For our 2nd Annual A Wild and Wonderful Table we decided to stick with what worked last year at our inaugural dinner, which was everything, and add a few more elements to spice things up a bit. If you attended both you know what of I speak but if you didn’t follow along here and thru the magic of words and pictures I’ll bring you up-to-date. If after reading this post you’re kicking yourself for not attending, well, there’s always next year. Just don’t shoot the messenger.
First off, we moved the festivities closer to home and landed at the home of Jim and Brenda Raines and their son, and BFM Board Member, Daniel. The property is located just off of Rt 19 North between Clarksburg and Shinnston and features your basic, beautiful West Virginia topography along with an on-site pond and a horse farm next door. In addition the Raines’ are in the timber business by trade and know a thing or two about native woods. Which leads me to our first special addition to the evening’s amenities and one that left all in attendance speechless.
Daniel Raines-designed handcrafted outdoor tables painstakingly built with wood harvested from trees grown on the property! Ten 16′ foot tables with benches to be exact all built where they stand in these pictures by Daniel (grey shirt in picture above) and his crew Kevin Shon, Kent Spellman, Mike Costello, Amy Dawson, John Jennings and Mollie Toppe, Frank and Kaycee Crislip, and Heidi and Dan Nawrocki with their kids, Cole and Jenna. They had to be built on site because no human that I know could pick one up to move it! So how many dinners have you been to that featured tables built specifically for the occasion?
No outdoor party is complete without beautiful floral arrangements and as you can see we went above and beyond the call on this front. The Market’s newest vendor, Shyla Yoder of Love Shyla, took care of everything and then some. That’s Shyla in the picture on the upper left above putting the finishing touches on one of her bouquets.
Of course the main event of the evening was the spectacular meal prepared by six of our region’s finest chefs using the best in local ingredients. Starting clockwise from the upper left we have Chef Cody Thrasher’s (Cody’s Restaurant) Spicy Thai Pumpkin & Sweet Potato Curry with basmati and cilantro followed by Chef Sean Duarte’s (Mia Margherita) classic Appalachian Burgoo Stew with Corn Fritters. Chef Donnie Orr contributed a hearty Mutton Meatballs dish with Bloody Butcher Grits and a pepper jam. Chef Mike Costello’s (Lost Creek Farm) Empanada Gallega is his take on an original recipe from Harrison County’s Spanish community. It’s topped with a Tomato Sorghum Sofrito with Sorghum from BFM vendor Radabaugh Farm of Uphsur County.
The desserts were created by Chef Pamela Delaude (Bridgeport Conference Center) and consisted of a heavenly Gooseberry Pavlova (top), a Plum ClaFouti (bottom), and a glorius Gooseberry Macaroon (right). Finally, we have Chef Geoff Kraus (Thyme Bistro) and his big pan which is full of another Appalachian take on a Spanish dish, Mountain Paella.
The bottom picture is of several chefs and our host, Mr Raines, goofing off. Needless to say, your friendly blogger had seconds, oh alright, thirds, of everything and never goofed off the whole day.
Our beverage director for the evening, Athena Freedlander (bottom picture), designed two unique cocktails to pair with the meal along with the choice of one of our excellent local craft brews, the Halleck Pale Ale from Chestnut Brew Works in Morgantown. Above our bartender Hannah Maguire mixes up Athena’s Apple Basil Gimlet while her assistants, Dylan Myers and Brennan Duarte, ready another batch of syrup for the Watermelon Rosemary Margarita.
Entertainment was another area where we doubled down on last year’s event. The evening consisted of two venues (more on that in a minute) each featuring local musicians. During the main event BFM favorite Annie Neeley and her band performed their unique mix of country, Americana, jam rock, and R&B. Joining Annie were her husband David Kirkpatrick on bass, Matt Eakle on guitar, and Mark Dinaldo on drums. Sitting in on backing vocals in the picture above was our other BFM favorite, Hillary Kay. Hillary also performed solo and with Annie on backing vocals later on at our second venue. Neither a bad note nor a forgotten lyric was heard all evening. They even let your blogger sit in on drums for one tune. Just one.
Speaking of that second venue, this year we added an after-party and Quinn Miller of BFM vendor Feathered (top middle photo), our decor designer, went to work transforming a small clearing beside Raines Pond into an outdoor living room complete with antique furniture and a fireplace. Add the lush vocals and unique ukelele strumming of Hillary Kay and, voila, a chill space (sorry, no Netflix) without parallel anywhere. Guests also found their going home presents here in the form of homemade jars of jam courtesy of BFM vendor In A Jam. Some opted to pop them open and eat straight from the jars. Or so I was told, I myself would never do such a thing. And cigars were enjoyed as well. Again, or so I was told….
As you can see a great time was had by all. In the end there was much speechifying by the Wild and Wonderful Table coordinator Athena Freedlander and Chef Mike Costello (upper right) and even poems recited by our resident poets The Bards Of Yellow Wood (one of whom, Brian Elliot, is shown with his wife in the picture on the lower left). Be sure to stay tuned here next September for our 3rd Annual A Wild and Wonderful Table.
Most pictures courtesy of Jessica McDonald from her blog Cacti & Mountains and Carrie Robinson from her blog Frugal Foodie Mama. Thanks Ladies! Also, the Market wants to give a special shout out to Brock Duarte for playing parking attendant.