Farm Fête

by | Dec 8, 2018 | Latest Stories

What could be more French than dining in an art museum while a chef from France prepares a five-course meal for 34 people?

That was the scene at the Bellefonte Art Museum for Centre County in mid-November for Farm Fête, an event by Provisions Magazine. The chef was Stéphane Gawlowicz, once of Paris where he learned to cook and now of Penn State where he is the managing chef of Redifer Commons. In France, he sourced his meals from the Loire Valley; in Bellefonte he used local farmers and producers from Bellefonte, Lamar, Mifflinburg, State College, Saxonburg, Centre Hall, Rebersburg and Woodward.

The art depicted farmland scenes from a 200-mile scenic swath of Central Pennsylvania and was provided by the Farmland Preservation Artists of Central Pennsylvania, five of whom were at the dinner and available to discuss their work.

Diner Art Heim said he thought the show was one of the best he’s seen at the museum. “It had all the hallmarks of what I believe is so special about the venue. Local artists producing wonderful world-class work, the synergy among artist and ‘providers’ in the community, the farm-to-table theme — this show brought it all together. (It) highlighted what is so special about our local environment and resident talent. This is a ‘special’ place to live and thrive.”

Ours is a community that relishes a feast for the eyes and one of the palate, making the setting an idea venue for a farm-to-table meal. “I feel like the Farmland Preservation Artists and Provisions Magazine have a similar mission: to highlight local farms for so many reasons, not the least being meals like this,” Provisions co-founder Maggie Anderson said in her introductory remarks. As the diners studied the art and quizzed the artists, waitstaff served an appetizer of head cheese and pain de campagne with sauce gribiche. They were so substantive they could have been a meal in themselves. Wisely, we paced ourselves, enjoying a welcome drink of Kir Royale, a classic French aperitif with crème de cassis and champagne.
Once seated at one long communal table in the museum’s first-floor Windows on the World Gallery, diners were served a course of saffron squash velouté with a goat cheese quenelle and more of the Gemelli bread. My immediate tablemates pronounced it “delicious, creamy and savory.” The texture of the soup was nothing short of velvet, and the tang of goat cheese kicked it into high gear.

Our next course was Cedar Spring smoked trout filet with pickled red beets and horseradish sour cream. We detected caviar on top of the filet. I never cared for fish but having recently had smoked salmon on a river trip in Alaska, I learned then that I’d been missing something. I was eager to taste the filet, and was not disappointed. My fellow diners agreed, admiring the interesting blend of sweetness, smoke and salt.

For the main course we enjoyed roasted guinea fowl with maple-glazed root vegetables and Pennsylvania morel jus. The meat was incredibly tender and topped with delectable skin. “It’s too good to leave here,” one of my tablemates said, requesting a doggie bag. She was not the only one taking home a tinfoil-wrapped piece of roasted guinea fowl.

The salad, served after the entrée in typical French fashion, featured mixed greens with Dijon mustard-walnut oil vinaigrette. The presentation garnered praise but not as much as the cheese topping it all. I detected a bite typical of the Irish cheese I feast on at home.

Dessert, an apple tart sable with raspberry reduction, earned the ultimate comment: “I want this recipe. It’s delicious.” It appeared with a dessert wine, one of three pours from Happy Valley Vineyard & Winery throughout the meal to complement the courses.

 

We finished the evening with coffee, madeleines and chocolate truffles. I cannot tell a lie: I think some of my tablemates had more than one.

 

Conversation capped our evening, and we happily engaged in a casual question-and-answer session with Chef Stéphane, who answered all our inquiries except the most pressing of all: When’s the next dinner?

 

(Good news! There are still tickets available for our next event at Revival Kitchen on Tuesday, Dec. 11!)

Poured in PA

Join Provisions Magazine Wednesday, May 15 at Black Sun Studios for a screening of the film “Poured in PA,” a feature-length documentary about Pennsylvania’s beer industry.

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