When I bought tickets to the Cherry Grove Farm’s Dishing Up New Jersey farm to table dinner, the forecast was calling for a beautiful night. 24 hours later, we were driving in torrential downpour down River Road! What a surprise, Mother Nature likes to keep us on our toes. But it didn’t stop this amazing group of people from putting on a terrific event.
Beer & Cheese Tasting
When we arrived, we hurried into the farm market store where everyone was gathered for a beer and cheese tasting. I have always been a huge fan of Cherry Grove’s cheese, but this was the first time I got to learn more about their story. This summer marks their ten years making aged farmstead cheeses. Cherry Grove is one of only three farmstead creameries in the entire state of New Jersey.
In order for a cheese to be classified as “farmstead” (as defined by the American Cheese Society) the cheese must be made with milk from the farmer’s own herd, or flock, on the farm where the animals are raised. And if you’re wondering what it means when cheese is “artisanal”, that just means a cheese is produced primarily by hand, in small batches, with particular attention paid to the tradition of the cheesemaker’s art.
Try it at home: Couch Surfer Oatmeal Stout paired with Cherry Grove Toma
After our tasting the rain magically disappeared, just in time to sit down outside for our 4-course meal. But first, we spent some time saying hello to the sweet calves nearby. They were pretty happy the rain stopped as well!
Farm to Table Dinner
On the menu was delicious crudité by Z Food Farm with homemade lentil spread, hummus and sea vegetable spread by Muirhead Foods, and dinner of grilled vegetables, beet salad, (whey fed) pork chops prepared by 12 Farms Restaurant. To end, homemade gluten-free pies topped with Bent Spoon ice cream.
At dinner I had the pleasure of sitting next to Marilyn Besner of Wildflour Bakery and Café, where she turned me into a gluten-free believer! Her bread, cheese puffs and pie, each one more delicious than the last, were so good I almost didn’t believe her that they were all gluten free. If all gluten-free foods were this good, I would have no problem cutting it from my diet. Thankfully, I’m just a quick 10-minute drive from her bakery in Lawrenceville, NJ.
The highlight of my night was getting to hear how passionate all of the foodsmiths are about bringing better food to our community. It’s easy for all of us to get caught up in the daily grind, and these events really help us reflect on what’s important when it comes to food & farming. If everyone can do a little more to focus on more sustainable, organic and humane farming or eating, then the benefits are more than I can count.