Last Night's Dinner on the Deck at The Marsh was Magical

We couldn’t have asked for better weather. The wind had shifted, moving the tropical humidity of 24 hours ago east to clear the way for a perfect summer evening on the deck at The Marsh – the setting of last night’s Simple, Good and Tasty’s Local Food Lovers’ event.

The view to our north and west was acres of cattails, milkweed, rush grass and cottonwoods; the background music was the call of red-winged blackbirds, marsh wrens, and cardinals; the company was a lively mix of more than 50 local food lovers – young, not so young, city dwellers, suburbanites – all coming together to enjoy a meal made from locally sourced food.

Meal. The word sounds so ordinary and commonplace. But the food served by Chef David Owen Jones last night in that most spectacular of settings was anything but. I’m a bit hesitant to divulge what we ate, because I don’t want to incite envy in those who missed it, but, well, what the heck:

 Course #1: Smoked trout parfait, sesame crisp, frissee micro cilantro, heirloom tomato, lime and saffron vinaigrette.

Course #2: Gazpacho consommé with fennel oil.

Course #3: Beet Tartare, micro greens, chevre foam and lavender honey.

Course #4: Hidden Stream Farm pork three ways  – candied pork belly, confit of pork, Serrano ham, braised cabbage, cauliflower potato fondant, fried fennel and sweet onion balsamic emlusion.

Course #5: Vanilla-honey panna cotta, raspberry caviar-sea salt meringue and white chocolate mousse.

See what I mean? Not ordinary at all. In fact, extraordinary.

We were also treated to an array of local wines, carefully crafted by Wayzata’s own Warehouse Winery, and proudly presented by proprietor Billy Smith.

As a bonus, Chef Jones’s brother, Sean Jones, an instructor at the St. Paul College’s Culinary Arts program, talked about teaching chefs-in-training how to source local and sustainably produced food.

“I tell them that it takes an additional 10-12 hours a week just sourcing the food,” said Jones. “That’s compared to just getting it all in one place, like from a foodservice vendor, like Sysco.” But all this extra work pays off, he explained, with food that tastes better; is more healthful; benefits small, local farms; and reduces our carbon footprint.

“I hate when I hear people call local food a trend,” said Jones. “It’s not a trend. It’s a commitment. And it’s a responsibility.”

And, I will add, it’s a joy. Especially when everything comes together as perfectly as it did last night. I have to admit, we were a little nervous, at first, about holding our first SGT dinner outside of the hustle-bustle of the Twin Cities. Could we draw local food lovers in the western suburbs? But last night put our anxieties to rest, thanks to the perfect confluence of all that is good about sustainably grown, consciously prepared, downright delicious food: community, health, beauty, pleasure, and gratitude.

I’m especially grateful to the people at The Marsh who went way out of their way to make the night so special: Deb Garvey, for her ability to be gently, but firmly persuasive; Liz Anema, for a smile that could brighten the darkest mood; David Owen Jones, for being so secure in his abilities that he was amenable to an amateur’s advice; Jorge Correa, for coming in during his vacation to keep things from slipping through the cracks; and Tim Mortenson, for being the silent, steady leader ready to lend a hand wherever it was needed (like helping me use the photocopier).

And to everyone else who was there, including SGT writers Kristin Boldon and Debbie Morrison, who provided samples of Sapsucker Farm’s maple syrup to everyone who attended, thank you for taking part in such a memorable evening. Let’s do it again sometime soon.

Photographs by Marsh member Nancy Chakrin.



Shari Danielson is editorial director at Simple, Good and Tasty.
You can write to her at