The signs were set up along the trail like Burma-Shave signs on the highway: “Cold … Cocktails … Hot … Dinner.”
People followed the path across a dry creek bed and up a rise to find Oxbow Farm, 25 acres in Duvall that Luke Woodwardand Sarah Cassidyhave been working for 14 years — and that they opened to Stewardship Partners for its fourth annual Feast on the Farm on Friday.
The event is not only a summer highlight for the environmentally minded, it’s a major fundraiser for the nonprofit, founded by Chris Bayleyand headed by David Burger. Its work includes a Salmon-Safe certification program that lessens farming’s impact on the environment (Oxbow was the first on the roster); educational programs; and the 12,000 Rain Gardens Campaign that keeps toxins out of regional waters.
Woodward and Cassidy gave wine-toting diners a tour of the farm, which sells produce to some 30 restaurants and includes a children’s garden with a Story Teepee festooned with scarlet runner beans (so if you heard voices from inside, that’s what that was).
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Woodward and Cassidy weren’t staying for dinner, though; the couple were headed home, where two old friends from California had come to renew their wedding vows.
“Maybe we’ll all get remarried,” Cassidy laughed as she and Woodward walked off. (She texted me later; they did.)
Guests took their seats at an L-shaped, white-clothed table designed by Jennie Gruss and set up in the middle of a field. To cook, Hitchcock chef Brendan McGill — named People’s Best New Chef for 2013 by Food & Wine magazine — brought his own grill, wood and trucks full of supplies.
“This suits me perfectly,” said McGill, sporting a porkpie hat and a steady smile. “Cooking outside is a joy.”
The menu was derived from the fresh and local products on hand.
“We just follow the food,” he explained.
So, there were platters of gigandes beans mixed with green tiger and paddy pan squash. That was followed by grilled Washington coast wild salmon with black lentils and baby beets, and platters of smoked Draper Valley chicken with farrow and fava beans.
In between courses, Kate Bayleyran the live auction (it raised $15,000, with still more coming in) and Shelby Earle played from her new album, “Swift Arrows,” released just two days before. Stewardship staffers set up, cleaned up, poured wine and cleared plates.
Chris Bayley urged people to think beyond this night and this place. “Look around you and think about what impact there will be from development,” he said, “and how can we control that? How can we preserve what you see?”
Dinner conversation included what people last grew on their own and ate. Or not.
“An avocado pit in a highball glass,” said Cal McAllister, of the Wexley School for Girls ad agency, with one of his signature smirks. “It was for my girls.”
Caffe Vita partner Bob Princewas all about beans. But not the coffee kind.
“Fava beans, green beans and purple beans that we just picked yesterday,” Prince said of his summer menu. “Steamed ’em. They were … great.”
And McGill? The last thing he grew and ate? A plum from a tree on the 4-acre farm he leases on Bainbridge Island.
“I plucked it off, but it wasn’t ready,” he said. “The rest will need to hang a little longer.”
Caffe Vita owners Michael and Liz McConnell introduced me to their new retail cafe manager, Eric Deane Gordon, who uprooted his New York life and moved to Seattle just 10 days earlier.
“I needed something drastic,” he said, “and was looking for my next crazy thing.”
As the night sky deepened, tipsy diners backtracked along a path lit by votives in Ball jars. At the edge of the parking lot, the troupers were gifted with fresh lettuce and red onions — a strong, sobering shotgunner for the ride home.
Avoiding the crowd
There may have been thousands of people on Broadway last week to watch Macklemore shoot a new video, but Kerri Harrop wasn’t one of them — despite how close she is to the Seattle phenom.
Harrop, who headed the Music for Marriage Equality campaign and urged Macklemore to allow “Same Love” to be the movement’s anthem, passed on joining the throngs that showed up to see “White Walls” filmed at Dick’s Drive-In on Thursday.
“I talked to (Macklemore) earlier in the day and said, ‘I’m not coming. No way.’ ”
Smart girl. What started as top secret that morning had sprung a small leak, and by afternoon the social-media levee broke, flooding Broadway with fans who spent eight hours waiting, watching and capturing every moment on their phones.
“All it takes is one person, and the Internet takes over,” Harrop cracked. “I stayed away from that. I’m a grown woman!”
That doesn’t mean she isn’t proud as punch of her boy.
“I heard him when I was in a supermarket in France!” she said with a shake of her head. “It’s crazy.”
Nicole Brodeur’s column appears Tuesday and Sunday. Reach her at 206-464-2334 or email@example.com.