New American Bacchanal


 Drew and Holly are a force to be reckoned with in their small community in Northern California.  When they asked me to cook for their 2nd annual Farm Party on their 7 acre farm, I was stoked.

It had been a particularly wet and cold Winter and we were all excited to create our ideal gathering to celebrate the brief moderation of Spring before the impending hundred degree temperatures of Summer.  This would be a dialectic of fine dining, rustic atmosphere and honky tonk music.  

As we began planning the dinner in February, Holly and Drew planted the vegetables that would be used and harvested for the menu.  Holly is a talented ceramicist and set to hand making ALL of the dishware for what ended up being a 40 person prix fixe meal and hired the Jesse Daniels Band to perform after dinner.

When I began designing the menu I wanted the meal to be a celebration of Spring; I wanted bright colors and fresh flavors.  I started listening to the Stravinsky suite The Rite of Spring, all of which rotated around the mystery and creative power of season and traditional pagan ritual.  I also took inspiration from Tom Robbins’ Jitterbug Perfume, the jaunty, playful epic revolving around the Beet (and the demigod Pan) and the cooking style of Francis Mallman.  As a result I approached the menu with a Greek bend with the goal of having a sort of New American Bacchanal: soaked in wine, decadence and dance. 

The resulting party did not disappoint. With a welcome cocktail of Rosemary Infused Mezcal Sour by Drew, dinner, and music, our cups did runneth over.

The meal began with Roasted Beet and Ginger Soup with coconut crème fraîche and garnished with fresh cilantro and lime.  The soup was followed Blood Orange and Fennel Salad garnished with fresh sweet peas and a bouquet of edible flowers. The main was sliced Fire Roasted Leg of Lamb with Tzatziki and Sweet Pea Mint Sauce served over Wild Mushroom and Miso Polenta.  For the vegetarians, I substituted the Lamb with Braised Celery Root and garnished with sauteed wild mushrooms. The dessert was a 70% Brownie (from Dandelion Chocolate’s book, Making Chocolate) and garnished with cocoa nibs served with a coffee infused whiskey flip served in 4oz mason jars.

With a crack team of passionate amateurs, the dinner was served seamlessly, much wine was drunk and merriment was had.  I think Dionysus was satisfied.  

I’d like to thank everyone that helped out and everyone that attended to make this a night to remember.

If you’re interested in enjoying a slice of farm life check out Holly and Drew’s 1910 Farmhouse.


Holly hails from rural Pennsylvania, studied Art in Portland, worked at the Pratt Institute in Ceramics and currently is the Director of Admissions for the Oxbow School in Napa.  Drew comes from Iowa farm roots and was raised in California Gold Country. He is a musician, former firefighter, helicopter paramedic, motorcycle mechanic and general craftsman. Together they have they have remodeled a small cottage on their property in Placer County into an Air BnB and have used it as a platform for their passion for hospitality.  To be brief; these two do everything.