The Autumn Table is an all heirloom dinner presented every year at Gedney
Farm on the first or second Sunday in November. The "farm" consists
of two restored Normandy style barns one of which now serve as a banquet
hall and is part of the Old Inn on the Green.
The dinner is a five or six course meal plus hors d'oeuvres prepared by
several of the best chefs in the Berkshire region. And the best chefs
in the Berkshires can hold their own in a big city.
The meal is composed entirely of heirloom varieties including heirloom
and fruits. Some of the varieties used are extremely rare, some more widely
available. The purpose of the meal is to celebrate the harvest and bring
together rare foods with great chef talent and see what results. It is
a fundraiser for the organization. Each dinner consists of three or four
chefs preparing one or more dishes. Featured chefs are usually the
executive chefs of Wheatleigh, The Old Inn on the Green, John Andrews
Verdura. The chefs consult with each other and then each goes their own
picking out available ingredients to construct their meal. When it comes
the night of the dinner each chef joins with the others in a unusual
collaboration of prepping, cooking and plating,
Of course the dinner ultimately requires months of planning beginning
the selection of seed for varieties the Conservancy will grow for the
the dozens of hours searching out sources of other products such as heirloom
meat, or coordinating the numerous components of the dinner. In 2000
eighteen different purveyors were utilized not including standard ingredients
acquired through the chefs' kitchens and own purveyors.
The meal is open to the public but available places usually get snapped
just through the invitation list and word of mouth. This past year (2000)
was a complete sell-out. As one enters the great barn you notice the simple
new England feel of the barn--spacious but warm, with the old beams and
planks barely touched by restoration.
In front of you is a long harvest
table filled with the seasons harvest which consists of a bountiful display
of heirloom squashes, potatoes, cabbages, leeks, garlics, gourds, leaves
kale, dried ornamentals such as wheat, eggplants or artichokes and more.
This display is lovingly put together by two floral designers, Barbara
Bockbrader and Pamela Hardcastle. They also decorate the tables in a
similar fall theme. As you walk further into the barn you notice arching
above you strapping saplings of beech or other trees secured to the posts
throughout the barn creating a decidedly autumnal and outdoor feeling
inside the space.
Passing by the table to the lower level you are greeted by serving staff
presenting you with a taste of Westport Rivers Champagne, a Massachusetts
sparkling wine which is one of the best American champagnes though perhaps
not quite equal to some of France's products.
Numerous types of hors d'oeuvres are passed around such as a Golden Bantam
Corn salsa with Bulgarian #5 roasted peppers and Cossack pineapple ground
cherries, or Tamworth Pork Sausage with a confit of Georgia Fire garlic,
or an Iroquois Cranberry bean humus, a Tuscarora corn fritter with an
Sauce or an heirloom egg custard with truffle.
The cheese board is always a big hit with the crowd of dairy fanatics
hang around the edges of the table for a third or fourth sampling..
Cheeses are usually regional in origin and include such delectables as
Berkshire Blue Cheese, a rich creamy blue made Jersey milk originating
Highlawn Farm in Lenox, MA or from Vermont, - Lazy Lady Cheavrealait,
Vermont Bonne-bouche (an ash ripened goat cheese from Vermont Butter and
Cheese), Willow Hill Farm Organic Sheep Cheese, or a simple fresh gouda
Taylor Farm. And from just across the Massachusetts border in New York
are cheeses from Old Chatham Sheepherding Company including Nancy's Hudson
Valley Camembert and Shepherd's Wheel, unique for their use of sheep's
milk, while further down the Hudson Valley a Peekskill Pyramid or a Muscoot
from Egg Farm Dairy may also be featured.
With much bell ringing and cajoling the crowd is ushered upstairs and
themselves at their assigned tables. The crowd is abuzz with talk of food
and wine and the din only increases as people pick up the menus at their
seats and marvel at the long descriptions of each course. Tables are set
formally and the glasses and silverware glitter in the light. As each
is being served the Director of the Conservancy gives a brief history
of the more significant components of each dish while the Chef for the
talks about about the ingredients. What went into the preparation or what
they thought A number of different wine selections from around the world
are poured sequentially throughout the dinner
In year 2000 the meal started with Peter Platt(Wheatleigh) presenting
icious but simple soup composed of pureed Guernsey parsnip and Long Orange
carrots in a chicken-cream stock, magically presented in two adjoining
halves one white the other orange.
