What’s your idea of a perfect night out?
Mine includes a little adventure, something totally out of the norm. I want an experience. While walking down to Grand and pigging out at any one of the awesome restaurants within blocks of our house is always fun, making plans and changing things up feels more “date-like”. It doesn’t have to be lavish or expensive (although a little splurge isn’t out of the question), just different and exciting.
My perfect evening out starts at a place like this.
This is Claverach Farm.
Over a year ago, I heard about this place and their farm dinners. Heard they were out of this world and worth the drive to Eureka, MO. So a few weeks back I booked our sitter and reserved our seats to give it a go. Our group included my mom, who’s visiting this week, as wells as my aunt and uncle.
We headed west on 44 before transversing two miles of winding, tree lined gravel roads along the Meramec River, passing grape vines and perfect rows of vegetables before a barn came into view. Just seeing it gave me a special feeling, like undoubtedly something incredible was about to happen. Set just beyond an huge, beautiful tree, sits the 100 year old renovated barn where our meal and many drinks were served to the tunes of live bluegrass. Sunlight streamed through the open windows, the smell of the wood burning stove churning out delicate flat breads filled the space, and the sound of roosters crowing set the scene.
Our evening started with cocktails, crudité, and a guided tour of the closest gardens. Luckily the heat dialed down a bit just in time to make the walk pleasant. What a treat to look out a field from which, just that day, your dinner was picked. We spotted bunnies, peacocks, chickens, and a deer—just in case we didn’t believe this was the country.
The farm is worked by just a few people, all day, every day. And it’s impeccable. The same few people run the dinners, everything from hosting, to touring, to cooking. Hearing about the working of a 300 acre farm (especially when it’s been sweltering outside) was pretty intimidating, I’m happy when we get a few cherry tomatoes and some basil from our yard each year. I could have listened to stories about soil and lyme and wine grapes all evening…if I wasn’t so excited to eat dinner.
Everything was delicious, from the simple, lightly pickled pink beets to the main course smoked pork shoulder with summer ratatouille. Dinner was an all-evening affair, served at a pace that felt special, each course leaving us with the urge to lick our plates. The food inspired plenty of food-related conversations about our favorite St. Louis dining experiences, with our own group and the next group seated at our community-style table who, in true STL style, are practically our neighbors in the city. We consumed several liters of the farm’s own refreshing rosé. Before we knew it the sky was dark and candles sparkled as our buttermilk panna cotta was delivered.
My favorite part of dinners like this is that I make no decisions, I just enjoy what the chef considers to be his best meal. How could anyone ask for more in a dining experience?! No questioning your choice, no wishing you’d ordered what your neighbor is devouring. Just a passionate cook feeding people amazing food.
We had anticipated this night for over a month and were already planning our next visit within 20 minutes of our arrival, since it’s a little like being invited to someone’s incredible country house for the evening, especially for us city dwellers. It’s a perfect date night, a wonderful family gathering place, or a really fun night out with friends.
Have you been to Claverach Farm or something like it? If not, I think it’s clear that I highly recommend it. They are apparently serving these dinners nearly year-round now, so if you need a little escape featuring yummy food in a gorgeous setting, this is the place.
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The past seven days have felt like years that go by in a wink. If that makes any sense.
Ethan is in part time camp again, leaving Finn and I meandering through our nap-filled days. Finn is squirming and semi-crawling all over the place, pulling up on furniture and trying in every way possible to bash his head against surfaces (succeeding at least a few times a day), requiring my full attention every minute. Unless he’s eating, in which case he’s quarantined to his high chair and will delightfully feed himself small pieces of food for an hour.
The evenings, usually spent making and eating dinner in front of the TV with Stu followed by hours of productivity time, have been cut short by sleepiness…I can’t keep my eyes open. I’m lucky if I can make it till 10pm when I fit in my extra pump before struggling to read no more than several pages in my ridiculously funny guilty pleasure book as my eyes close. At least once a week Stu stop to grab food from our new (no really, it’s brand new) favorite take-out spot in Fox Park—get the rice paper wrap with brown rice, chicken, and spicy sesame sauce…I’ll dream about it tonight.
I blame my tiredness on a lack of a regular schedule.
Add to our anti-schedule the constant rain and/or extreme heat and our days are really a mess. I usually like to plan things out a few days ahead but this week it’s more of a pick up Ethan at 3pm and announce, “how about the Magic House?” with a quick stop for a frozen lemonade. I don’t do 100 degrees (apparently it “felt like” 110). Prior to the heat I was juggling an umbrella plus baby plus diaper bag plus three other things Ethan refused to help me carry. Is it too much to ask for 70 and sunny? At least we’re getting to the pool now (when it’s not broken and/or under massive construction). When it’s too hot we stick to the playroom.
I’ve started listening to a new (aka I just heard about it but it’s been around for five years) podcast while walking/running/driving that turned me on to a new Amazon Prime show. Catastrophe is totally unassuming but laugh-out-loud hilarious and wickedly smart. Two actors no where near my radar, Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney, are so freaking funny…just watch. It’s free if you are a Prime member (and if you aren’t a Prime member, we should talk…you need to be) and the perfect feel-good show that has, thankfully, been picked up for a second season.
I’m planning a baby shower for my adorable friend Lauren who’s having a GIRL! I am in love with the theme, narwhals. Seriously adorable. I’ll be making at least one thing from this new-to-me fantastic food/stay-at-home-dad blog for the shower…probably the avocado potato salad that has me a droolin’. And I’m working on our family album because darn if I’m not even more behind than usual due to our anti-downtime summer vacation. I blame Finn. Good thing he’s not sensitive about these kinds of things.
My mom is headed into town for a visit, because it’s been over a week since we’ve seen her so the kids are ready (ready is an understatement, Ethan asks once a minute “is grandma on her way?”). I’m also trying to figure out why we need to try this incredible new doohickey. Impromptu neighborhood water balloon fight? Just a Friday afternoon? I’ve seen this video on Facebook, the thing actually works!
Ok it’s officially 2:30pm so I’m off to wake the babe (HATE!) so we are on time for camp pick up and an afternoon dip at the pool. But I actually won’t post this until I’ve read through at least once more so you’ll probably get it around midnight…I know you’ve been holding your breath (not). Whatever, it’s up. I’ve accomplished something.