A farm to table dinner, when the chef works closely with the farmer to plan the menu, is the most fun way possible to explore local offerings, eat what's truly in season and get to know a few new local people who love food like you do. Normally, I think this treat — not an inexpensive one — should be reserved for appreciative adults. But recently, we had the chance to enjoy such a dinner with our teenaged son — it was a pleasure and I may have changed my tune.
The invitation arrived late on a Monday afternoon, by text, as many of the best invitations do. A few guests had cancelled their reservations for a dinner on City Roots farm that evening, hosted by one of our favorite chefs. Would we like to take their spots? For free? Why, yes, please! The timing was perfect. Our two youngest sons were out of town, and the oldest, a freshman in high school, is past the age of needing a babysitter.
We were excited about a free date night...but how often do get the chance to hang out with your teenager? We bought him a ticket (which also helped me feel better about scoring the free seats for ourselves). Dinner on the farm is a great way to teach a child more about where his food comes from. And the long, communal table is the perfect place to practice social skills.
I was worried he wouldn't want to come with us, but I forgot the cardinal rule of teenage boys: Food is good and food stuffed with sausage is better. The summer before, we had enjoyed a few farm to table meals in Italy, at Maile Volante, so he knew what was in store and he was pumped! It was an absolute pleasure to have him with us. Watching him interact so graciously with other adults showed us a great side of him we don't always see at home. The convivial atmosphere made us all like each other more. And he appreciated the fresh, carefully prepared meal as much as we did.
Do you ever include children in adult dinners like this one, or special meals out at restaurants? Teenagers can usually conduct themselves like adults. How young is too young?
(Images: Forrest Clonts)