RECIPE FOR A COCKTAIL,
RECIPE FOR A PERFECT PARTY
by rachel travers
event photography by eric antoniou
portraits by adam detour
The perfect party is similar to the perfect storm in one aspect only—it takes a rare combination of circumstances to contribute to a powerful and unique event. But rather than having adverse effects, the perfect party takes that precise alignment of details to create a special and magical environment. Edible Boston’s Fifth Anniversary Party was this party.
Orchestrated by Edible Boston’s Publisher/Editor Ilene Bezahler (with assistance from Sarah Blackburn), she honored the efforts and talents of those who have supported the magazine for five years—the advertisers, farmers, vendors, artisans, writers and contributors—and created an idyllic and stunning metaphor in the guise of a party for the community she has so committed herself to. Every edible and potable element came from the Edible Boston community—every bite of food made locally, even a cocktail created specially for the occasion, aptly named Ilene’s Dream.
And it was a perfect party—not merely a celebration of a small business that has grown and flourished in five years but also a generous gift to her guests.
Monday, June 27, was a perfect day and evening—hot and dry and clear, coming on the tail of a week of more rain than even the farmers wanted. Slowly but gradually, over 250 invitees made their way down an open road. These were the advertisers and contributors of Edible Boston who all found themselves in a field of bucolic back acreage on the famous Allandale Farm that straddles Brookline and Boston.
It could have been Provence. It could have been Napa. The scenery was unfamiliar. Instantly transported from the rigors of daily life, everyone parked in a field with chickens at one end and rows of lettuce at the other. Suddenly, you were there. A giant white tent with beautiful peaks floated in the middle of a huge green grassy area surrounded by woods; 32 gigantic brilliant pink or deep purple hanging petunias rained down from rafters and posts. You were met by a sign-in table backed with a stunning montage of five years’ worth of Edible Boston covers, laminated and hung in rows like a museum piece. The gentle sounds of the Whiskey Boys, a bluegrass duo playing two fiddles, was the audible background. Then you entered the main arena, personally greeted by Ilene, on your way to sensory overload.
John Lee, general manager of Allandale Farm, present as a guest with his wife Annette, was modest about the role he and the farm played in this event. “We mowed and prepared the area,” he said, “and dressed up the road a bit from all the rain. And all the plants came from the stand.” But he showed Ilene the most amazing location on the farm to have the ambitious event. And even Lee was impressed with the “masterful job” Ilene and Sarah, marketing manager of Edible Boston and coordinator of the evening’s myriad details, did to create what he termed a “spectacular evening.” Said Lee, “The way it was laid out was exquisite and the way Ilene envisioned it was perfect.”
And it was perfect—like an impeccably planned wedding. There were things that were old (the tent was made from recycled sails); things that were new (oversized handmade wooden tables, groaning with nuts and cheese and fresh veggies and savory dips and sweets galore, arranged beautifully and simply); things that were borrowed (all the hanging plants from the Allandale farm stand, even the boxwoods that shrouded the portable john); and things that were blue (the parade of brilliant hydrangeas that led the guests into the artisanal arena, the wildflowers on the tables). The event was also as green as the farmland, including the bowls, plates and silverware by VerTerra that looked like bamboo, but were really made of compostable palm leaves.
Behind the greeting/check-in table was a small tent where all the preparation and assembly of passed foods was taking place, almost out of sight but still right there. Above it on the small hill was a portable wood-fired oven from Pizzeria Posto, making its local debut as it fired up for the first time and began sending out thin pizzas, perfectly baked. An old rowboat even farther up the hill was filled with ice and kept an endless supply of Island Creek oysters cold while they were being shucked.
At the head of the hill were four “bars”—which immediately drew guests through the whole layout, coaxing them to look around and to mingle while they searched for something cool on this warm night. The main bar was hosted by Bob McCoy, bar manager at the Island Creek Oyster Bar, who had created a special cocktail for the party. Called Ilene’s Dream, it was summery, refreshing and potent, incorporating local spirits Knockabout Gin from Ryan & Wood, St. Germain liqueur (a corporate sponsor of Edible Communities), plus a housemade strawberry-infused vermouth. Beer was at another table, wines at another and water and sodas at the fourth table—all made locally, of course.
The whole event was akin to a jigsaw puzzle—keeping everything local and getting materials to the necessary participants really replicated the dilemma of the whole farm-to-table and artisanal food movement—the biggest of which, after cost, is distribution. How does the meticulous bartender get local strawberries to make his own fruited vermouth? Well, in the case of this party, it was this writer who went to Verrill Farm for three quarts of just-picked juicy berries and brought them into Boston one evening to the Island Creek Oyster Bar so the bartender could begin the elaborate process.
