The first time I was introduced to the idea of a “farm dinner” was through Gabriele Marewski’s “Dinners in Paradise” at her Paradise Farm in the Redlands near Homestead. Gabriele’s farm is designed using the principles of Leonardo Fibanacci’s sacred geometry, her food is “high-vibrating” and one of her first chef partners was James Beard award winner Michael Schwartz—so you can imagine the buzz. I never made it to one of those legendary farm dinners, but I came close this past weekend at the Pico de Garden Gala brunch in our neck of the woods at Swank Farm in Loxahatchee.
Jodi and Darrin Swank are celebrating a decade of growing fresh organic hydroponic produce (more than 260 varieties including leaf lettuces, specialty greens, baby and full-size vegetables, edible flowers, herbs, tomatoes and micro greens) and selling it to high-end chefs, local green markets and via their small CSA program. A year ago they started Swank Table, a field-to-table event that is packing people in and benefiting local charities.
Yesterday’s event out at the farm benefited the Milagro Center, and featured chefs Lindsay Autrey (Sundy House); Chris Miracolo (Max’s Harvest), Gordon Maybury (PGA National Resort) Sean McDonald (Hilton Fort Lauderdale) and pastry/dessert guru Darlene Moree (Parisorbet). After a welcome mojito of fresh berries near the tomato field, and four sparkling fresh appetizers under a tent near the shade houses, we proceeded to a large tent set with tables and vine basket centerpieces (and a Latin band) for a five-course brunch that was, in a word, brilliant. I mean, talk about high-vibrating food—almost all the dishes used greens and veggies from the farm—and everything else was locally sourced and expertly flavored and served. Swank vegetable salad with sorrel buttermilk dressing; garlic Blue Point oyster bruschetta; Swank Farm roasted beet salad, seared diver scallops dulce de leche with Anson Mills grits; grilled yogurt-marinated swordfish, grilled NY strip, Poire William Brandy sorbet. And I’m not even starting to list all the inspired ingredients that elevated those dishes, from fennel and lemon balm oil and harissa-stewed chickpeas and cress salad and on and on. Oy.
I am not a real foodie, but I know what’s good, what’s great—and what is truly a special experience—and this is one of them. I say sign up now—there are only three farm dinners left this season:
Hot Pink Lunch, February 10, benefiting the Breast Cancer Research Foundation
Wearin’ O The Green Salad, March 17, benefiting the Red Cross
Genuinely Swank, April 7, benefiting the James Beard Scholarship Foundation
Please contact swankspecialtyproduce.com to learn more—and check out the big-name chefs on tap!