This was followed by Bill Webber's (Verdura) delicate pillows of gnocchi
made from Green Mountain and Kennebec potatoes served with roasted Long
Island Milk Pumpkin, Chicago Warted Hubbard and Dwarf Scotch Curled Kale
with a sage brown butter made from fresh Jersey cream.
The first entree was Chef Dan Jeff Waite's (Old Inn on the Green) turkey
breast made from Grey slate and Red Bourbons with rice Kamut and several
kinds of heirloom beans accompanied by a January King Winter Savoy and
Drumhead cabbage braised in Baldwin apple cider along with rare leeks
Rhode Island Greening apples. While the turkey meat was wonderful the
meet from these turkeys is really fabulous--reminiscent of duck.
If this wasn't enough Dan Smith (John Andrews) made an excellent roast
Tamworth pork with wonderful interpretation of a risotto made from Black
Quinoa with Golden Oblong pumpkin and a more or less traditional Georgia
collard greens with some smokey and meaty Tamworth bacon along with Prize
Taker yellow onions. To top off Dan's dish there was a marmalde of Red
Wethersfield Onions and a jus of heirloom tomato wine and candied Garden
Peach tomatoes. The tomato wine was made by the Clinton vineyards in
association with the Conservancy as part of our Heirloom Tomato Field
Project. the wine seems most suited to cooking, bringing a new flavor
cooking repertoire and ideally suited for pork, fish and salads.
A salad course finished off the savory food with crostini, cooked heirloom
apples, a thyme and riesling vinagrette, Equinox Farm mini mesclun, Monterey
Chevre, --from just down the road from Gedney, and liberal sprinkling
As a finale Shirl Garde, the very talented pastry chef at Wheatleigh,
pear tart to die for with a heavenly butter crust utilizing pears such
Flemish Beauty, Dumont and Clyde, with a plum sauce and syrup from several
plum varieties including French Damson and French petit.
To get even hungrier look at the menus from 1988 and 1999.
Menus from all the Autumn Table dinners will be posted they become available.
In 2002 the dinner will take place on November 10. Seatings will cost
Please send a check to the Conservancy to reserve a place.
Confirmation of reservations will occur by phone.
The Old Inn on the Green and Gedney Farm
The Autumn Table
presented by Eastern Native Seed Conservancy
November 10, 2002
Quince and Goat Cheese Tartlets//Truffled Pink Banana Squash Soup with
Sage Croutons//Crispy Khaki Campbell Duck Confit with Port Braised
Shallots//Berkshire Blue Cheese Shortbread Leaves with Wild Concord Grape
Chutney// Heirloom Russian Watermelon with Salmon Roe//
Kerr's Pink Potato Chips Gufrette with Totman Jerusalem Artichokes,
Parmigiana Reggiano and Toasted Pumpkin Seed Powder
Tom Lee Bill Webber-Verdura
Cheeses Of New England Farmsteads and Continental Heirlooms
Potage of Carlotta Potatoes with American Broadflag and Grobensky Leeks
Jeffrey Waite-Old Inn on the Green
"Pasta Fagioli" Pekin Duck and New Marlborough Red Jerusalem
Ravioli, Red Flageolot Beans, confit of Red Russian Garlic, Red Russian
with Old Chatham Sheepherding Ricotta.
Ralph Fiegal Sous Chef & Dan Smith-John Andrews
Roast breast and Braised Thigh of Gascon rooster with a Roasted Hancock
Shaker Village Vegetable Risotto of Carnaroli Rice, Oxheart Carrot, Hamburg
parsley Root, Early Blood Turnip Beet, American Purple Top Rutabaga and
Peter Platt-Old Inn on the Green
Artisan Pavee d'Auge Cheese with Equinox Heirloom Microgreens and Wild
Individual Quince Tart Tatin with Pomegranite Glaze
Saffron Basmati Rice Pudding with Delicata Squash, Golden Raisins and
Bittersweet Chocolate & Passion Fruit Napoleans
Megan Moore-Moore Fine Food
Route 57 New Marlborough Masssachusetts 413-229-3131
NATIVE SEED CONSERVANCY
Barrington, Massachusetts 01230