Summer Solstice

“As the sun spirals its longest dance, cleanse us.

As Nature shows bounty and fertility, bless us. 

Let all things live with loving intent.

And, to fulfill their truest destiny.”

-Blessing for the Summer Solstice

 

Every Sunday Supper poses its own very unique obstacles, both physical and hypothetical. It is no coincidence that this Supper, was no exception. 

Pleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleaseplease.....(crosses fingers...AND toes).....This, is me on Sunday Morning, June 24, 2018, squinting at my iPhone screen as though any of this liturgy actually manifests a different result; I slowly opened The Weather Channel App. “50%.” It’s times like these that I wish I was the operator of a weather app. I’d be a real dick, 49% chance of precipitation when I know damn well it’s just going to pass..40% gives too much hope, while 52% is Plan B worthy. Yeah, I’d hover right in that sweet spot every single day, just so that all of my users could never actually commit to a logical decision. 

At 11:02am, Derrick from A1 Party and Event Rentals and I met at Logboat Brewing Company to begin preparations for the Sunday Supper to come. While we’d spent the last month planning every detail of a visually immersive dining experience, Missouri weather swooped in like the banshee that she is, heralding death over every outdoor event. So, with hung jury and wounded ego we made the decision to move our Supper inside.

Credit to our compulsive-level planning, we had a “Plan B.” Our only obstacle, were 60 sun-loving and beer-guzzling Columbians, enjoying their favorite Sunday pastime. Our friends at Logboat Brewing agreed to close the tasting room an hour early at 5:00pm so that we would have time to transform the space from its usual ambiance, to a 100 seat communal table restaurant. I remember checking, and then double-checking my timeline..in what world did I think that an hour and a half was enough time to execute our vision? I’m supposed to be the pragmatist. The following, is how our day unfolded. (The hours of 11:03am-5:12pm have been omitted for lack of time and potential tollerance of inevitable vulgarity).

At 5:13pm, the last public guest exited the doors of the tasting room. We immediately locked all doors, and all 11 staff members swung into action. John, Cooper, the Sarahs, Brandon, and our Lead FOH beast Justin began a coreographed dining room transformation reminiscent of an off-Broadway community theatre rendition of Swan Lake, inspired by The Elaine Dance. Perhaps “organized chaos” is a more relatable image, but the Swan Lake fusion is entirely more accurate.

By 5:45pm, tables both upstairs and down were set and ready, and the staff had begun laying out the Butcher Board mise-en-place courtesy of Ben Parks and Josh Smith of Barred Owl Butcher and Table. Pork Rillettes, Hot Soppressata, and a Cured Mulefoot Hog Ham. House made pickles, cured olives, and a fresh baked baguette made by Barred Owl’s own Tim Eisenhower. Growlers and Cans of Logboat Brewing Company’s finest brews lined the tables, as this Sunday Supper was all about self serving. Our guest’s places were set minimully with a plate and single glass. Diners were encouraged to break bread, both literally and figuratively, with old friends and new. Each course would be “plated” directly onto the banana leaf lined table in front of them, and it would be their responsibility to keep the finger licking to an acceptable minimum. 

It’s 6:18pm, and Frances, Barred Owl’s mixologist extraordinaire and pop-up guru herself, is putting the finishing touches on her cocktail for the evening. It would’t be a true Barred Owl colaboration without a proper cocktail. Three days earlier, we received a delicious batch of Mulberries from our friends at The Sage Garden , and we decided that they’d make a killer shrub. Frances combined the mulberries with some fresh blueberries, basil, lavender, honey, and lemon into a mash that developed over the next few days. She finished the mash with Gin, Hawaiian Black Salt, and a fresh Herb bruleed lemon. We called it the Traveling Mulberry.

6:30pm and the doors opened. Our guests grabbed their Traveling Mulberry and quickly choose their seats. This evening had many large groups, so we set 2 long communal tables upstairs, with a 10-seat banquette and Logboat’s own 10-top family table. Downstairs, we sat 16 all down the bar, with a 6-top and a long 20 person communal bar-height table. I doubt there are many reading this that haven’t seen the inside of Logboat’s Tasting Room, but it is designed perfectly for a dual-level event. With an open ceiling, diners upstairs and down can hear the bustle and rustle that fueled the evening’s energy. A Soundtrack by our Aural Aesthetician marauded every empty space from ear-to-ear. Hurriedly, our diners began their figuratively-literal breaking of bread.

Circle back to 6:29pm.. Before unlocking the doors and releasing the masses into our little non-pop-up, our diners were dictated a small list of expectations. They first were asked to remember that we are all family. With communal seating, it is important to communicate with other guests to ensure that all of your group can sit together. Our guests were also informed that the evening’s offerings would not be divided into “courses.” The tables were already set with Barred Owl’s Butcher Board goodies, and the remaining dishes would be brought out in a  barrage; one after the other. The following timeline, is a chronological regaling of what followed.

