Last Saturday, the Vermont Fresh Network held its second Farmers' Dinner of the season atop Mt. Mansfield, but there was no gorp or Gatorade to be found. The four-hour, six-course dinner was held at the Cliff House restaurant. Luckily for the women in heels, a gondola ride up the mountain, complete with hot cider and a fluffy blanket, was part of the package.
As with all the VFN dinners, there were a few featured farmers and producers among the guests. Willow Smart and David Phinney of Willow Hill Farm in Milton were there, enjoying deep-fried portions of their soft-rind La Fleurie cheese, and a rhubarb-and-strawberry tart topped with frozen yogurt made from their creamy sheep's milk.
Other producer guests were Blair Marvin and Andrew Heyn of Elmore Mountain Bread - their focaccia and pain levain were featured in the breadbasket - and Nick Augsberger of Pete's Greens. To Augsberger's delight, Pete himself couldn't make it. The greens from their farm - baby arugula in this case - came topped with Gore Dawn Zola Blue Cheese from Boucher Family Farm and were lightly dressed in a verjus vinaigrette. Other standouts: the lamb shoulder entrée, accompanied by mashed Yukon Gold potatoes, fennel and a willowy garlic scape garnish.