The Hippo


Oct 16, 2019








“A colorful dish from a previous Farmers Dinner at bluAqua.” Photo by Matthew Lommano.

“Cochon de lait” Farmers Dinner

When: Sunday, May 31, seatings at 4 and 7 p.m.
Where: bluAqua, 292 Route 101, Amherst
Tickets: $79. Purchase at

Fresh from the farm
The Farmers Dinner season opens with Three Little Pigs theme

By Allie Ginwala

The Farmers Dinner, an event that brings farmers, chefs and diners together with the common goal of experiencing high-quality local fare, kicks off its 2015 season with a dinner at bluAqua Restaurant & Bar. 

Cochon de lait, a French term for cooking a pig before an open hardwood fire, will be the focus of the dinner with a theme of Three Little Pigs. Chris Noble, executive chef/owner of bluAqua, will use every bit of a 200-pound pig, from nose to tail, in courses named after the building materials used in the children’s tale: hay, sticks and bricks.
The five-course meal will feature three pork courses (the hay, sticks and bricks) as well as a vegetable course and a dessert course. Noble is still playing around with ideas to fill the creative course themes but thinks the hay course will be celery hay, pork belly and a farm egg with a runny yolk.
One item that won’t be one of the courses but will most likely be served is a homemade Louisiana sausage, probably andouille, perhaps served simply as a snack before the meal begins. Noble said he can’t have a pig roasting over a woodfire and not make sausage. 
“Cochon de lait, that’s something I grew up doing,” he said in a phone interview. 
Originally from New Orleans, Noble said it’s quite common to have pig roasts, especially this time of year. 
Other than a couple of cuts like the belly, which needs to be removed because it requires braising and a different cooking technique, and the shoulder (or Boston butt), which requires less time to cook, the entire pig will roast on a wood spit right next to the restaurant’s patio. 
Starting the night before the dinner, Noble will stay out to “babysit” the pig and refill the wood, which for him is the “fun part” because it reminds him of nights spent with his dad, sitting and roasting together. 
His second year of hosting a Farmers Dinner meal, Noble said he’s honored to have the chance to open the new season.
According to Keith Sarasin, owner of the Farmers Dinner, venues are rarely repeated in order to give guests the chance to experience as many as possible, but the draw to bluAqua and Noble’s style was too strong to overlook. 
“Last year we hosted two dinners with bluAqua, and we were in awe of the chef’s creativity, attention to detail and passion for local food,” Sarasin said in a phone interview. “We felt so strongly about kicking it off there so more people could enjoy what the staff and chef are doing over there.”
Sarasin and Noble settled on cochon de lait because of Noble’s New Orleans-inspired menu and Sarasin’s penchant for the benefits of working with a whole pig. 
“It’s a pretty common and traditional way and it’s much better for the farmer,” he said. 
While it can be daunting working with an entire animal, it diminishes waste by eliminating the process of selling a customer one cut from the pig and either having to find someone else to buy the rest or simply throwing it away. 
“We’re going to [talk about] why we're going to eat the whole animal,” Sarasin said. “We want to educate why we went with this and how we came up with the theme in general.”
Looking ahead
For this year of new features and expansion for the Farmers Dinner, held from May to October, Sarasin is excited to build on successful events from previous years as well as increase community outreach and charity efforts. 
Based on the overwhelming success and feedback from last year’s dinner on Main Street in Nashua, the first ever Farmers Dinner Gala on June 21 will welcome 250 people to the Court Street Theater in Nashua. 
“Instead of a sit-down meal, [we’re] going to be doing multiple courses of appetizers with fresh local ingredients,” Sarasin said. 
In partnership with The Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce, Great American Downtown and Celebrations Catering, all of the proceeds from the $35-per-person event will benefit The Organization for Refugee and Immigrant Success, Gate City Community Gardens Inc. and Marguerite’s Place. 
A five-course dinner will be held at Labelle Winery and three dinners will be held at Stages at One Washington (a rarity, Sarasin said) in Dover with chef Evan Hennessey. 
“He’s really changing the culture of what it means to eat in the state,” Sarasin said. 
As seen in the May 21, 2015 issue of the Hippo.

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