When we came up with the idea to host monthly garden parties that would connect people to local food in their neighborhood, we had no idea how we would actually pull them off. That is, until we met a group of people so passionate about urban agriculture that we literally decide to throw together a party in just one week. A special thanks to Emi Day, Michael Malecek (of Big Man Honey), and Nick McEvily, without whom this Memorial Day dinner party would have never existed.
When it comes to food, photos can speak louder than words. Taste can speak louder than photos, but we haven’t yet figure out how to send food through our blog. Until then, enjoy this documentation of our very first Growing Season Garden Party!
It all started with a little bromance.
Kidding, it all started with some excellent food prep and cooking in Emi’s River North apartment.
And since, of course, it called for rain that night… we moved our location from Emi’s rooftop to a West Loop gallery space called Design Cloud. They graciously accommodated us and our last-minute cooking needs.
With some final touches the food was ready to be served.
We had a bar, complete with our volunteer bartender Jeremy, who came up with a selection of specialty cocktails that had everyone raving.
One of our fellow hosts, Michael, also happens to be an urban beekeeper under the pseudonym Large Man Honey. He brought his jarred honey to display and sell to party-goers. (He also used his own honey in making the ice cream for dessert! Mmm.)
For this dinner, we decided on serving family-style. Given that this was a test party, we knew our close friends would want us sitting at the table conversing with them, not running around in the kitchen.
Hearty kale panzanella with fennel
Spring Greens with Crème Fraîche Dressing
Asparagus Risotto Verde
Pasta Prima VeraRoast Leg of Lamb
Raspberry Pie with Vanilla-Honey Ice Cream
The food was delicious, fresh, and sourced from our local farmers and producers including: Logan Square Farmers Market, Mint Creek Farm, Montalbano Farms, Majestic Nursery, Tomato Mountain Farm, and La Boulangerie.
We enjoyed the company of friends over multiple cocktails and bottles of wine.
After dinner, we went around the table and each described one of our freshest food experiences. We heard stories about exotic foods in foreign countries, fish eggs during a hiking trip, and tales of grandma’s cooking. Each person had a unique story and a different food to talk about, but there was always a common thread — happiness. Good food makes you feel happy. It makes telling stories about that food enjoyable. It connects you to the earth and the journey that food took to get to you. It’s real. And it’s something you just can’t get at a fast food restaurant or off the shelf of a supermarket. It’s always something local.
After storytelling came, you guessed it, more wine and finally dessert. The evening was one to remember. It might not have gone exactly according to plan, but you can’t control mother nature, and good company can make up for almost any blooper.
If you’re interested in participating in a future party as a host or attendee, please fill out this simple form. We hope to connect growers and buyers again soon!