Farm to Fork was a fantastic celebration of the fall season in Williamsburg and a wonderful showcase of local farmers and food producers. This event is a partnership between William and Mary Dining Services and the Williamsburg Farmers Market. These two organizations work together to provide local goods to our dining halls and to support local farmers at the farmers market. The entire menu was 100 percent locally grown. From the chicken to the kale to the cranberries, everything came from local producers. A number of local farmers were present at the dinner to enjoy the exhibition of their produce, and it was clear that everyone was enthusiastic about the dinner as well as the close ties between these two organizations.
In my opinion, these locally-grown foods tasted fantastic. The baked apples, sweet potatoes and string beans were fresh and delicious. The chicken fell off the bone and was complimented well by a cranberry-apple relish. My favorite dish was the gnocchi, which was topped with local sheep cheese and the mushroom grits cake with tomato jam. These two dishes stood out from the rest because they were interesting and delicious. Each dish was well-cooked and warm, even without heating on the tables. I would especially recommend the local apple cider, produced by Showalter’s Orchard, which was served at the event. It was an amazing blend of tangy and sweet apple taste, rolled into a refreshing drink.
The ambience and venue for the Farm to Fork event was also superb. The decorations highlighted the rustic theme of the event, and each table had an adorable mason jar filled with lavender. The food was laid out for everyone as they entered the outdoor seating on the Sunken Garden. For some cosmic reason, the weather in Williamsburg was perfect. A local bluegrass band played throughout the event, switching from classic tunes such as “Wagon Wheel” to more instrumental songs. The perfect weather, bluegrass band and family-style dining created a relaxed environment and carefree attitude.
While all these dishes were made from high-quality ingredients, some of the menu lacked variety in showcasing the fresh produce. It seemed that each dish had pumpkin, cranberry, sweet potato or a combination of these three ingredients as the dominant flavors. Additionally, the menu choices were one-dimensional. Each recipe was either Pinterest-inspired, a Starbucks dessert or a special at Wawa. The pumpkin fever sweeping this nation is exciting, but should not be the guiding theme for menu selection.
The menu showcased the local produce but it did not offer a diverse palate. To be frank, the best dish from the event was an apple I took from my table. It was the most delicious apple in the world. If the menu complimented instead of forcing the fall flavors on the local ingredients, the ingredients would have been highlighted rather than smothered to bits. Overall, the local produce was fantastic, the ambience was great, and the cider was delicious. I would heartily recommend this event to anyone next year. I may be a bit of a food snob, but it should not stop you from enjoying your eightieth kale and cranberry salad.