Telling the story of your table from field to fork. The table as love language. The table as relationship. The table as nourishment of every sort. The table as ephemeral art. This is the heart of so much of my work. Finding & creating sustenance where you are, when you’re there & embracing the perfect imperfection of things as they are. Of the season, of the region. Of the table. Of people. Of yourself. That’s all I stand for. All I do. And that’s what we lived, explored, and created together at the workshop retreat I hosted with Rebecca Gallop of A Daily Something a few weeks ago, Gathering From Scratch. Here’s the first installment of the photos (there are just too many gorgeous moments to limit myself to one post) and more about our workshop.
Rebecca and I wanted to explore each aspect of putting together a small gathering from sourcing your tableware, flowers, and food to cooking & laying the table to the moment it all comes together and you share in it and in each other. She found the perfect location, Oldstone Farm, a pre-colonial farmhouse in the Shenandoah Valley built in 1734. A working farm. A gorgeous, eccentric space where a family of trash-hungry labrador puppies roved, baby chicks peeped, and all manner of livestock milled in the pasture. Towering sunflowers nodded in the garden like lazy sentinels and one wily cat slinked around, lounging impudent as cats are wont to lounge. It was some sort of heaven. And the light, my God, the light was unreal. And so were the tables we laid together.
Styling isn’t about unnecessary fussing with things. It’s about telling a story, laying a table with attention to detail as an act of service, and creating beauty in every nook & cranny of life you can manage. It lifts up the mundane. Styling with Rebecca was pure synergy. And I can barely write her name without tearing up I miss her so much. Rebecca, working with you was an honor, a pleasure, and everything I hoped it would be and so much more. You are one funny, glowing soul, and anyone who can take my eccentric self is high on my list! I cannot wait until we tackle that madness again next year.
We started off with one big farm to table welcome dinner that went well into the bonfire hours during which The Great American Canyon Band played while people lingered over wine and clafoutis. Over the course of that languid weekend in late August we, along with our guests, spent the days baking, styling, photographing, and just spending time with one another around the table. We wanted each and every meal to be memorable, each moment to be beautiful, each bite delicious and local.
And so many people made that possible. We had two of the best interns I’ve ever known, Anna & Bekah, who worked like bees, and in the kitchen we had the indispensable help & salvation of Melinda of Knead and Know, a genius artisan bread baker, instructor, and cook. Not to mention cheerful in the face of boatloads of work, which is truly invaluable in any kitchen. Friends & family (the moms! Rebecca’s mother and mother-in-law helped so, so much!) pitched in and we couldn’t have done it without a single one of them.
We also had extremely talented partners like the photographers of Sweet Root Village and the videographers of Our Terrain who made the above video for us. Give it a play & check their work out. Besides that we had so many makers who were willing to share their talent & wares with our students. Because of them we were able to give each guest a handmade gift with each and every meal. You can visit each maker at the links below
Pear Tree Leather Co. – custom leather notebook cases and more | Ontario
Consider the Wildflowers – delicate, minimalist handmade jewelry | Tennessee
Sweetgum Co. – handcrafted reclaimed wood spoons & boards | Tennessee
Field Notes – the best everyday, spur of the moment idea notebooks out there | Illinois
Ortolan Organics – sustainable homegoods | California
Straw & Gold + Calyer Ceramics – online homegoods store featuring handmade & artisan wares | New York
Ambatalia – hand sewn linen bento & furoshiki bags and more| California
Daphnis & Chloes Herbs – handpicked & dried rare herbs | Greece
J Q Dickinson Salt – hand harvested salts from an under ground ocean in the Appalachians | Virginia
The menus were as much a joy to put together as the tables & gifts. They were an intuitive homage to late summer in the southern United States—heirloom tomatoes and peaches featured heavily. Heaps, really. Here’s the menu that kicked it all off:
Daily Gathering | Farm to Table Summer Supper Menu
Aged Gouda Pimento Cheese Crostini
Pickled Dilly Beans & Okra
Truffled Deviled Eggs
Roast Free-Range Chicken, Fig + Olive + Shallot
Charred Potato Fennel Leek Salad + Lemon Aioli
Heirloom Summer Garden Salad + Chevre + Summer Herbs
Polly Foster Yeast Rolls
Knead & Know Breads
Whipped Raw Honey & Sea Salt Cultured Butter
Rose + Cardamom + Peach Buttermilk Cornmeal Clafoutis
Stay tuned for part two. I’ll tell you all about how we spent our time—what we ate, did, and where we went! In the mean time…I’m just coming off of a two workshop trip to Australia & my heart is full and breaking at the same time. To ease my pain I’m focusing on next year’s itinerary which includes workshop-retreats in Venice, Japan, Australia, and Portugal. Email me if you want to get on the early bird list for next year’s retreats! (contact form in the side bar)