Summer is in full swing, but in harvest terms, it’s still spring. And the team at Spice Acres inside the Cuyahoga National Park is ready to show off their bounty. We attended the first Plated Landscape Dinner at the Farmhouse home of Chef Ben Bebenroth (of Spice Kitchen and Bar) and his family. What a treat! It was such a charming setting surrounded by beautiful fields and fitting farmhouse details.
We were greeted by staff from the restaurant, with passed appetizers and a refreshing elderberry cocktail.
Then we got a guided tour around the property from Andrea, a trusted caretaker of the land. We walked through fields of chamomile, red veined leafy greens, purple asparagus and climbing hops.
Then we migrated to the shabby chic surroundings of the rehabbed barn across the street from the fields. Long communal tables were set with an enticing menu and thoughtful wine pairings.
We were treated to the bright bounty of Spice Acres. Five courses of beautifully prepared plates, starting with a chilled pea soup with scape and fennel, paired with Jeio Cuvée Rose, which was crisp and refreshing. It was a great way to open up our palates. Course two featured some of those lovely greens we saw in the fields, dressed with crab apple vinaigrette, pickled blueberries and chile roasted pistachios (my favorite element of the dish), and paired with Marie de Beauregard Vouvray which had a nice sweet finish. Our third course, Verlasso Salmon, utilized the lovely chamomile from the field. It was smoked, along with cucumber, fennel and beet. I loved the smoked chamomile for a light smokey flavor, not at all overpowering the seared fish. The Spice team poured Becker Pinor Noir with this dish.
The final savory course was a Spice Bush + Honey Confit Duck Breast with braised endive and strawberry gastritis for a sweet and tart component to the delicious duck. The wine pairing for this dish was my favorite, a perfectly dry Pecchenino San Luigui Fogliami Dolcetto. And for dessert, there was a Wild Chamomile Mousse with lemon curd berries with kamut shortbread and bee pollen, paired with a Von Wilhelm Spatlese Reisling. It was light, sweet and satisfying.
You can also experience this kind of farm to table evening through the Plated Landscape Series. There are several more dinners like these throughout his the summer and deep into the fall. Head to Eventbrite‘s Plated Landscape page for event information and tickets.