About last night…

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As I write this post sitting on our screened-in back porch, it’s cool and rainy. I’m sitting here listening to the gentle sound of raindrops and breeze through the oak tree leaves– it’s incredibly peaceful. With such gloomy weather this morning, it’s hard to believe that only a few hours ago, we were dining al fresco under the light of globe string lights and a huge, uplit Magnolia tree. We had course after course of rustic Italian cuisine paired with perfectly complimentary Italian wines. Laughter, storytelling with new friends, and Catarina Valente softly playing in the background. An unforgettable dining experience.

This is Dinner in the Field.

Curious what this is all about? Here’s an explanation from the Chefs themselves– Paige and Gregorio:

My husband Gregorio and I are a Chef team, who fell in love while cooking and eating together in Southern Italy.

I had recently completed my culinary studies in Italy and Gregorio, an Italian native, was continuing to learn his craft from family members, who had been teaching him ever since he was tall enough to reach the counter. When Gregorio and I met, neither one of us could speak very much of the other’s language, but lucky, food became our universal language. We formed a strong connection in the kitchen–learning from each other, one dish at a time.  After just a few weeks, we were inseparable as we shared our passion for creating large family meals from food grown right outside Gregorio’s doorstep–milk from his cousin’s cow, orange juice from his orange tree, eggs from his Aunt’s chickens, and vegetables from his sister’s garden.  

These relaxed, alfresco family dinners on the Southern Coast of Italy inspired us to return to my hometown of Richmond and share our experience with the people of VA. Each Dinner in the Field event is focused on cooking from the ground up.  First, we find the local seasonally specific ingredients, then we find the breathtaking location, and lastly we create a menu to compliment the entire experience. 

We hope to see you at one of their family tables this summer. 

Working at Virginia Tourism, we have highlighted Dinner in the Field in our marketing– from an advetorial in Food Network magazine to connecting our friends from SORTEDfood with Chef Paige for cooking lessons on a boat and the Dinner in the Field experience for themselves. I had heard how special this evening was– most of these dinners sell out within 10 minutes of posting tickets — but I hadn’t yet experienced it myself. And I am so very glad I had that opportunity last night!

 
We arrived at the stunning Seven Springs, less than 20 miles from the heart of Richmond in King William county. The farm boasts expansive acreage dotted with little cottages, beautiful old trees, a fenced-in area for their Hog Island sheep, and a manor house (frequently visited by George Washington). Note to soon-to-be-brides: this is the most perfect place to get married. Look into having your wedding here!

*All photos courtesy Don Mears Photography/Seven Springs Farm

We strolled around the grounds with glasses of prosecco in hand, then relaxed in the outdoor living room while Chef Paige introduced the first course — the apertivo.

  • Rustici con riccota e pomodori secchi (a light, flaky pastry with ricotta cream, basil, and sun dried tomatoes)
  • Aged parmigiano reggiano cheese and local honey

adored the rustici — it was light and refreshing but also decadent in a way, as well! So yummy.

IMG_1006Next, Chef Paige asked us to find our seats at the long dining room table a few yards away, next to a beautiful Magnolia tree. The table was decorated with seasonal vegetables and bouquets of basil as centerpieces. Paige and Gregorio would come out between each course to tell us about what we were about to eat. Many of the ingredients were just hours or days off the vine– which meant they retained maximum sweetness and nutrients. And we also learned: never ever refrigerate your tomatoes! Each course was absolutely incredible.

Chef Paige and Gregorio also share some of their guests’ favorite recipes on their blog, and I was so pleased to find the recipe for tiramisu and parmigiana this morning. Yay!

We were treated to the following courses, each were fresh, seasonal, and, well, pretty perfect.

  • Insalata: Italian green beans, potatoes, onions, cherry tomatoes, oregano and basil.
  • Primo: Rigatoni al Pesto com Gamberi (basil, parmigiano, garlic, pine nults, walnuts and pistachios, blended and sauteed with rigatoni pasta with zucchini and shrimp).
  • Secondo: Parmigiana (layers of sliced eggplant baked with fresh tomato sauce, parmiggiano reggiano, basil, and provola cheese)– this was my FAVORITE! And lucky for me (and you!) Chef Gregorio has shared his recipe here.
  • Dolce: Tiramisu’ (with mascarpone, coffee, and cacao). Recipe here!

We ended the night around 11pm and made our way back to downtown, still chatting the whole way about each course and what a dreamy evening it was.

I simply cannot say enough about what a magical experience Dinner in the Field was, and I can’t wait to return for another. Chefs Paige and Gregorio are hoping to soon open a restaurant to share Dinner in the Field with more people — so stay tuned for what is sure to be an in-demand destination restaurant!

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Two very happy campers last night above – thank you Chefs Paige and Gregorio for a once-in-a-lifetime experience that we will cherish forever!

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