Friday, September 30, 2011

Suzie's Autumnal Equinox Dinner, Suzie's Farm, San Diego, CA

Autumn received a resounding welcome at Suzie's Farm in San Diego, California with an imaginative dinner amongst a field of sunflowers.  Arriving in the early evening on September 24th, my husband and I along with another couple entered a maze of sunflowers meandering through the fields.  Not just a simple maze with a few rows of sunflowers, but a maze of flowers covering no less than 2 acres of land and filled with enchanted "rooms" featuring cocktails and appetizers.  In the center of the maze, two long tables draped with white table cloths stood ready to serve the 150 plus guests in attendance. 

Eager to discover the secret rooms, our party wandered through the abundant sunflowers, some bright orange, some the size of dinner plates, and some withering as they prepared their seeds for harvest.  The distant sound of a cocktail shaker gave us direction to the first room where Suzie's cucumbers were beautifully featured in a Cucumber Basil Gimlet prepared with Ballast Point Gin.  Fried vegetables (okra, green beans, and padron peppers) with extra virgin olive oil and sea salt were the perfect foil to the Gimlet, which indeed ended up being my favorite cocktail of the evening.

Lemon Verbena Drops with Chicken Liver Mousse and Watermelon Radish
Meandering our way through the rows of brilliant flowers, our group came across "room" after "room" set into the maze, each room featuring its own cocktail and bite to eat.  A refreshing Lemon Verbena Drop prepared either with or without alcohol seemed extraordinarily popular each time we made our way past the table, and the chicken liver mousse with shaved watermelon radish was a perfect complement.

The beer room, with four selections from Ballast Point Brewery (Yellowtail Pale, Wahoo Wheat, Calico Amber, and Sculpin IPA) served up mini hot dogs... grilled garlic sausages with pepperonatta in a sesame pate a choux bun, and had us covertly reaching for seconds.  And finally, the Mojito Room.  Melon Mojitos with Ballast Point White Rum were paired with a "fish taco" of braised octopus served in a butter lettuce cup.

As the setting sun eased us into the twilight, our party made its way to the long tables and found ourselves sitting with two engaging couples with whom we discovered an amazing amount of similarities.  Wine made its way around the tables along with bread, and the feast was begun.

Kimchi with slow cooked farm egg... Brilliant!
Chef Gavin Schmidt, of Blanca, prepared four courses of locally attained dishes for us, all the while distinctly featuring the abundant fresh produce from Suzie's Farm.  Beginning with an Heirloom Tomato Salad mixed with marinated cucumbers, basil and kefir lime, Chef Schmidt had us eagerly anticipating each and every course.  Following our salad, a tantalizing kimchi dish filled with roasted summer squash and blossoms, a slow cooked farm egg, and baja abalone had the crowd smiling with satisfaction and pleasure.
Lamb and summer vegetables rounded out the entree.  Our dinner plates arrived decorated with a gorgeous swirl of eggplant mousse and were topped with roasted peppers, potatoes and eggplant.  Large platters of tender lamb arrived, served family style, and had most of us going back for seconds (I'll even admit to a small third!).

Ending our meal, an ingenious Goat Cheese Semifreddo found its way to our tables.  Chilled melon and a crunchy Pink Peppercorn Meringue paired with the semifreddo in a way I could never have imagined.  Beyond complementary, the peppercorn meringue enhanced the creaminess of the goat cheese and the flavors of the melon.  Empty plates were found all around us and conversation sparked as the flavors were enjoyed by all.

Making our way out of the maze we found a stream of lit candles guiding our way through the paths.  Truly a magical evening at Suzie's Farm, and one that has left me wishing equinoxes were a more often occurrence.


  1. How fun!! Looks like such a wonderful night filled with delicious food. I went to something similar this summer called Cuisine in the was so much fun to eat in a unique setting and enjoy farm fresh food!

  2. I'm a city girl who's never been to a farm before! But I would love to go to a place like this at least once.

  3. So cool!!! Now I want to see if it would be possible to do something like that on our land here in KY. :-D

  4. what an experience! googling "semifreddo recipes" now!

  5. Ok, so I will never tell you how I spend my evenings (scraping chicken poop off my shoes).

    This sounds amazing. What a treat to be able to experience all these dishes in the beautiful outdoors surrounded by all those gorgeous flowers.

    I'm so jealous.

  6. Oh my goodenss, I want to go now! How gorgeous, what a fantastic way to enjoy a meal.

  7. Looks like such a great time. Thanks for posting!

  8. This looks like it was a magical evening filled with delicious food. The goat cheese semifreddo sounds fantastic!

  9. What a fun, unique, beautiful evening! Sounds like something out a fairy tale and you described it so beautifully I feel like I've been there!

  10. What a magical experience! The setting sounds so beautiful and the food extraordinary!

  11. What a night! What a meal! What fun!


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