‘Fire Feast On The Farm’ At Pitney Meadows
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Journey’s lyric, “Just a small town girl…” is beyond apropos for me.
I was raised in apple country, in a town where my graduating class was 96.
A town where people worked in acres – not in hours.
So it made perfect sense that I was drawn to the Fire Feast on the Farm fundraiser. I learned that Pitney Meadows Community Farm would be holding this event on Tuesday, August 1, to support sustainable farming and education in agriculture in their newly constructed high tunnel.
The night promised celebrated chefs, bartenders and live entertainment by local musicians. The dress code was “farmhouse friendly” with long pants and closed toes shoes recommended.
Hmm, let’s see: I get to dress comfortably – not city girl comfortable, but Real Small Town Girl comfortable (in other words: Sorry Spanx, not tonight)?
I get to wear Cowboy boots, or maybe sandals? (My feet are already rejoicing!) And – I get to eat farm to table from some of the world’s greatest chefs?
You bet your sweet cow spots… I’m IN!
Simply said, this event was outstanding. It began as I parked my car and strolled past the newly completed, fully operating community garden. Each box had its own personal touches and filled with colorful flowers, fresh herbs and a variety of vegetables. After only a few strides, I was flanked by volunteers carrying various tasty appetizers such as pimento cheese deviled eggs, Moroccan spiced plank salmon with tubi 60 AgroDolce, beef liver mouse served with sumac crackers and fermented rhubarb mostarda, and green gazpacho with poblano, tomatillo and herbs.
I could have stopped right there and have been content, however I had not even reached the high tunnel or the six fire pit/cocktail locations. And, let us not forget, that there were also several standalone drink stations, including my first stop at our local Upstate Distilling Co.
When I arrived, I was greeted by a bowtie and suspender-clad Nicholas Alexander and his lovely cohort. I was handed an English Milk Punch and not knowing what to expect, I tentatively took my first sip of the cool cocktail.
One sip – and my palette is treated to a combination of slightly sour and tart with a hint of sweet. Nicholas kindly and enthusiastically explained the lengthy process that goes into making this drink, including bringing milk to a boil, incorporating acid, fruit juice and tea. The concoction then runs through natural fibers, such as cloth. This process is done over and over until the liquid is clear.
All of this for my little ol’ drink-I’m hooked.
For those of you that prefer non-alcoholic drinks – have no fear, there was a fresh lemonade/ice tea stand mingled with metal containers containing an overabundance of Saratoga Juice Bar cold pressed drinks.
With drink in hand, I entered the pièce de résistance, the high tunnel. The ground under my feet was soft with carpet; round tables surrounded by cushioned wooden seats were covered in white table clothes.
As I look around, people were grazing on the hand-passed appetizers, or sitting and helping themselves to garden fresh greens adorned with edible flowers, or various slices of artisan bread combined with Saratoga Olive Oil. Throughout the night there was rotating music, which was at just the right volume to allow you to converse with friends or simply sway to their sound.
At one point in the night I found myself stationed behind the band Cradle Switch, and I couldn’t help but smile at myself as I watched them play in Americana harmony – all either wearing (or playing alongside their kicked-off) Birkenstocks. There was nothing stuffy or pretentious about this event, just relaxing, delicious and filled with like-minded individuals.
All of this and I haven’t even begun to describe the main event, the fire feast. My first stop was to Pitmaster Jaime Young’s (from Brooklyn), local chefs Kevin London and Dan Spitz and Pura Vida fisheries station.
On my biodegradable plate was whole grilled and smoked striped bass with spruce butter/avocado squash chard over embers, and dressed with roasted pumpkin seeds, honey, Aleppo and olive oil. Paired with this amazing flavored dish was a spruce tip sour cocktail by Bar Master L.J. Sconzo from New York.
A meal in itself. And yet, there is so much more.
My next delectable dish came from local chef Matt Weekes and Alex Harrell Pitmasters station (New Orleans) was the New Orleans style roast oysters and barbecued shrimp paired with crushed cucumbers, fermented corn, tomatoes, summer herbs, crème fraiche and pok pok som. This meal was paired with a variation of the blood and sand cocktail from Bar Master Drew Janik from our very own Henry Street Taproom. His creation was smooth, and consisted of Ironweed whiskey mixed with equal parts blood orange liquor, cherry liquor and sweet vermouth.
As you can see, the variety and quality were beyond compare. The next two hours consisted of me practically running from station to station, over indulging in all the pleasures The Fire Feast had to offer.
As people feasted, schmoozed, and sipped, the sun began to set and the perfectly adorned globe lights began to twinkle under the roof of the high tunnel. People meandered around the silent action table and listened to speakers thanking them for their generosity and to hear about the future of Pitney Farm.
By next year this time they hope to have phase two of their community garden completed, in addition to renovating several barns and the farm house. As if this was not enough, a few of Pitney Farm’s short term goals are to offer trails around the farm and complete fundraising for the kid’s greenhouse. Currently, they have reached $35,000 of their $50,000 goal. Finally, they hope to be able to offer educational programs-which are the carrots and peas of what this farm is really about.
I feel honored to have been part of this sold out event. The Pitney Meadows Community Farm was truly a feast for all senses and I am already IN for their next fundraiser.
Photos: Arthur Gonick
August 4, 2017
Mandy Mittler is a caring mom, a Speech-Language Pathologist, and a member of the Board of Directors for Jake’s Help From Heaven. She will be part of our gala coverage, specializing in posts about the goals of not-for-profits and the people they help.