Farm to Table dinner series kicks off Thursday


Executive chef Colin Sheehan uses local produce and eggs to prepare vegetable frittatas for patrons dining at the Sweetwater Branch Inn, Thursday, January 17, 2013 in Gainesville, Fla.

Erica Brough/Staff Photographer
Published: Saturday, January 19, 2013 at 8:58 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 19, 2013 at 8:58 p.m.

The movement to consume locally grown foods is on the rise, and one local bed and breakfast has partnered with a downtown restaurant to host a series of "progressive dinners" that begins Thursday.

"We want to bring awareness about local food and support local farmers and enjoy the benefits of good, fresh food," said Cornelia Holbrook, owner of the Sweetwater Branch Inn.

The term progressive dinner refers to the sharing of locations for different courses of the meals. Diners will be served the appetizer, main course and wine at Sweetwater, then take an optional shuttle to the Fat Tuscan Cafe for dessert, coffee and fruit, said Michelle Gioviti-Reeves, the owner of the Fat Tuscan, 725 NE First St.

Visitors to the Fat Tuscan won't see eggplant or veal parmesan on the menu unless it's a special, Gioviti-Reeves said.

"Our premise is that we cook in the style of the Tuscans, which is they always cook fresh, they always cook trying to use local products and they always cook from scratch," she said.

The Farm to Table Progressive Dinner Series costs $80 per person and includes five courses, a wine pairing with every course, tax and tip.

The last day to sign up for each dinner is the day of, but Holbrook encourages people to reserve space early, as the cap for each event is 30 people. The dinner starts at 6:30 p.m. and ends at 9:30 p.m. The other three dinners are Feb. 28, March 21 and April 18.

Holbrook said she first began incorporating organic foods into meals offered at the inn when it participated in the downtown farmer's market three years ago. Today, Holbrook is a regular, selling her foccacia bread, mozzarella, marinara sauce, vegan cookies and banana bread.

"We really want (the visitors) to take away the enjoyment and say ‘Wow, fresh food really does taste different,'?" said Holbrook.

There will also be a presenter discussing various aspects of local food, like organic distribution and sustainability, during the appetizer portion so diners come away with a greater understanding of fresh food, Holbrook said.

The menu is not set until the day of the dinner because it isn't put together until the Wednesday night before, she added. The fruits and vegetables come from more than one farm across the area, the beef is provided by the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, seafood is bought at Southern Cross Sea Farms in Cedar Key, and the poultry is provided by the inn.

Gioviti-Reeves said the desserts' ingredients are chosen from the downtown farmer's market the night before the dinner, and the desserts are made from scratch the following day.

To register, call the Sweetwater Branch Inn at 373-6760.

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

▲ Return to Top