For years, Vermont fields have welcomed a hungry public for on-farm dinners — in the summer. But Alessandra Rellini of Agricola Farm in Panton has hatched another way to share her food with her neighbors, even in cold weather. On February 13, she'll launch a dinner club featuring ingredients grown on-site.
A longtime fan of Richard Witting's globe-hopping Isole Dinner Club events, Rellini reached out to the chef for help in planning and executing her new series. "I like the fact that he wants to make the event an experience, not just a meal," the farmer explains. "That's just what we want to do here."
Sourcing can be a challenge for a February farm dinner, but Rellini says the only item on the five-course menu not grown at her farm or nearby is the salad. The meal begins with Agricola's lamb served with mushrooms in homemade puff pastry. House ravioli (incorporating the farm's eggs and veggies) are filled with ricotta and Italian saffron, while Agricola's sausage is served over polenta. The meal ends with tiramisu, warm drinks and digestives.
There's room for 26 diners in the 1850s farmhouse that Rellini shares with husband Charles and daughter Eva. "Membership" to this month's dinner club costs $90 per person, including tax, gratuity and a $10 discount on any class offered on the farm during 2015, such as a Raviolo Clinic scheduled for February 21. Diners who sign up before February 6 will get a discounted rate of $65. Not included in the fee are the shuttles to and from Burlington that Rellini is organizing to get diners safely home after a wine-filled evening.
Rellini hopes to host a dinner club each month, moving the meal in the summertime to tree-lined areas of her fields. As a trained butcher, the Italian native will continue to focus on meat, especially once her on-farm processing facility opens later this year. Future dinners may include housemade charcuterie and themed pork roasts prepared in international styles.
For now, Rellini just hopes the weather cooperates with her pre-Valentine's Day feast.
The original print version of this article was headlined "Local Meat Up"
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