The Nevada City Farm to Table event that occurred Sunday, August 11th on Commercial Street in the heart of Nevada City took many by surprise. Through word of mouth and a little social media, tickets sold out a week before the event, ultimately making pre-sale promotion unnecessary.
Lack of promotion didn’t stop over one hundred people from snapping up their $65 tickets so they could come together at one long table situated under strings of terrazzo lights that crisscrossed over Commercial Street. Italian linens and formal place settings were prepared along with dozens of floral arrangements while local servers busied themselves bringing a menu of farm fresh cuisine, served family style, to the table of excited attendees.
Event organizer and former City Councilwoman and Mayor, Reinette Senum, said it was the first of its kind for Nevada City. “Farm to table events are becoming increasingly popular, but having it in the heart of Nevada City with our 150 year old New Orleans style buildings as a colorful backdrop created a magical effect.”
Starting late afternoon, the street was closed down and quickly transformed by a small army of volunteers that utilized straw bales to cordon off a section next to the Boardwalk so as to set up the extended table for the gala. As the street began to be transformed, many amazed onlookers sat to watch the show unfold.
Three hours after set up was initiated, guests streamed in and were taken to their seat while local, professional servers, from surrounding restaurants, began serving. As the sun slipped behind the historic buildings, the hanging terrazzo lights’ warm glow filled the street while Ragged But Right played on the Boardwalk that had been transformed earlier into a stage lined by towering sunflowers planted in June, in preparation for the extravaganza.
As the evening unfolded, an 8-piece band, The Earles of Newtown, took over the second set and played New Orleans style music that took the crowd by storm on what generally would be a quiet Sunday evening.
As the band played, a silent film flickered on the second story exterior wall of Café Mekka, provided by The Nevada City Film Festival.
Senum added, “This was a big test for all of us and from what I can tell, we passed it with flying colors.”
This particular farm to table was not only unique for holding it in the middle of a downtown street, but the menu literally was a community affair: meals prepared by a host of neighboring restaurants and caterers rather than just one catering company.
“We didn’t want just one caterer to make all the food. Instead, we had a restaurant or sustainably-minded caterer take on a dish in the menu,’ said Shanan Manuel, owner of Sierra Farm to Table Event & Catering who created the menu for the event.
The farm fresh food was provided by mostly local and regional organic farms, then delivered to the Nevada City Farmers Market where it was distributed to participating restaurants, Matteo’s Public, Lefty’s Grill, Café Mekka, Pete’s Pizza, The Crazy Horse Bar and Grill, The Fix and Treats Ice Cream. The Chamber served Clavey’s Wine that is located on lower Commercial Street.
The menu included margarita aperitif; watermelon gazpacho; grilled peach & gorgonzola with arugula; barbecued chicken with chimichurri pomegranate sauce; wild rice with fresh figs and pecans; and Treats homemade vanilla ice cream with pan berry sauce.
Participating farms included Mountain Bounty, Dinner Bell, First Rain, Riverhill, Soil Sisters, Nutty Acres, and The Healthy Harvest Garden Project of the Food Bank of Nevada County, to name a few.
Chicken and vegetable kabobs were made available while the public was encouraged to join in the festivities. An additional 150 people came to partake in the unusual Sunday festivities.
Now the question remains, will this become an annual event?
“I can’t think of any better way to promote and brand Nevada City than through a farm to table event such as this.” said Senum. “We get to show off our farms, restaurants, food and wind, music, healthy living, and historic backdrop all while building an even stronger sense of community that is and has been the backbone of this community.”
To encourage an inviting downtown environment throughout the summer months, proceeds of the Farm to Table, were donated to the Boardwalk Fund: dedicated to bringing live music to Commercial Street such as the weekly event, Acoustic Thursday from noon to 2pm.