Unpopular Opinion: You Should Only Have One Cheese on Your Next Board
According to this chef.
Published Apr 23, 2019 7:00 AM
This story originally appeared in the Spring 2019 issue of Domino, titled “Farm-to-Supper.” Subscribe to be the first to receive each issue.
Perched at the crossroads between Brooklyn’s creative scene and the local makers and farmers of the Hudson Valley, Ravenwood was originally a weekend escape from city living for chef and food stylist Chris Lanier and visual artist and designer Dana McClure. The couple has since made the bucolic four acres home—peppered with majestic oak and maple trees—and transformed it into a meeting place for cultivating meaningful gatherings. At the heart of the property sits a recently restored 19th-century barn, which serves as a backdrop for communal meals and various pop-up–style events held throughout the year.
So when author and chef Sarah Copeland of Edible Living sought a venue to host a benefit dinner for the FEED Foundation—a nonprofit organization aimed at fighting hunger—Ravenwood was a natural choice. Copeland and Lanier, who first met during their days working on the line under Andrew Carmellini at Café Boulud, were the masterminds behind the thoughtfully curated menu. Save for spices, nuts, and olive oil, Lanier sourced almost all the ingredients from the Hudson Valley. “Our dedication to cooking in season and Chris’s relationship with local farmers was a celebration of the hard work that so many people bring to our area,” explains Copeland. Enjoying the fruits of this labor and establishing a laid-back atmosphere was of the essence for the hosts. Here’s how they did it.
A self-serve approach to the cocktail hour came in the form of artfully assembled graze boards featuring cured meats, sauerkraut, and fruits and nuts tossed with a little sea salt and olive oil. This made it easier for the crowd to mingle without having to juggle plates and flatware—and minimized post-party waste. Copeland advises serving one or two kinds of cheese rather than being left with odds and ends from a wide assortment. Crudites can be chopped up and repurposed into a soup or vibrant salad the next day. Another way to avoid having too many leftovers: oysters shucked on demand.
Surprise the Senses
For Copeland, putting together a menu starts at the farmers market, where colorful produce and seasonal favorites are ripe for the taking. She approaches her meals as a medium through which to capture the imagination. “I like the idea of a guest getting a dish and thinking, Well, this is beautiful, but let’s see how it tastes,” says Copeland, “and then delighting them with pops of tangy pickled peaches, sweet yellow tomatoes, a punchy sorrel swish, and a lush drizzle of the very best oil.”
Pull From the Surroundings
The soft blush tones that became the evening’s signature palette were inspired by spring radishes spotted at the local market and appeared in everything from the wild floral arrangements and hand-dyed table linens to the taper candles and rosé. “We’re trying to create a space and experience that we ourselves would be excited to discover,” says McClure of the community-driven approach that fuels Ravenwood. Keeping with that theme, the 26-foot table that stretches the length of the barn was built by Copeland’s husband, Andràs Gipp of Hudson Workshop, using renewable white maple wood harvested in upstate New York, while the plates were crafted by the Woodstock-based, husband-and-wife ceramics duo Lail Design.
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