and sweet but not too sweet as it was balanced with the lemony acidity. It also had a gorgeous pinkish-red color to it.
Waiters came around offering white tasting spoons filled with arugula and ricotta gnudi with pancetta and a white clam sauce, as well as shucked oysters with pickled begonia granita and fresh petals. Both pre-dinner offerings gave a glimpse of how the restaurant was working Ward's produce into the dishes.
Soon we were asked to find seats in the event room, and owner Chris Himmel came in to introduce the dinner and show us a video of the collaboration between the farm and the restaurant. It was inspiring to see Brennan out in the fields right with the farmers.
When the video ended, we received pours of Riesling and were served a stunning green chilled asparagus soup with Jonah crabmeat salad and tempura asparagus, all topped with a little mustard sauce. Brennan came out and explained to us that the soup is made with just the asparagus peels rather than the whole spears. (It's a great example of how not to let the woody part of the asparagus go to waste.) The peels are sweated with shallot and shiitake, and the soup has a little creme fraiche as well. I loved that the soup was asparagus forward and that every part of the soup, including the crabmeat salad, which had little asparagus coins mixed in, was focused on the green vegetable.
While we were enjoying our soup, our waiter brought over a bread basket filled with the most buttery rolls. They had flakes of sea salt on top and tasted rich and indulgent. It was all I could do to keep myself to one. The rolls inspired conversation at our table about what a good thing butter is.
Our next course -- Pacific halibut with braised Bibb lettuce, radish, pea tendrils, spring onion, and lemon thyme -- was paired with a Sauvignon Blanc that was my favorite pour of the night. The fish was nicely seared and meaty, making it a good companion to the more delicate vegetables. A puree on the side added a hint of smokiness.
From the moment I glanced at the menu, I'd been most looking forward to our third course, which was Pekin duck with strawberry-ginger-poached rhubarb, a Ward's vegetable stir-fry, and a tatsoi potsticker under a sprinkling of slivered almonds. I found the strawberry-ginger-poached rhubarb an interesting and flavorful way to incorporate berry flavor in a dish where I wouldn't expect it. The duck was cooked perfectly with that awesome crispy skin duck is known for. The vegetables, especially the carrots, were so flavorful; you could tell they were fresh from the farm. This course was paired with a Tempranillo that I also enjoyed.
For dessert there was super-moist chocolate beet cake with cocoa whipped cream, strawberry and beet sauces, and cocoa nib earth. I wasn't expecting to be able to taste beet in the cake but its earthiness really powered through the chocolate. I enjoyed bites of the cake tempered with a little of the strawberry sauce between sips of tawny port.
And just when we thought dinner was over, Brennan came out with a crispy shell filled with popcorn ice cream topped with caramel corn, made from Ward's popcorn. This final creation provided us with some sweet, crispy, crunchy last bites.
I always love seeing farms and restaurants working together and learning and being aware of where my food is coming from. These Farm to Post dinners are a great example of both. What made the dinner incredibly special was not just sampling Ward's fresh produce but meeting and sharing dinner with Jim Ward and those from Ward's who work so hard to grow and harvest all that fresh produce.
Have you been to a dinner like this, where a farm and restaurant work so closely?
This dinner was complimentary. As always, all opinions are my own.
Labels: Restaurant reviews and events