On the second Wednesday of every month, the Inn at Black Star Farms hosts its Harvest Dinner, a five-course meal that emphasizes the best of locally-harvested, in-season ingredients. The featured dishes for March? Snow cones. And ice water.
The idea behind the Harvest Dinners is both uniquely progressive and delightfully outdated. Refrigerated train cars, trans-continental irrigation systems, multimillion dollar harvesting equipment—in a word, technology—have all made it possible to basically have what we want, when we want it. And for that, restauranteurs and diners can rejoice.
But there are two sides to every story. On one side is, as mentioned, big agriculture. The other side encompasses the heirloom tomatoes, homemade jams and roadside stands of the world. It also includes Black Star Farms, where the guiding principle of their Harvest Dinners is not public demand, but the availability of fresh ingredients. So while March is admittedly less fruitful than those sunnier months, Black Star’s Exceutive Chef Jonathan Dayton estimates that about 70% of the ingredients to be used for this month’s dinner are sourced from Black Star’s own fully-functional farm, with the remainder being provided by farms from around Northern Michigan.
As for March’s Harvest Dinner, yes, there will be ice water on hand, but the menu gives center stage to a variety of dishes utilizing Black Star-raised geese: leg of goose confit, smoked goose sausage, and—for dessert—goose egg custard. Complementing the goose is an array of winter greens harvested at Leelanau Peninsula’s 9 Bean Rows, where hoop houses are employed to elongate the growing seasons for kale, swiss chard and collard greens. Root vegetables stored in Black Star’s cellars will also make a delicious cameo, and each dish is accompanied by a paired Black Star Farms wine. Sorry, no snow cones.
Visit MyNorthTickets for info on upcoming Harvest Dinners
“We’re dependent on the things around us” says Dayton. “Fortunately we’re not in a big city, so we don’t have to import seafood and other things like that. We depend on our lakes, and the community around us; we’re just using what grows in our backyard.”
The Harvest Dinner series was inspired by a single dinner at the Inn five years ago, where the focus was locally-harvested morel mushrooms. One thing led to another—namely a summer harvest dinner featuring tomatoes, basil, and other summertime favorites grown on Black Star’s Suttons Bay farm. The current year-long series was born from the success of previous years’ special dinners.
Watch Spring Emerge at Black Star Farms:
Says Dayton, “I’m still inspired by the things at my fingertips; it can be a challenge to come up with new menus, but it feels right to do it this way.”
The next Harvest Dinner at the Inn at Black Star Farms occurs on Wednesday, March 12th. For tickets to the event, please visit MyNorthTickets.com.