One of my favorite things to do in the summer and early fall is head to a dinner on the farm. Luckily, right here in Connecticut we have plenty of opportunities to do so as there are more and more restaurant groups partnering with local farms to showcase culinary skills and local foods.
I was so excited to attend the DORO Restaurant Group’s September farm dinner at Sub Edge Farm in Farmington – being a big fan of Treva and all of Dorjan Puka’s restaurants, I knew it would be phenomenal. Every dinner begins with a farm tour by the owners of Sub Edge Farm, Rodger and Isabelle Phillips. Not only did we get to do a farm tour, but there were beverage tastings, and a six-course feast crafted by Chef Scott Miller.
Born and raised in Albania, Chef Puka moved to Connecticut in 1998 seeking new experiences and opportunities. Leveraging his culinary talent and strong work ethic, Puka worked his way up in various kitchens in the region including Vito’s by the Park, Max’s Oyster Bar and Max’s Tavern in Springfield, Massachusetts. In December of 2010, Puka opened his first solo venture, Treva Restaurant & Bar, an Italian concept in West Hartford. The restaurant was unlike anything in the area and garnered great reviews from The Hartford Courant, Connecticut Magazine and The New York Times. And in the last four years, Puka has successfully opened 3 more restaurants: Àvert Brasserie and Zohara in West Hartford and Artisanal Burger Company in Manchester.
Raised in Woodbridge, Connecticut, Chef Scott Miller worked his way through the kitchens of some of Connecticut’s finest restaurants and country clubs. Miller is the pioneer of the Farm to Table movement in our area, along with the Chefs of the DORO Restaurant Group. Miller started the award-winning Max’s Chef to Farm Program in 2009 and now has reunited with Chef Puka as Chief Operating Officer and Partner of DORO Restaurant group.
It’s not a coincidence that Puka and Miller chose Sub Edge Farm to partner with as Sub Edge has many things in common with the DORO Restaurant Group including a commitment to using sustainable farming and business practices. Each dinner is cooked from scratch and showcases that day’s best produce. Because the ingredients are sourced daily from local farmers, ranchers and fisherman, each menu is different and a delightful surprise. In my opinion, there’s something exciting about not knowing what your meal is going to be!
But, let’s get to the amazing food! We started with a fantastic cocktail hour of Salumi & Formaggi including speck, finocchiona, cacao di tartuffo, brillo di vino and cambozola. In addition, we were treated to passed hors d’oeuvres of sweet and spicy pepper arancini, honey pork belly, watermelon pickles and candied balsamic tomato tart. Mike, the beverage director, whipped up a thirst-quenching farm cocktail with cynar, amaro Montenegro, pavan, mint, honey, lime and gingerbeer.
Our first course was a refreshing tomato gazpacho with fried kale and pesto crème fraiche. Next came a delicious warm collard green salad with peaches, goat cheese and roasted pepper vinaigrette. The pasta fresco was a braised veal gnocchi with rainbow chard, cherry tomato and herb breadcrumb. Our entrée – to die for – crispy porchetta with truffle onion puree and herb potatoes. Also, served family style at the table was a tomato and onion salad, fresh corn polenta and roasted peppers. And, of course we can’t forget dessert – a wonderful sweet basil panna cotta with watermelon – light and refreshing to end the meal. Everything was unbelievably delicious. But considering almost all of the ingredients were picked that day – how could it not be!
I highly encourage checking out these dinners, not only for the amazing meal you will have, but for the learning experience and most importantly to support these Chefs who are truly passionate about what they do. These are the farm dinner dates planned for the 2018 season.
June 21st- Zohara Dinner
July 13th- Avert Dinner
July14th – Bastille Day Farm Festival – Avert
August 2nd- ABC Dinner
Sept 7th- Treva Dinner
Sept 8th Farm Festival
Oct 4th – Zohara Dinner
Submitted by Dr. Diane Hayden.
For more information about DORO Restaurants, visit: https://dororg.com; https://trevact.com; https://zoharact.com; https://avertbrasserie.com; and https://artisanalburgercompany.com.