Spring Tonic – something we all need to renew our bodies and spirits. After a gorgeous day in Atlanta on Saturday, Sunday’s forecast had a chance of rain. But with the Spring Tonic Dinner (which was also a fund-raiser) planned at Isia (my daughter) and her husband Chris’s Crack In The Sidewalk Farmlet, we just knew that Mother Nature would cooperate and the rain would hold off until afterwards. This was to be a true “dinner at the farm” with a long table beautifully set as well as picnic blankets for others. And then, during setup, it started to rain – just a light sprinkle at first – next a true downpour. But farmers are ever resourceful and help came in the form of EZ-Up tents from lots of fellow friends and farmers. When we arrived it was raining but the tents were up and the tables were beautifully set with blue-checked tablecloths, china and silverware, cloth napkins, wine glasses, and beautiful centerpieces of candles in jars wrapped with pretty purple wisteria. On each table was a jar of pickled dandelion roots made by Isia. I have to say I wasn’t sure about that one but tonight was an evening of tasting many new things, and much to my surprise, pickled dandelion roots taste a lot like Greek kalamata olives! Actually, when I think about it – just about everything I tasted tonight was a new experience.
Now let me just say, once again I forgot to take my camera. And forgot that I had a phone that would take pictures until we were on the last course. So I only have a couple of pictures and will have to let you imagine the rest. Everything was out of this world delicious and so beautifully presented. The chef was Ryan Smith and his food is just amazing. Mr. Whimsey and I are planning on going to his restaurant in Atlanta on our 30th anniversary in October. The mixologist was Kellie Thorn and she concocted two different drinks that were so unique and good. As well, we had a different wine presented with each course. Kellie’s four year old son was there and was our entertainment for the evening. He was just adorable! Isia and Chris grew or foraged the vegetables and herbs used in the different dishes.
So here we go. The first mixed drink was a homemade vermouth made of mountain mint, holy basil, ale hoof, curry plant (Helichrysum), lemon balm, chamomile, and wormwood made into a tincture in white wine. That was served over ice with lemon and tonic water. It was so refreshing. Then the first course came out – all the courses except dessert were presented on wood planks and the table shared the food – six at each table. We had wild mussels with spring onions and leeks, wood sorrel, chickweed, tansy mustard, onion juices, and a whipped mussel juice (which looked like foam and tasted really great).
The second course was a wild duck terrine (amazing – I could have eaten more than one slice!) with sassafras glaze, curry plant, pickled duck egg, morels, violet leaves, preserved pine buds, nettles, and turnips. Oh my gosh – this was my favorite course I think. The duck terrine was not only wonderful but beautiful too. The duck eggs were poached and then pickled, then cut so the yolks showed and the outside of the egg was a bright yellow. The turnips were tiny and so good. I’m drooling right now just thinking about this course and so wish I had gotten a picture of it.
Then came the second special drink made with pine, herbs, and gin. I’m not a gin drinker so I didn’t taste it but everyone was raving about how good it was. Third course was a venison sausage that had been boiled and then grilled and sliced with fermented carrots, pickled radish, oak roasted ramps, malted rye, spring herbs and flowers, and then an acorn miso pate and a mulberry pate.
Oh I’m not done yet. After all that came dessert – a lemon ice cream with a lavender and lemon shortbread cookie.
Katie Hayes, who is the Director of the non-profit organization called Community Farmers Markets and the Manager of the East Atlanta Village Farmers Market coordinated the dinner with the help of many volunteers. All of the volunteers who served at the dinner, going back and forth in the rain and getting very wet were fantastic. I’m already looking forward to next year’s dinner – it was just so much fun!