7 Outdoor Dinners You Can't Miss This Summer

by

JEREMY DEWEESE
  • Jeremy DeWeese

All week long we're rolling out content from our Summer Guide 2014. In it you'll find all the best ways to enjoy the season in and around St. Louis. Click here to read the rest of the guide or pick it up in print at the red Riverfront Times box nearest you.

When a restaurant uses the term "farm to table," it typically means the chef utilized just-harvested, seasonal food from local farms or gardens. With the arrival of warmer temperatures and longer days, St. Louisans have the opportunity to actually cut out the middleman -- the restaurant -- and simply dine on the farm, usually outside in a glorious, natural setting. It's a great chance to reconnect with the source of our food and meet the farmers who grew it. Some of these dinners feature a "celebrity" chef brought in to artfully prepare a meal befitting the beautiful surroundings. There have been a handful of such events at various farms near St. Louis over the past few years, but only a lucky few diners have been able to secure a seat. This summer, they are popping up everywhere, with one taking place almost every weekend.

See also: Resurrecting the Daiquiri: The Cocktail of Summer 2014

Claverach Farm - GREG RANNELLS
  • Greg Rannells
  • Claverach Farm

Every Saturday Farm Dinner Twenty miles outside of St. Louis, the 300-acre Claverach Farm (570 Lewis Road, Eureka; 636-938-7353) has been in operation for eighteen years, selling to local restaurants and at farmers' markets. Today Claverach shares its passion for producing delicious and artful food with the community in its refurbished 100-year-old barn with weekly "farm dinners." Four courses, drinks and hors d'oeuvres are served at long communal tables, with ample time for touring the property's gardens, orchards and vineyards. The chefs are Sam Hilmer and Joanna Duley, co-managers of the farm. Tickets are $65 and available at www.claverachfarm.com.

Claverach Farm - RACHEL SHULMAN
  • Rachel Shulman
  • Claverach Farm

Feast in the Field Sunday, June 8 The St. Louis chapter of the national Slow Food organization hosts its ninth annual fundraising event at Claverach Farm. Proceeds from the event will benefit Slow Food St. Louis' educational programming and Small Farm Micro Biodiversity Grant. Chef Cassy Vires of Home Wine Kitchen has assembled a wealth of culinary talent for the event, including chefs from Cleveland-Heath, Elaia & Olio, Five Bistro, Juniper, Milagro Modern Mexican, Pint Size Bakery, Pastaria and Strange Donuts. Wine will be provided by the Claverach Farm vineyard, beer by Perennial Artisan Ales and Schlafly Beer, and cocktails by Cocktails Are Go. Tickets are $140 and available at www.slowfoodstl.org.

Saturday, June 21 Taste and Tour EarthDance Farms' (233 South Dade Avenue, Ferguson; 314-521-1006) apprentice farmer program provides instruction in organic food, farming and gardening. It also grows more than 75 varieties of produce for a local community-supported agriculture program and sells produce at two farmers' markets and to area chefs and grocers. This June, groups of ten to twenty are invited to tour the farm and sample farm-fresh fare, including a visit to the "Cocktail Coop." The event is free, and more information is available at www.earthdancefarms.org.

Saturday, June 28 Building the Bridge from Farm to Table Amtrak will transport guests from St. Louis to Washington for a full day of activities. First up is a stroll through a farmers' market, boutique shops and art galleries, ending with a brewery tour complete with food and beer tastings from local producers. Next, a coach transports the group to Noboleis and Blumenhof wineries for wine tasting and food pairings. Then it's back to Washington for a tour of Todd Geisert Farm (4851 Old Missouri 100, Washington; 314-791-6942) and a multicourse pig-roast dinner overlooking the Missouri River. Dinner will be prepared by chefs Matt Bessler and Rob Uyemura. Tickets are $145 to $175 and available at www.missourirhinevalley.com.

Field to Fork - BILL FREEMAN
  • Bill Freeman
  • Field to Fork

Saturday, July 26 Field to Fork The HeartLands Conservancy of Southwestern Illinois is holding its fifth annual Field to Fork benefit at Bellecourt Manor (225 East A Street, Belleville, Illinois; 618-233-8490), described as "an exquisite culinary experience in local cuisine." Guests will meet local growers and farmers and learn about the economic, health and environmental benefits of supporting local agriculture. This year's chefs are Jenny Cleveland of Cleveland-Heath, Meaghan Boyer of Element, Jennifer Kennedy of J. Fires, Josh Galliano of the Libertine, Joe Hemp of Robust Wine Bar and Tim Faltus of Bellecourt Manor. Tickets are $90 for non-members and available at www.hearthandsconservancy.org/field-to-fork.

Chaumette Vineyard and Winery - WHITE KLUMP PHOTOGRAPHY
  • White Klump Photography
  • Chaumette Vineyard and Winery

Sunday, August 17 City Chef, Country Chef Chaumette Vineyards & Winery's executive chef Adam Lambay and the Cheshire Hotel's executive chef Rex Hale pair up for a farm-to-table communal dinner at the Barn at Chaumette Winery (24345 State Route WW, Ste. Genevieve; 573-747-1000) overlooking grassy fields, a pond, vineyards and the hills of the Saline Creek Valley. A tour of Baetje Farms, a certified humane artisan goat-cheese dairy and creamery, and tasting with owners Steve and Veronica Baetje, precedes the meal. Tickets are $65 and available at www.chaumette.com.

OUTSTANDING IN THE FIELD
  • Outstanding in the Field

Sunday, October 5 Outstanding in the Field National farm event planner Outstanding in the Field will travel to St. Louis' Such and Such Farm (13703 Fandel Drive, De Soto) for the first time, bringing with them their trademark "one long table" and gorgeous place settings for a luxurious yet rustic culinary experience. The event is hosted by local farmers Dave Blum and Autumn Sij from Such and Such Farm, and by Slow Food St. Louis. The guest chef for the evening is James Beard Award finalist Josh Galliano of the Libertine. Such and Such Farm's tag line ("from our farm to your face"), and its mission ("to work one-on-one with chefs to grow specific products for their individual needs and culinary dreams") offers a taste of the whimsical yet dedicated attitude behind what is sure to be a memorable evening. Tickets are $200 and available at www.outstandinginthefield.com.

Follow Sara Graham on Instagram at @SaraSunshineSTL and Twitter at @SaraSunshineSTL. E-mail the author at saralouisegraham@yahoo.com.

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