One of the advertisers, Canto 6, had a strawberry shortcake table. Cornmeal shortcake biscuits were from their bakery, and they made their own créme fraiche from Thatcher Farm cream. Strawberries came from both Verrill Farm and Volante Farm in Needham; the early berries were barely cooked down to preserve their freshness. A second delivery just before “showtime” were served fresh on top.
Ilene personally did much of the pickup and delivery herself—purchasing fresh vegetables from Siena Farms at Copley Square and delivering them to Season to Taste in Cambridge so they could be prepped. Everyone pitched in to get food products from one place to another.
The inclusion of Future Chefs as servers and prep team was a great touch. Originally, Ilene approached Toni Elka, their director, to see if she could hire a group of the young Future Chefs to help with the front and back of the house. However, they had just received a grant from the Jane B. Cook Charitable Trust as a result of the cover story done on them in Edible Boston, and the Future Chefs were eager to give back. Community service is part of their training, and Toni recognized working at this party as a rare opportunity for her students. None of them had ever been to a farm like Allandale and this chance to actually see viable options in the food community besides being a chef was invaluable.
Ilene encouraged the 21 teenaged Future Chefs to become part of the event and realize that they too were a part of the Edible Bostoncommunity. She didn’t want them to see themselves as service people, but wanted them to talk to the guests and perhaps find new role models and mentors.
The creative young people did an amazing job, even creating their own after-party as they stayed late into the night to clean and pack up. It was a jubilant teenage cleanup crew who’d just done community service, singing and dancing and finally eating, having just witnessed and participated in an event unlike any other—one that was “possibly life-changing,” according to their director. Elka declared that “the event was really a high point of our summer.”
As it was for everyone involved. Nine months in the conception, three months of storyboarding and meticulous planning by Sarah Blackburn, two days to the final countdown, then two hours to a oneof-a-kind event that could only have been planned by Ilene Bezahler to celebrate the fifth anniversary of Edible Boston with those who comprise that loosely knit but closely linked community.
Ilene Bezahler herself said only one thing about the party: “I always knew this is what I wanted—what the event should be.” The vision was impeccable; the party a generous gift for the guests.
Rachel Travers is a freelance food and lifestyle writer who has been contributing to the Boston Globe for 15 years—and to Edible Boston for its proud five! She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 ounce Ryan & Wood’s Knockabout Gin
1 ounce St. Germain liqueur
½ ounce housemade Verrill Farm strawberry vermouth *
½ ounce fresh lemon juice
1 dash Peychaud’s Bitters
Mount in a chilled lowball glass, add ice, shake and serve.
- The recipe for housemade strawberry vermouth can be found at edibleboston.net. If you want to make a quick version, substitute Martini & Rossi’s Rosato Vermouth for the strawberry vermouth.
THE MENU AND OUR FRIENDS
PASSED HORS D’OEUVRES
CHIVE–SUSTAINABLE EVENT DESIGN & CATERING Lark Fine Foods Olive Scourtin with Summer Fruit Bruschetta.
A & J King Fougasse Crisp with Sasquatch Smokehouse Smoked Blue Fish with Maitland Mountain Farm Pickle Relish
Mini Roast Beef 1000’s: Slow-Roasted Beef, Crispy Shallots, 1000 Island, Sharp Cheddar, Brioche
Native Lamb Crostini with Slow-Cooked Tomato, Truffle Oil & Parmesan Crostini with Fava Bean Purèe, Roasted Oyster Mushroom, Vermont Butter & Cheese Co. Chèvre & Port Wine Reduction
JEREMY SEWALL, Chef Cousin Mark’s Lobster Salad Sliders on Homemade Brioche Rolls
MIKE BETTS, Personal Chef Chilled Strawberry Shooters with Strawberry Gelée B.L.T. Bite with Tomato Jam, Allandale Farm Micro Greens and Clear Flour Bread
SEASON TO TASTE CATERING
Tortilla Española: Stillman Farm Eggs, Jim Cook’s Potatoes served with Chive Crème Fraîche
ALLANDALE FARM: Basil
EXTRA VIRGIN FOODS:Extra Virgin Olive Oil
MOZZARELLA HOUSE: Mozzarella Ciliegine
RUSSELL ORCHARDS: Hothouse-Grown Cherry Tomatoes
ALLANDALE FARM: Sugar Snap Peas Crudité
SIENA FARMS: Kohlrabi, Broccoli, Baby Carrots, Cucumbers, Baby Summer Squash Crudité
VOLANTE FARM: Roasted Beets
FIORE DI NONNO and DEBORAH’S SPREADABLE FRUIT Hot Cranberry Burratta
SHY BROTHERS FARM Shallot and Chipotle Hannahbelles & Cloumage
VERMONT BUTTER & CHEESE CO. Cremont, Bonne Bouche, Herbed Chèvre & Coupole
DEBORAH’S SPREADABLE FRUIT Hot Hot Peach, Peach Melba and Mango Sunshine spreads
EFFIE’S HOMEMADE Nut Cakes, Oat Cakes and Corn Cakes
FASTACHI Cranberry Nut Mix and Hot & Sour Natural Wasabi Nut Mix.