7:00pm Three Creeks Farm Confit Fennel Provaleta with Tim Eisenhower’s Olive Focaccia. This dish was the brainchild of Anthony Schmidt, the Chef at Blue Bell Farm. Whole rounds of Provolone cheese were rubbed with dried fennel fronds and dried chiles, the placed on racks to dry for 4 days. Each round is then seared in a cast iron skillet and then flipped, adding the confit fennel for service. The top resembles the crackly topping of a freshly torched creme brulee, but cheesy...so cheesy. Drizzled with Fennel Oil and served with torn Olive Focaccia, this was a midwest delicacy. 

7:15pm Three Creeks Farm Spring Onions, charred over a live fire, wrapped in butcher paper, and served along-side a bowl of Amanda Eliott’s romesco. Guests opened the butcher paper packages, releasing a mixture of steam and spring onion vapor that permeated every crevasse of our space. The delicious stench paired perfectly with the primal act of hand-dipping and chomping that ensued. 

7:30pm Barred Owl’s Twice Cooked Pork Tostones with an insane Sweet Onion Habanero Hot Sauce. Ben and Josh slow braised the pork shoulder for hours, then chilled it in it’s juices. Cubes of this unctuous meat were cut and flash fried for service, and served along side twice fried plantains and a little glass jar of bright orange hotness. This “simple” dish presented the perfect amalgam of bad....and boujee. 

7:45pm Brought the debatable star of the evening. Squid bodies stuffed with a Thai-style fermented rice sausage. The stuffed bodies were then skewered and roasted over a live fire, delivered to each table. As each server removed them from the skewer, Amanda and I went table to table with a jar of Nam Prik and a vessel of Stem to Table’s Micro Tatsoi. As we spooned the spicy thai sauce over each squid, we informed our guests of the timeless socially acceptable procedure for consuming such food...”eat it like a jalapeno popper.” Cause, we keep it classy.

8:00pm The Scape Goat. We took Sullivan Farm’s goat, wrapped it in Mangalitsa Lardo, and skewered it in traditional Kabobi fashion. The skewers were smoked over apple wood for 4 hours, brushed with a Sullivan Farm Garlic Scape pesto, and roasted over smouldering coals. Finished with another schmear of Scape pesto and a stiff pour of finishing salt, they too were hand-delivered to each table and removed all at once by each server. We served the Scape Goat with a Three Creeks Golden Beet Slaw with sweet pickled raisins, and a melon and cucumbers from The Sage Garden and Three Creeks, tossed with herbed yogurt and caraway seeds. The hours and hours of labor that led up to the execution of this dish were slightly overshadowed by the numerous primally-intimate groans that emanated throughout the room.  

8:15pm The barrage culminated with our last and final dish, a Dump Cake. That’s right, I said it, a Dump Cake...kind of. Ben Parks made a classic angel food cake, and we tore it into pieces, layered it on a plate with sweet pickled mulberries from The Sage Garden, and a sweet corn cream. Sweet, salty, sour, bitter, hands, fingers, face, mouth, stomach. In no particular order..

8:30pm. We have grown fond of our tradition of the take-home gift. This time, we had a secret guest..Hempsley. “Born in prohibition Missouri and designed specifically for Midwestern lifestyles, Hempsley is a living collection of information about holistic wellness techniques.” Kristen Williams, Founder and CEO, had this to say..”This was such a fun concept that we decided to come up with a completely new herbal blend to honor the flavors that would be used in the dinner as well as the lore behind the idea. We wanted to use herbs that would inspire reflection and celebration to help guests welcome in this new Summer Solstice season of their lives.” Our mutual goal, was to give our guests something to remind them not only of the meal, but of the truest experience of the Summer Solstice. Click HERE to see what all Hempsly had to say about this custom blend.

8:39pm was the final benchmark on our carefully constructed timeline. Sunset. Thanks were given, and gratitude was offered. We could not have executed this evening without the help of so many people, and that is where our story begins AND ends. The most unexpected benefit of the Sunday Supper Series, has been the outreach from our community of cook/chef friends. We have had so many reach out in interest that it has solidified our belief in our community of friends. Devin Angston of Barred Owl came by on his own time simply to lend a hand, drink a beer, and share an experience. Tim Eisenhower hung out all night, watching diners devour his hard work. Jess Bowman, the Chef of Cafe Berlin came by just for fun, to turn some skewers, stoke a fire, and share a story. Drew Piester stood behind his lense as he so masterfully does, joined by his equally tallented friend Emily Sewell. Sam Brantham of Logboat Brewing hung out and kept everyone topped off with their finest brews. Each person a professional at their craft, but not one person in competition with the other. For us, it was a feeling we won’t soon forget.

11:something..pm We all stood around debriefing the night’s happenings, and shared a communal appreciation for what we’d just experienced. Columbia is an exciting place to be as a cook, and we are all thankful to be a part of it. This, was our Summer Solstice.

 

“As the sun spirals its longest dance, cleanse us. 

As Nature shows bounty and fertility, bless us. 

Let all things live with loving intent.

And, to fulfill their truest destiny.”

-Blessing for the Summer Solstice

Benjamin Hamrah