On Saturday, August 16th I attended Dinner at Riverbound Farms south of Mandan. This was the 2nd annual event where local harvest is celebrated at dinner featuring vegetables and herbs from Riverbound Farms and local meats from Cloverdale and Brown’s Ranch. Featured food also included sorbetti from Fireflour Pizza and honey from TJO Bees. The meal was prepared by Beth Schatz Kaylor who writes the Rhubarb and Venison blog. Beth is also a freelance food and travel writer and is a complete sweetheart in person and on her blog. She focuses on cooking and eating fresh produce and free-range meat.
Tickets for this event went on sale about a month or so prior to the event. I saw they opened on my Twitter feed and I immediately asked my husband if he would like to attend. I pressed him for an answer as I thought the tickets might sell out fast. They were $55 each and participation was capped at about 50 attendees. He agreed to go and luckily we got two tickets in time as they were sold out that day.
This particular Saturday started out with very heavy rain. I was concerned we’d be eating in a swampy field as the rain did not let up for most of the day. Wouldn’t you know it that at about 5pm the weather started to clear. The event started at 6pm and by then the grass at the farm was dry, the sun was warm through the clouds and there was a gentle breeze to keep away most of the mosquitos. We truly lucked out and I imagine Chef Beth had plenty of concerns. She prepared all of the food out of a food truck and everything was expertly served by volunteers.
We were given directions to Riverbound Farm, which is located about 12 miles south of Mandan off of Hwy 6, near the Missouri River. The farm is operated by Brian and Angie McGinness. They grow organic vegetables and emphasize sustainability and community. They offer CSA shares to the community for a fee and raise: broccoli, cabbage, kale, spinach, peas, radishes, squash, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, watermelon, cantaloupe, onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, cucumber, green beans and gorgeous flowers just to mention a few.
Veggies for days!
The farm was easy to find and we arrived at just after 6 o’clock. We were instructed where to park and then came in under a wooden shelter where there were appetizers of caprese sticks with a mild cheese and fresh veggies with dip. You could help yourself to lemon infused ice water. I checked in with a host who checked us off the list and we waited for the horse wagon to come back to escort us to where we’d eat. The appetizers were perfectly sized and refreshing. I wish I knew what the dip was – it had some strong flavors and I enjoyed it.
Shortly, the horses came back and we enjoyed the quick trip past fields of flowers and vegetables. We arrived to the dinner area. There were two large tents – one had more appetizers and drinks and the other has our dinner table seats. Everything was decorated simply, but beautifully. I’d say it was country chic.
I always love drinking out of a mason jar!
Buffalo Commons Brewing had beer available – either the lager or a brown ale. You were also welcome to ice tea or lemonade. The appetizers here were Dot’s Pretzels (those are addicting!), cherry tomatoes, a lovely mild cheese and crackers. Another table offered a chilled borscht shooter. I could taste cucumber in it and it was garnished with dill. I’ll say this wasn’t my favorite as I’m not a huge beet fan, but it did prove to be a good palate cleanser prior to our seated dinner.
I found after the fact these cheese was cheese curds from Bessy’s Best, by Sterling, ND.
Borscht shooters garnished with dill.
During the social time, music was played by local musician Jessie Veeder and she was accompanied by a gentleman playing guitar and harmonica. She looked perfectly at home in her cowboy boots with the gorgeous rugged scenery and John Deere tractor in the background. Chef Beth came out briefly to tell us what would be served and we all sat down family style at two long tables.
We were instructed to take a seat and dinner would be served. The first course was a summer corn chowder topped with Cloverdale Foods maple Sriracha spiced bacon. The corn chowder was creamy, sweet from the corn and studded nicely with potatoes and zucchini (I believe). The star for most at our table was the spiced bacon. It was a wonderful mix of sweet from the maple and spice from the Sriracha. I loved this dish. There was a bread basket on the table and I sopped up the last of the creaminess with a bread crust. The volunteers were quick to serve each of us and pick up our dishes. You could have a red or white wine if you wished.
The second course was lighter on the palate and was a sweet and sour cucumber salad with red onion and dill. This was such a simple dish and I loved it. It really allowed the vegetables and spices to shine. I love cucumbers! This was cold and refreshing. I could have eaten 10 of these plates.
The third and main course was beef brisket, green beans, cornbread muffin and German potato salad. The highlights on this plate for me were the green beans and potato salad. Again, they are simple dishes that allow the vegetables to shine. German potato salad is dressed with vinegar and oil and is a wonderful change from the heavy mayo based recipes typically served. The potato salad included onion, pickles, bacon and mustard I believe. Wonderful. The beef brisket was from Brown’s Ranch in nearly Bismarck. We were actually seated near one of the men who raised the beef. I must say that beef brisket is not my favorite cut of meat. It would be one of the last items I would ever order on my own. However, I did love how this was seasoned.
To end the meal we were treated to sorbet from Fireflour Pizza in Bismarck. We had a scoop each of raspberry and lemon. The lemon was my absolute favorite. It was tart and refreshing. The sorbet was served with a TJO Bees honey shortbread which was perfectly crisp and not too sweet. TJO Bees is based out of SW ND with bee yards in Grant and Morton county. Their honey comes from sweet clover, alfalfa and wildflowers that are predominant in SW ND. It is always bottle pure, raw and unfiltered according to their website. I considered licking my bowl but (barely) refrained myself.
While we enjoyed our meal, we were treated to music by a small band of which one of the musicians was Ryan McGinness himself. They played a nice variety of music and I only wish it were a bit louder. Thank you to the McGinness’ for opening their land and home to us. What beautiful views we were treated to.
Can I have dinner like this every weekend please?
I’m so happy we snagged tickets to this event. I was able to meet a social media friend in person and it is neat to connect with someone after only seeing their picture. Hello Michelle if you are reading! I do believe most of the people we were seated around were very happy with their meals. I heard several people wanting recipes and wanting to sign up to attend next year. Chef Beth came out at the end to greet everyone and she was met with gracious applause by people with full bellies.
The only thing I would have changed is it would have been nice to have a printed menu. I found after the fact that there was meant to be one but some error led to it not being available. I also would have loved to hear more about how the food was sourced, where it was all from and even have Ryan and Angie speak some on their farm and what they do. I think it would be a great opportunity to share more about their farm. But those are minor changes and overall I was so happy to attend. We made friends with the couple across from us and it was wonderful to spend time like this with my husband since we are always on the run. I love food – I adore good food!
Hopefully there will be another event in 2015 we can attend!