Pork Paté de Campagne, Rabbit Terrine and Chicken Liver Mousse with Pickled Asparagus, Onion Jam and Dijon Mustard
SAMIRA’S HOMEMADE Fulmadammes, Muhummara and Kalamata Hummus
SEASON TO TASTE CATERING: White Bean Dip
SOFRA BAKERY + CAFÉ: Beet Tzatziki & Crik Craks
STONY BROOK WHOLEHEARTED FOODS Pumpkin, Butternut and Acorn Squash Oils
TO DIE FOR DIPS Cucumber & Chive Dip, Blue Cheese, Date & Pecan Dip
CLEAR FLOUR BAKERY: Assorted Artisan Breads
IGGY’S BREAD OF THE WORLD: Assorted Artisan Breads
NASHOBA BROOK BAKERY: Assorted Artisan Breads
ALLANDALE FARM: Mixed Baby Salad Greens
OUR FAVORITE DRESSINGS: Balsamic Vinaigrette
ISLAND CREEK OYSTERS Oysters on the Half Shell with Cocktail Sauce and Mignonette
PIZZERIA POSTO’S MOBILE PIZZA OVEN Margarita Pizza and Strawberry-Balsamic Dessert Pizza
BATCH ICE CREAM and COW & CRUMB BAKING CO.
Salted Caramel Ice Cream with Chocolate Monster Cookies
CANTO 6 Verrill Farm and Volante Farms Strawberry Shortcake w/ Thatcher Farm Crème Fraîche & Cornmeal Shortcake Biscuits
CHOCOCOA BAKING CO. Whoopie Pies: Chocolate with Vanilla Buttercream, Chocolate with Espresso Buttercream, and Lemon with Raspberry Buttercream
COOKIEHEAD Sprouted Grain Mini Brownies and Grainy Brainy Wakey Cakes
DOUGH RAISE ME Taza Chocolate Brownies, Aztec Sables made with Taza Guajillo Chili Chocolate, S’mores Brownies and Super Fudge Brownies
EVER SO HUMBLE PIE COMPANY Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip and Sugar Cookies
FLOUR BAKERY + CAFÉ: Mini Strawberry Tartlets
GOODIE’S COOKIES Oatmeal Raisin and Double Chocolate Cookies
OVEDIA ARTISAN CHOCOLATES Peppercorn Truffles, Sweet + Savory Pecan Bark, Red Devil Peanut Bark
TATTE FINE COOKIES + CAKES
Plum, Pear, Almond + Pecan Tarts, Nut Boxes, Fig + Vanilla Biscotti
Lager, Summer Ale and Sorachi Ace
CAMBRIDGE BREWING COMPANY
Cambridge Hefe-Weizen and Tall Tale Pale Ale
EQUAL EXCHANGE COFFE CO.: Coffee Served from their Trike
GuS GROWN UP SODA
Extra Dry Ginger Ale, Dry Cola, Grape Black Currant, Star Ruby
Grapefruit, Dry Meyer Lemon and Dry Valencia Orange
TOWER ROOT BEER: Root Beer, Regular + Diet
COASTAL VINEYARDS: Estate Pinot Gris
TRURO VINEYARDS: Un-oaked Chardonnay
TURTLE CREEK WINERY: Assorted Vintages
WESTPORT RIVERS WINERY: Westport Brut
ZOLL CELLARS: Vidal and Traminette
SERVICE + SUPPLIES
ADAM DeTOUR: Photography
ALLANDALE FARM: Location, Setup and Support
BETTY FULTON, COMMONWEALTH PR
ERIC ANTONIOU: Photography
FUTURE CHEFS: Setup, Service and Breakdown
MICHAEL PIAZZA PHOTOGRAPHY: Entrance Display
NATICK COMMUNITY ORGANIC FARM: Flower Arrangements
PETERSON’S PARTY RENTAL
Glassware, China and Serviceware
SAVE THAT STUFF: Recycling, Garbage and Compost
SPERRY TENTS: Wooden Tables and Tents
Dinnerware from fallen leaves - Plates, Bowls and Utensils
THE WHISKEY BOYS: Music