(All photos courtesy Whiskey and Soba)
When we set out with the crazy idea that we would quit our jobs, move to St. Louis, and hold a series of pop-up dinners to introduce ourselves to our new community, we knew it would be a challenge. Now that our first dinner is under our belt, we can say with certainty that is one of the most challenging things that either of us have done. But also really, really fun.
It takes a village to put on a pop-up dinner, and we called upon every chef, restauranteur, farmer, small business owner, family and friend that we have to make it happen. The sprit of St. Louis is of genuine support and hospitality, and we couldn't have done it with out everyone's help. For that we are forever grateful.
For our first dinner, we selected beautiful and unique Bowood Farms to set the stage for our first introduction to the St. Louis dining scene. Bowood is part plant nursery, part retail, part cafe, and provided us with a bright, green, and warm space. Guests entered through large iron gates, walked through a gravel, plant-lined walkway, and were greeted by Michael who was tending to the firepit. Cabbages were cooking directly on the charcoal, and pork shoulders which had been roasting over the indirect heat of the coals were just coming off and heading back into the kitchen.
Inside the lush retail space guests were sipping on the Forager's Fizz, a gin based cocktail with Missouri elderberry juice, vermouth, and Rosemary from Bowood's greenhouse. Trays of bright pink watermelon radishes draped with lardo from Boylard's Meat and Provisions were passed to get everyone ready for the meal ahead.
While everyone gathered round the bar, Michael and his team of magical elves were putting the finishing touches on the edible table scape that would serve as our first course. We used Bowood's clay and ceramic planters and saucers to hold delicate baby vegetables from farmer Greg Pusczek of Freshki's Farm, and guests were able to run through a variety of dips made from turnip and carrot tops, seasoned yogurt, and herb pesto. Whole heads of lettuce, harvested that morning from Bowood's high tunnels, were carefully stuffed with slices of Salume Beddu soppressata.
Once things got going we all found our groove and the evening went beautifully. Wines from small, interesting producers around the world were poured, vegetable driven courses were shared amongst friends old and new, and a winter warming chestnut old fashioned capped off the evening and prepared all for the cold winds that met them on their way home.
We had such a great time getting to know our supporters, new friends in the chef community, and passionate and excited eaters from all over St. Louis. We felt a huge sense of relief that we made it through out first dinner with the confidence that we made the best possible choice in starting this new adventure here. It may take a village to put on a pop-up dinner, but it's a village we are so proud to be a part of.
We look forward to sharing more stories and photos from our upcoming dinners.
Tara & Michael