Monday, November 21, 2011

Autumn in the Park

Early this month I had the pleasure of attending the second annual Autumn in the Park farm-to-table dinner to benefit the San Marco Preservation Society.

This year’s meal was highly anticipated due to the success of last year’s event and it sold out well in advance.

Autumn in the Park was easily one of the most memorable food events I attended in Jax last year and planner Anita Morrill outdid herself yet again. Anita was inspired by Outstanding in the Field events she’s attended around the country. They’re all about local food and local settings. A hallmark of Outstanding in the Field meals is a single long table – a setup that’s perfectly suited to San Marco’s tree-lined Davin Park.

Trad’s Garden Center provided herb plants for guests to take home as mementos from the meal.

When we arrived we enjoyed the cool tunes of the Just Jazz Quintet

… while enjoying appetizers made from local meats, cheeses and veggies created by Chef Kathy Collins of Café NOLA in the MOCA.

Sweet Grass Dairy Green Hill and Bradley’s grits cakes served with Twinn Bridges pepper jelly.

Twinn Bridges roasted vegetable skewers served with thyme vinaigrette.

Bradley’s sausage topped with Sweet Grass Dairy Lil Moo and mustards made with Intuition Ale Works brews.

That’s Chef Kathy on the left!

Ben Davis from Intuition Ale Works served Knothead Alt during the reception. It’s a malty, sweetish German brew (Chef Kathy used in to great success one of her mustards!) that’s perfect for a crisp autumn afternoon.

Chef Tom Gray from Bistro Aix and Sam Efron from Taverna listen as we all learn about Slow Food First Coast and Huguenot Cellars which provided our wine pairings for the evening.

And then the chefs went through the menu and told us about the purveyors and farmers who provided the ingredients for the meal.

When we sat down I was stoked to be across from Denise and Tom from Twinn Bridges farm in Macclenny. They’re incredibly locally-minded yet worldly in their food knowledge – they shared tips and stories about pomegranate molasses and angulas and Cuban foodways and the exact method for ensuring a perfectly crisp skin on a whole roasted pig. Plus they’re a lot of fun. And their veggies kick butt.

The first course was Twinn Bridges and Black Hog Farm butternut squash soup garnished with crème fraiche, Eden Farms bacon, Granny Smith apple, fried sage and pomegranate molasses. Chef Sam said one of his customers described it as autumn in a cup. It was served with Huguenot Cellars Cuvee de Blanc 2009, San Ynez Valley.

Olive oil-poached local striped bass was served family style with Twinn Bridges fairy tale eggplant and marinated piquillo peppers. Paired with Huguenot Cellars Cuvee de Rouge 2007, San Ynez Valley.
And the pièce de résistance: a whole pig roasted low and slow in a Caja China.

He was easily the most photographed guest of the evening.
The pork was carved and served with rutabaga-apple puree, Twinn Bridges and Black Hog Farm roasted autumn vegetables and braised greens. Paired with Revenge by Allora Vineyards 2009, Napa Valley.

Dessert was panna cotta with bruleed citrus and lemon-ricotta cookies. Served with La Gioiosa Moscato, Veneto Italy.

This is one of my favorite food events in Jax – don’t miss it next autumn!


Caroline Lewis said...

Cari- I am so happy to see your recent posts! I've lived in Jacksonville (PV) over 20 years, and after all that time your blog has introduced me to some new and delicious places. Autumn in the Park looks like a fantastic event; I'll watch for it next year.
In the meantime, check out Royal Palms Tapas & Wine Bar in AB (the old post office.) I'm hearing wonderful things from some in-the-know people.

Anonymous said...

Cari-I just saw your post on this year's Autumn In The Park! The photos were absolutely beautiful! Thank you for joining us again this year at the table and all of your support and kind words. I look forward to planning next year's farm to table and hopefully have a few new locations to add in 2012! All the best to you and yours during this holiday season. Warmest Regards, Anita Morrill/Owner-Empty Nest Boutique Events