We walked into Saugatuck Grain & Grape in Westport excited to kick off the Fork It Over event. While it was our first time at this event, we knew if Westport Farmers’ Market was at the helm, we were in for an amazing evening. A crowd had already gathered, conversation bubbled over from the entryway to the side room. Not wanting to waste any time at all, we grabbed our champagne, checked out the amazing liquor and wine variety, and ogled the Negroni cocktails they had aging in barrels. We also had some great conversations with Lori Cochran-Dougall, the Director of Westport Farmers’ Market, and Chef Bill Taibe of LeFarm/The Whelk/Kawa NI, talking about what’s new and delish in the CT food scene.
Then, just like that, Lori and Mimi McLaughlin from Saugatuck Grain & Grape started to talk to the crowd, letting us know about the enduring work of Westport Farmers’ Market and their mission of bringing farm fresh food to Fairfield County. Finally, they both gave out address cards to all the attendees. From there, we all drove to wherever that address took us. And, awaiting us at the local Westport home would be one of four chefs: Matt Storch from Match, Arik Bensimon from leFarm, James Cooper from Bonda, or Geoff Lazlo from Mill Street Bar & Table.
When we arrived, we were blown away by the GORGEOUS house that was hosting (which happens to be for sale if you have a cool $6.9MM to spare). We took a look at the kitchen and were psyched to see that Chef Cooper was prepping because we never had Chef Cooper’s food before.
Out on the patio Mimi was mixing Gin Blossoms and Sweet Teas with Bourbon, as well as pouring some choice wines. Both cocktails were killer and kept us coming back up until dinner. As we enjoyed all those drinks, we had a chance to talk with amazing people like Farrah Masani, owner of Farah’s Farm in Wilton.
Passed hors d’oeuvre started coming out of the kitchen as we enjoyed the beautiful night. Some of our favorites were the Reubens with Ramp (mmm ramps), Scallops with Sweet Corn, and the one we loved the most: Creamy Marscapone Polenta with Craft Butchery Sausage and Blueberries—we love ourselves a good savory and sweet dish, but throw some creaminess in there and we’re in love!
Every bite we had was just killer, so when it came time for the sit down dinner portion of Fork It Over, we were eager. We got a seat and in just a few minutes the five course dinner began. There was a Pickled Cucumber Salad with Buttermilk Dressing (a great, well-balanced combo), Stuffed Zucchini with ragu (nice and zesty), Grilled Swordfish with carrots and salsa verde (the salsa was killer good), Fried Chicken with grilled peaches and onions and corn suossotash, and the finale of Blueberry Ice Cream in Ginger Sauce (yum). The highlight of the night was the fried chicken with a crispy, crunchy skin that gave way to moist meat inside. Those pieces were perhaps the best pieces of fried chicken we had ever put between our lips. Dorothy, who we shared stories of food and travel with, told us we needed to try Chef Cooper’s Bread Pudding during the colder months. Oh, we will.
And, like that, the night was almost over. It ended with Ryan Fibiger of Craft Butchery, urging everyone to donate to such a worthy organization. Hearing Ryan, Chef Taibe, Mimi, Farah, and Lori talk throughout the day made us feel so proud to be part of such an amazing community of people who keep things local and who believe in food in its purest form. It made us wish that we could do more, help more, and continue the work of all the great people, business owners, and farmers at Westport Farmers Market.
We left satisfied, not just in terms of what we ate, but also with rewarding conversation with great people, and knowing that we helped if even just a bit. If you’re looking to support the work of WFM, the best thing that you can do is visit their market on Thursdays and think about donating to them to help people to get pure food and support their many charitable pursuits. In addition, please keep these dates on your calendar: 9/27 and 3/3/16. Those two days are the next Fork It Over events and you won’t want to miss either because you never know which chefs will be there or what they’ll be making.
Thank you again Lori for inviting us and to Chef Cooper for a memorable dining experience.