Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Out to Dinner

As a market manager, I love it when one of the Market's produce vendors diversifies - when they add a little something to their repertoire that differentiates them from other growers. Going organic is an example; so is offering heritage turkeys for the holiday season, or growing varieties of fruits or vegetables that no one else is. All of our vendors have a lot to offer and try hard to do something different each season.

This year, Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery (north end of Row Four) are diversifying their already-unique operation (they're t
he first farmstead cheesemaking facility in Illinois; farmstead means that they only use the milk produced from their goats to make their cheeses) by offering "Dinners on the Farm".

"Dinners on the Farm" are also "Dinners From the Farm". The hook here, besides physically having dinner on Wes Jarrell and Leslie Cooperband's farm...

... is that you also get to eat food sourced directly FROM their farm, or darn close. It's not just goats and goat cheese at Prairie Fruits, you see - they grow many varieties of several fruits, keep a good-size vegetable garden, and are friendly with people who produce what they don't - meat and certain vegetables.

Prairie Fruits employs Culinary Institute of America-trained Chef Alisa DeMarco to preside over the cooking for these dinners. I can tell you from personal experience that the meal is divine - un-fussy but of the highest quality in terms of taste and preparation - and the experience as a whole is terrific. It's dinner the way most of us never eat any more. You're dining al fresco, you bring your own wine, you have conversation during and between courses; you're "having dinner" for a few HOURS.

The next dinner on the farm will be this Saturday, August 16. Space is limited to 40 (please call Leslie at 217-643-2314 to see if the dinner is sold out), and cost is $65/person for 5 courses. Guests are asked to arrive at 4 PM for hors d'oeuvres and drinks, with dinner beginning at 5 PM and lasting until about 8 PM
. See menu in photo above for details.

If it is sold out? Not to worry. There'll be several more dinners on the farm this fall.

*****EDITED TO ADD:***** It looks like August 16 is sold out. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery updated its website overnight (looks fantastic!), and you can now reserve places for the other dinners here.

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