Every now and then the stars align and something spectacular happens out the of blue.
As part of our time in Virginia, we’d arranged with the tourism board, Visit Virginia, to film a few recipe videos in various locations… one of which was outside a restaurant called The Boathouse, just on the outskirts of Richmond. We had a great day filming, and were introduced to Paige, the daughter of the family who own this venue and their two sister restaurants in the Richmond area.
Paige is a fully-fledged, Italian-trained chef who helps create the menus (and now the interiors!) of the family’s restaurants and last year started a side project with her husband, Gregorio, to take the dining experience into a field once a month! The next event was a few days away and Paige enthusiastically invited us, but unfortunately we would be in New York by this time. We were gutted! A few minutes later Paige came back to us and astonishingly offered to put on a special “Behind the Scenes” dinner in the field for us the evening before we left Virginia… How could we say no to that?!
We turned up to the farm the next evening not fully knowing what to expect, but I have to say it was one of the best experiences we’ve had on the tour so far!
The evening relies on two key points:
1) As much of the food as possible is sourced from the farm, picked only hours before so it is super super fresh
2) Everyone gets involved by helping out!
A fantastic example of how these 2 key points combined was when we went into the field to pick some basil to put straight on to our lasagne… I mean I even managed to eat a basil leaf straight off the plant, it doesn’t get fresher than that!! In fact all the food grown on the farm is rated higher than organic, meaning there are no pesticides used on any of the crops, which is why you can eat the food straight off the plants!
The whole menu was inspired by the combination of Gregorio’s upbringing and Paige’s culinary education in Southern Italy – which relies on simple flavours, enhanced by using the freshest and highest quality ingredients.
Needless to say that the food was completely out of this world, especially considering it had only been prepared with a few hours notice, and combined with the three (yes three!) different dining setups, it was amazing! We started on the dining table underneath the barn, moved into the middle of the field for main course and then retired on the sofas and armchairs underneath the chandeliers for dessert.
It was so clear that Paige and Gregorio totally enjoy sharing their love of food with people every day at their restaurants, and then super sizing that love at special events like this. The conversations went from the food, to their honeymoon road trip across the US, to plans for the future for us and them… We all decided that one day we’d absolutely love to work together on something massive… Time to get our planning hats on!!
It goes without saying, but it if you’re ever in Richmond, make sure you try and get along to a Dinner in the Field event, or failing that head to one of the Boathouse Restaurants… If you’re disappointed, I’ll eat my straw hat!!