Big Night of Foodie Fun in Chappaqua
Add this Big Night of Foodie Fun in Chappaqua to Your Bucket List: What To Do made it to Chef Mark Kramer’s recent pop-up Farm Table Tuscan Dinner at Susan Lawrence Gourmet Foods in Chappaqua. And we had too much fun (and good food and wine) not to share.
The event was homage to Mark’s recent trip to Camporempoli, an 800-year old farmhouse in the heart of Tuscany. Inspired by its fields of mint and eight-foot rosemary bushes Mark’s trip turned into a month-long cooking retreat. Here, he prepared his favorite recipes from his time in Camporempoli’s kitchen.
When we arrived, four antique farm tables were set in the Susan Lawrence storefront with candles and tulips in over-sized Mason Jars. Couples and groups of local foodies began to arrive and in a matter of minutes the sell-out crowd of forty guests was seated.
The well-heeled crowd demonstrated all the casual elegance you’d expect for a five course dinner in Chappaqua, with a fair amount of women in dresses and men in jackets (and even a few ties). But like the muted green runners on the table the gathering was more smart than stuffy.
The dinner conversation started immediately at the communal tables where we hit it off with Jen and Eddie – who moved to Mt. Kisco from Manhattan three years ago.
“How did you find out about this?” we asked. “From What To Do,” Jen said. (We couldn’t have scripted it better!)
So we revved up the recommendation machine with a litany of What To Do’s hot tips. Ranging from the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival to Caramoor, Armonk’s Hudson Stage Company to the Katonah Museum of Art and the Hickory and Tweed Tent Sale.
“What? You have three children, two still in strollers, and you love to hike?” We told them how we used to tool our kids around Swan Lake on woodsy carriage trails at Rockefeller Park in an off-road Big Bob double stroller. “What? You already have a Big Bob? Then you have to go.”
The food and wine
Chef Mark kicked off the festivities with his description of Camporempoli and it’s fig trees, ripe with fruit, he could pick from his second story bedroom window. And the table started filling up with the first course: Tuscan Fennel Sausage Meatballs. All meatballs, we soon discovered, should be sausage meatballs! They were served on a creamy Mascarpone polenta that we enjoyed as much as the meatballs themselves. “Delicious.”
The dish was served with a Renato Corino, Barbera d’Alba 2015 from Piedmont –“rustic with notes of blackberry and truffles.” This was our favorite of the five wines they served and you can find it at Hilltop Wines in Chappaqua.
Next we had a Tiberio Trebbiano with a Spring Asparagus Puntarelle style salad – shaved, crunchy and refreshing – before Chef Kramer’s homage to Big Night.
Reliving the movie Big Night has always been our fantasy!
If you haven’t seen the 1996 movie Big Night, directed by Stanley Tucci and Campbell Scott and starring Tucci, Tony Shalhoub, Minnie Drive and Isabella Rossellini – Netflix it right away. It has a score of 96 on the Rotten Tomatoes Tomato-meter and Tucci/Scott won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Director.
It’s a story about two brothers on the Jersey Shore who try to revive their failing restaurant by making a Timpano for jazz singer Louis Prima – whose word of mouth could turn their place around in one Big Night!
A Timpano is the pasta equivalent of a Beef Wellington – a crusted baked pasta dish, in the shape of a drum, stuffed with meat, cheese, pasta and sauce. Watch the movie and it will become your instant foodie fantasy. For us, it was a long-time fantasy fulfilled when Chef Kramer served each table it’s own Timpano. Paired with a Chianti Classico, this was rustic Italian dining at it’s finest!
More food and wine
Amazingly, the next course was not an anti-climax. The Tuscan Chicken Braised with Lemons, Fennel Pollen, wine and garlic was beautifully plated on a bed of minted whipped peas with fried artichokes and parsnip ribbons. The chicken was moist and juicy and the skin crisp. The fried artichokes and parsnip ribbons sat on top like frizzled onions. And the minted whipped peas were delightful and fragrant.
Finally, in recognition of April Fool’s Day, Mark prepared La ‘Pesca d’Aprile – a trompe l’oeil pastry “peach” filled with pistachio mascarpone for dessert. Gianduja truffles served in chocolate leaf bowls and Chappaqua Roast Coffee followed so we kept the conversation going with…
And More Conversation
… Bonnie and Jerry, from Chappaqua. They were repeat customers at Chef Kramer’s Farm Table dinners. And they are good at making new friends. They love to dine at the bar at Winston in Mt. Kisco, where they can savor good food, good company and practice their Mensa level social skills!
Jerry sits on the board of ArtsWestchester so we showed him WTD’s coverage of their current exhibition of graffiti art From the Streets. Bonnie serves on the board of the Hudson River Museum whose new exhibition Wyeth Wonderland also made our Spring Events list. We all exchanged email addresses and expect to meet up soon at one of these spring events.
Add this to your Bucket List
Put this one on your Bucket List immediately – for a Big Night of Fun and Food in Chappaqua. Chef Kramer does themed dinners only a couple times a year – so make sure you check back with What To Do frequently.
Check out our Restaurant Guide.
And our reviews of Notable Noshes Nearby.
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