The Farm to Fork Picnic, put on by the Center for Environmental Farming Systems, has taken place for in Raleigh for many years. This year, the Piedmont Culinary Guild (PCG) brought the event to Charlotte on the stunning grounds of the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden. PCG’s Executive Director Kris Reid brought together over twenty local chefs and purveyors to showcase our region’s unique ingredients and flavors. This year’s event was held on September 23rd, and tickets were $85 for adults, $50 for young adults (1-20), and children under 12 got in free. We were so excited to receive tickets in order to share the bounty with our readers. We are sure that Farm to Fork in the Garden will be held again next year due to its success, so read on to see what you can expect!
Everyone received the most adorable wooden spork upon arrival, and you were instructed to keep your fork for the entire event. This is the one thing we weren’t crazy about. Although we understood and appreciated it from a conservation standpoint, the fork got pretty dirty after a few dishes, and because of this, you wouldn’t want to throw it in your purse or your pocket, so it got a bit cumbersome to carry around a drink, the spork, the map, etc. Also, I threw mine away after the first dish, because I am terrible person and a creature of habit. Luckily, they gave me another one.
All of the chefs partnered with local farms for their dish’s main ingredient. Here are the dishes we sampled, though there were many more we didn’t get to try––we were positively stuffed!
Urban Gourmet mushroom fritters with smoked mushroom gravy
One of only a handful of vegetarian options. This dish was savory and tasty. We’ve not yet tried this restaurant, and this certainly made us interested to go check it out soon!
Kale-stuffed chicken breast medallion with fig jam, apple slaw, pickled radish, and shaved smoked egg yolk
The smoked egg yolk was awesome, but the chicken breast was a bit tough and bland, as chicken breast can tend to be, unfortunately.
Rocky River Farms conchiglie a la bolognese
This dish wasn’t a looker, but it was so freaking delicious.
Pine Island Country Club
The farm at Flat Creek pork belly with Cheerwine, boiled peanut relish, pickled slaw, dry rub, garnish
We adored this pork belly. So flavorful!
Clearview Farms fried chicken with charred chile jam and roasted Kabocha puree
This was a major crowd favorite. How could fried chicken be bad?
Thai-pickled NC shrimp with Friendship Gardens baby bok choy, radish kimchi, and Asian-style boiled California runner peanut hummus
This was our favorite dish, and Southminster is actually a retirement home! Jason and I immediately inquired if we could get on the list. Hey, we’re getting very tired, and retirement is way too far away. Let’s all rest and eat Forte’s food for the rest of our days. Amen.
Queen City Market
Smoked Underwood Farms mojo pork with arepa de choclo, housemade queso blanco, peach mostarda, tomato caramel
The pork was cooked perfectly, and the flavors were outstanding. Another big crowd hit.
Sweet Lew’s Barbecue
Smoked J&J Farms honey and Hickory Hills milk panna cotta with J&J lemongrass jam and farm flowers
This was my favorite dish of the event. They actually smoked the honey in a smoker! So cool.
Sweet Lew’s just opened the other week, and they have been regularly selling out of BBQ. We can’t wait to get out and try their meat offerings.
Peters himself was slinging punch, and we chatted with him about what he’s up to. He’s been consulting with restaurants all over the region on their cocktail programs, and he seems to be living his best life. He continues to make the best punch in the game.
Olivia Wolff & Lauren Miller
No picture of cute Olivia, who was serving up delicious kombucha. Did you listen to Olivia’s guest appearance on the Scallionpancake podcast?! She’s just the best human ever. The end.
Half of Scallionpancake had never visited Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens, and the other half was their for Cousin Amy’s wedding! What an absolutely stunning venue for a wedding or a food event. It was a hot day, but we had some rain just before our arrival that cooled it off. There was live music, face painting for the kiddos, and, of course, so many beautiful flowers and plants!
Farm to Table Hospitality:
The hospitality was extra great, as in most cases it was the actual chefs who were serving up their dishes! That personal touch made the event extra special and more than worth the cost of admission.
We hope that our unabashed love of Kato didn’t scare him back to Illinois; I cannot be trusted to re-use a spork 20+ times; I wonder what Winnie the Pooh would think about smoked honey; I wish that I could have attended Cousin Amy’s wedding, but I was just a glimmer in Jason’s eye then; If you think we wouldn’t move into a retirement home just for the food at age 32, then you clearly don’t know us at all.
Disclaimer: This meal was provided free of charge in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. All opinions are our own, and we were not compensated for this review.