The Hippo


Jun 2, 2020








Farmer from Kimball Farm in Hollis speaks between courses. Photo by Matthew Lomanno.

The Farmers Dinner Wild Night 2014

When: Sunday, Nov. 9. Seatings at 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Where: blu Aqua Restaurant & Bar, Salzburg Square, 292 Route 101 Amherst
Tickets: $99 
Gluten-free, vegetarian and special dietary options available. Email before the meal to alert the staff.

We’ve got game
Locally-sourced dinner highlights state’s wild game

By Allie Ginwala

Carnivores and locavores alike will delight at the chance to feast on New Hampshire game at Wild Night 2014. The Farmers Dinner and blu Aqua Restaurant & Bar host the final Farmers Dinner of the season on Sunday, Nov. 9, at 4 and 7:30 p.m. The five-course meal will feature venison, New Zealand rabbit, ring-necked pheasant, wild mushrooms and pumpkin, all sourced from New Hampshire farms. 

Christopher Noble, executive chef owner of blu Aqua, is no stranger to cooking wild game. The restaurants’ menu has previously boasted ostrich, emu and alligator and currently serves wild boar chop and snapping turtle soup. 
“It actually brings me back to my childhood,” said Noble, who grew up in New Orleans hunting and eating wild game with his father. “I’m excited to be able to bring it up a notch and do it at an upscale level.” 
“[The game] is all part of New Hampshire wildlife, and this gives exposure to that,” said Keith Sarasin, founder of The Farmers Dinner. 
He was inspired to start the locally focused dinner in 2012 after hearing farmers’ stories. 
“I learned quickly that [farmers] have remarkable stories; they’re ingrained in the fabric of the community,” Sarasin said.
Each dinner uses ingredients from within a 30- to 50-mile radius of the event location, Sarasin said. He purchased the venison from Bonnie Brae Farm in Plymouth and the rabbit and pheasant from Rickety Ranch in Hollis. 
The collaboration between The Farmers Dinner and the host restaurant is open, said Sarasin, who only provides gentle guidance if necessary. 
“We basically say, ‘Here’s what’s in season,’ and let the chefs do their work.” 
Noble appreciates the creative freedom, abiding by no rules except those imposed by Mother Nature. “The only issue is with the weather — who knows what November will look like,” he said. 
Some of the planned accoutrements may change, but Noble and his sous chef welcome a “surprise basket” from the farmers on the day of the dinner. 
To add another twist, Wild Night will have a molecular gastronomy spin. Noble wants to maintain a “shock factor” for the dinner, but revealed that among the courses you’ll find sous vide ring-necked pheasant (Sous vide is a French term for food cooked in a vacuum), root beer-braised venison and pumpkin spherification, a molecular gastronomy technique that creates a chemical reaction in a juice or puree that makes the outside a gel and the inside a liquid. As for dessert, he’s toying with a liquid popcorn caramel shooter and a “not your mama’s” fruit cake.
This marks the end of the Farmers Dinner season, which runs May to November, so there will be extra activities like produce and bread basket giveaways, a large raffle, and a special tasting from Djinn Spirits, whose new spiced honey liqueur Krupnik uses honey from Amherst.
“We try to make it an event, not just a dinner,” Sarasin said. 
To close the night, each guest gets a recipe card of one of the night’s dishes from the chef, a signature of all Farmers Dinners. Since most people aren’t equipped to do molecular gastronomy in their home kitchens, Noble is leaning toward the dessert recipe. However, he’s happy to hand out trickier recipes too. 
“I leave it open to people. If someone wants recipes for certain dishes, I’ll give it to them,” he said. 
As seen in the October 30, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

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