November 10, 2014
Sometimes I find myself wondering, who am I, really? Or, more specifically, what am I? I’ve learned that I can curate a beautiful room or tablescape and, though not trained professionally, I do have some kitchen skills to be proud of. That said, I am not a chef and I could never pull off a 40-person dinner on my own! Of all the dinners I had planned together with Cointreau, my upstate adventure at Westwind Orchard was to be the grand dame—the one to reign swoon-preme over all others. I knew that meant I’d need some extra help in the cooking department. SNOOP THE VIDEO HERE!
When Laura Ferrara (who owns Westwind Orchard with her husband Fabio) and I began planning in September, she mentioned her relationship with Chef Jody Williams of Buvette. I screeched with excitement, as I’ve been a longtime fan of Jody’s food. It’s in moments like these that the magic happens, isn’t it? You admire someone from afar, hoping to someday meet them and pick their brain, and then boom—you’re sitting together discussing a dinner you’ll create together!
As we got to chatting, it quickly became clear that all our visions were in sync. Jody’s attention to detail rests not only in the food she creates but in sourcing every single element inside her restaurants, from a salvaged door to vintage plates to a customized light fixture, it is Jody herself who works tirelessly to ensure her vision is expressed. In these moments of sharing, I really got to see Jody’s lively spirit and authenticity–ultimately the reason her restaurants are so successful.
A few weeks before the dreamy dinner, Jody and I took a road trip upstate to visit Westwind. After exploring the beautiful property, menu ideas were born and then crafted further in the car ride home (my favorite part). By the time we’d arrived home, the menu was complete: Risotto Sotto Bosco (with mushrooms and blackberries); roasted squash (in abundance at the farm); a shaved cabbage salad; and a rabbit dish infused with Concord grapes. Served family style, it was all quite cozy and rustic, though elevated by Jody’s skillful use of contrasting flavors! The tarte tatin that finished the meal brought together elements of us all: a personal favorite from Buvette made with Westwind Apples!
Like I said before, I am nothing without the people surrounding me. EyeSwoon is meant to be a community: a place to be inspired and to inspire; a place for me to share but, also, for me to learn; a place for me to highlight talent and come together with other lovers of beauty and food. For my dinner at Westwind, we came together indeed: Laura & Fabio offered their home, their farm and their food; Jody and her stellar team delivered a perfect meal, all from an outdoor kitchen with the turning leaves cascading around them; and our lovely friends, old and new, came out eager to get relaxed and inspired. We broke bread, shared ideas, grew closer and, most importantly, chowed down on some spectacular food. Serious amounts of gratitude to our hosts and chef—I am honored and humbled to have had this moment with you!
Photography by Winnie Au