West Hartford-based DORO Restaurant Group has announced a series of farm dinners for the 2018 season, and will also participate in an RSA and host pop-up farmers markets.
By Ronni Newton
With the traditional growing season in Connecticut finally beginning, diners are craving fresh, local ingredients and al fresco meals, DORO Restaurant Group announced Monday that they will be partnering with Sub Edge Farm for a series of casually-elegant dinners held at the bucolic setting on Town Farm Road on the Avon/Farmington border.
The dinners will be overseen by DORO Chef/Owner Dorjan Puka and his partner, Chef Scott Miller.
Miller, and Sub Edge Farm owners Rodger and Isabelle Phillips, provided an overview Monday of plans for the dinners, as well as other highlights of their expanded partnership.
“This will be my 10th or 11th year doing farm dinners in Connecticut,” Miller said, and since he first started there has been a dramatic increase in interest in the farm-to-table movement in the state.
The following farm dinners planned for this seasoln will feature fresh, organic produce, with several focused on the specific cuisine and style of one of DORO’s restaurants (Treva, Àvert, and Zohara in West Hartford and Artisanal Burger Company in Manchester):
- June 21 – Zohara Dinner
- July14 – Bastille Day Farm Festival featuring cusine of Àvert
- Aug. 2– Arisinal Burger Company dinner
- Sept. 7 – Treva Dinner
- Sept. 8 – Farm Festival
- Oct. 4 – Àvert Dinner
“I love feeding my guests at the place where we get our product,” said Miller. He said he met Rodger and Isabelle Phillips even before they purchased what is now Sub Edge Farm, through Grow Hartford and the Coventry Farmers Market. That’s when they started collaborating on RSAs (restaurant-supported agriculture) – similar to the CSA (consumer-supported agriculture) concept where a delivery of fresh, in-season produce is made each week.
Miller said that this year the RSA concept will be introduced to the DORO restaurants, particularly at Zohara and Àvert, and perhaps at Treva as well. “Rodger and Isabelle will pick whatever they have for the week, and we will best fit our menu to it,” he said. “The chefs will be surprised,” he said, but will have the opportunity to be creative with some of the best produce in the area.
“We’re committed to the local food market,” Rodger Phillips said. He said that the CSA idea is so important to small farmers, and praised Miller for taking the bold step of joining the RSA.
“Scott is one of those rare chefs who doesn’t just talk the talk but also walks the walk,” Rodger Phillips said.
“We just want to have great food for our guests. We know their land and we trust them,” Miller said.
Rodger Phillips showed off a batch of sunchokes, which Miller is currently using in several dishes at West Hartford’s Zohara Mediterranean Restaurant. Sunchokes are the root of a sunflower, and have a texture similar to water chestnuts. “Not starchy, but with the softness of a potato,” Rodger Phillips said.
Rodger Phillips said that Sub Edge also has fresh kale and spinach available, which have been growing in high tunnels – unheated greenhouses. Parnsips and other vegetables overwinter in the ground, and are available as well and being served at Zohara. Tomatoes will be planted soon.
“We’re committed to the local food market,” Rodger Phillips said. “We want to keep the food miles small, and 99 percent of what we grow is consumed within 10 miles.” The distance between Sub Edge and Zohara, as the crow flies, is about 4.5 miles.
Another exciting aspect of the partnership will be pop-up farmers markets, which Miller said will take place on Zohara’s patio on either Saturday or Sunday mornings this summer. Guests will be able to purchase fresh produce from Sub Edge, and also taste how that produce is prepared at Zohara.
The farm now known as Sub Edge has a history dating back to 1820, and is now run by Rodger and Isabelle Phillips, and their five children. It includes 300 acres, about 12 of which are used for growing vegetables, flowers, fruits, and culinary herbs. Crops are certified organic by NOFA-NY Certified Organic, LLC.
Forty of the farm’s acres are used for pasture and hay. They also offer a CSA program, including one in partnership with West Hartford’s New Park Brewery, host tours and educational programming, and run a seasonal farm shop. Sub Edge also raises heritage breed pigs, pasture raised broilers, layer hens and 100 percent grass-fed beef.
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