Farm hosts family-style dinner
For me, bachelor Saturdays in autumn generally are reserved for baseball playoffs, college football games, fire on the charcoal grill and late-night cheeseburgers.
That changed this past Saturday — I passed on the Boston Red Sox, Notre Dame and the 15-minute television supper to sample an extravagant, four-course Italian dinner.
A friend of mine proposed the trip to Washington County, and the Dancing Ewe farm in Granville — about 70 miles northeast of Schenectady.
Proprietors Jody Somers and Luisa Scivola-Somers have just started a fall series of evening meals and are serving Tuscan-style food. The series promotes Italian cuisine as well as the Italian custom of passing the night with wine and conversation.
The dinners — reservations are $75 per person — are preceded by a tour of the Somers’ farm operation. About 120 sheep are on the premises, and the couple make caciotta, pecorino and ricotta cheeses. Cured meats are also part of the business.
But Tuscany-born Luisa’s farm dinner in a spacious, refurbished barn is really the main event. White, battery-operated pillar candles on tables and miniature white lights strung near the ceiling provide a pleasant, ambient glow. A long table seated 16 people, eight to each side. A smaller table was reserved for a party of five. Casual dress seemed to be the favored fashion.
This past Saturday, small pieces of white pizza and cheese were served as appetizers. The “5 Octobre” session began in earnest with a 7 p.m. serving of “antipasti,” pairings of cheese and marmalades and crostini — “little toasts” — with toppings.
The big hitters were the second and third courses. Plates of tagliatelle, thin and ribbon-like pasta served with mushrooms and sausage, were out of the kitchen first. Diners were encouraged to top the hearty pasta with liberal splashes of the farm’s homemade olive oil. Twenty minutes later, pork medallions with cured olives and sautéed eggplant were served.
At this point, some of my fellow diners — who included a school teacher, surgical supply salesman, farmers’ market organizer, engineer, publisher and nurse — were tiring. A couple said it was just too much food to discuss and digest. I was nearly at gastronomic capacity myself, but finished the ricotta cheesecake for dessert.
Bottles of red and white wine were also on the table, but as a beer drinker — and designated driver for the evening — I stuck to ice water.
Most of the food served is produced at Dancing Ewe; other ingredients are purchased at a nearby farm. And while people were talking about the food, they were also talking about their occupations, news of the day and life in Granville. One man remarked that it was a rare thing for strangers to meet for one night and invest 21⁄2 hours in a shared dining experience. We would probably never see each other again.
The farm will conduct other dinners on Oct. 26, Nov. 23 and Dec. 7. More information is available at www.dancingewe.com.
Reach Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 395-3124 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.