A special evening June 24, 2015, brought a community together with a true farm-to-table event in support of a very worthy cause.
The Setting the Table dinner was organized by Renee Campbell and in partnership with Edible Michiana co-publisher Victoria Brenneman. Together with hosts Rise Up Farms and Hope Builders, they created an evening of fun and locally produced food for 58 guests.
The evening also featured wine pairings by local wine enthusiast and Flavor 574 blogger Dr. Frank Piaskowy, who made selections from Chateau Aeronautique Winery in Jackson, Mich., (which uses only Michigan grapes). Entertainment was provided by The Dean’s List Nano (Danny Dean and Randy Horst).
Many in the area have probably never heard of The Center for Healing and Hope, but this organization provides urgent medical care and health care support at two clinics in Elkhart County. The Goshen location is in the Plymouth United Church of Christ on South Main Street, and the Elkhart location is in the Grace Lutheran Church on West Marion Street.
The mission of The Center is to deliver compassionate healthcare to those in the community who do not have a medical home. They not only offer urgent medical care, but also specialize in creating a pathway to better health for each patient by thoroughly assessing their respective needs.
Laura Horst, director of development and communications at The Center, said, “The great thing about the Center for Healing and Hope is that we are able to help people see a doctor for their immediate needs, but also assist them in finding a doctor for their future needs.” Besides Laura, The Center staff in attendance at the event included Executive Director Rebecca Gascho and clinic nurse Sharon Miller.
Setting the Table guests parked at the west end of the Rise Up Farms garden on S.R. 120 in Elkhart (East Jackson) and then wandered through the garden on their way to a grassy area where appetizers were served by the staff of Frister’s Rentals and Event Planning.
I was honored to coordinate the menu with Renee and my grandson, Eli Shaum (he’s been my sous chef for the last 5 years in such charity events). We tried to incorporate everything available from local providers.
For the appetizers, we served za’ater spiced bread dip with oils and 18-year-old balsamic vinegar from The Olive Branch, spices from The Spice Merchant in Winona Village and bread from Rachel’s Bread.
Rachel’s new cheese shop, The Wedge, also contributed rounds of Brie cheese gorgeously decorated by Renee. Then there was an old world radish dip with blue cheese crumble and chopped parsley garnish, pickled Culver Duck Farm duck eggs with grated chevre goat cheese and chervil garnish.
RELATED: Goshen cheese shop The Wedge opens Tuesday, June 22, 2015
The appetizer wine pairing selected by Frank was the 2012 Chateau Aeronautique dry riesling.
Guests were called to be seated at white tablecloth covered tables inside the farm’s beautiful red barn, complete with all the rustic beams and flooring. Centerpieces were beautifully prepared and placed on each table by Camille’s Floral Shop and consisted of edible flowers, fruits and vegetables.
The starter course for evening was Quack and Cheese. The dish consisted of four cheeses from Yoder’s Meat and Cheese in Shipshewana, ziti pasta from E & S Sales in Shipshewana, a selection of wild mushrooms from Maple City Market and Culver Duck Farm duck leg confit. All of these components were layered in baking dishes then topped with a creamy Parmesan sauce and bread crumbs.
After plating on Frister’s antique serving plates, Sarah Haser (Sarah is the chef at Bread and Chocolate in Goshen and was a tremendous resource in the kitchen) craftily garnished the top of each dish with a dollop of herb and duck egg coulis and a sprig of basil.
Frank’s wine of choice was the 2012 Chateau Aeronautique Pinot Noir.
Next up was a fresh musclen green salad mix amply supplied by Rise Up Farms coupled with colorful red and yellow tomatoes from Clay Bottom Farm and unbelievably tasty pea and popcorn shoots from Kruse Farm Supply and Garden Center.
- RELATED: Steve Kruse is turning his farm supply business into a green farm and market, April 20, 2015
If you know how hard it is to grow shoots, you really come to appreciate these delicacies. They were so crunchy and just full of flavor (they tasted just like peas and popcorn). These shoots really added a pleasant crunch to the mix.
Salads were dressed with vinaigrette made from The Olive Branch blood red orange olive oil and red apple balsamic vinegar.
Frank’s wine choice for the salad course was the 2012 Chateau Aeronautique Pinot Gris.
For the entree, we again wanted to put an emphasis on seasonal, local ingredients, but also add a component of exotic elegance. So, with an overwhelming response from Erica Cook of Cook’s Bison Ranch in Wolcottville, Ind., we were able to obtain bison back ribs, which made a nice large serving. Some of these back ribs were more than eight inches long.
Cooked low and slow in a beer, beef stock, rosemary, aromatics (carrot, onion, celery) and apricot jelly braising concoction, the ribs were perfect and required little additional seasoning. The braising stock was strained, mushrooms added and reduced by two thirds to create a rich jus, which was spooned over the rib.
Accompanying the rib was a simple mash of Rise Up Farm turnips pureed with a third of amount of russet potato, cream cheese, butter, a bit of half and half for thinning and salt and pepper.
Topping the mash was a trio of stir-fired peas (snap, shelled and pods) from Creekside Farm in Goshen.
Frank’s wine selection for the entree was the 2011 Chateau Aeronautique Arotrix Crimson (a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot). This choice paired particularly well with the bison back rib.
Lastly, dessert furnished by Bread and Chocolate consisted of beautifully decorated cheesecakes. Three different cakes were served: chocolate truffle, key lime and lemon raspberry. Frank served a Fruit Hills Winery blueberry wine with the dessert, and Ten Thousand Villages from Goshen contributed coffee throughout the evening.
Setting the Table was a wonderful experience in a rustic setting and for a great cause. Many photographs were taken throughout the evening by local photographer Gail Caviness.
My latest cookbook, “Farmers in Lake Country,” includes several of the recipes used for the dinner, as well as the history of many of the farms that contributed food.
When an entire community comes together, great things happen and a benevolent cause is rewarded for its fine work.