Farm & Garden

City Provisions – Down on the Farm

September 24 2012 - 9:57 AM


Picture perfect cafe table overlooking Heritage Prairie FarmYou’ve probably seen the pictures – a long table is set up in a picturesque farm, the backdrop is a bounty of produce and a blue sky. If you’re like me you looked at a picture like this and sought out an opportunity to experience this for yourself. Farm dinners have exploded in the last few years with the trend of eating local and knowing your farmer. These farm dinner experiences don’t come cheap (I’ve seen prices ranging from $75 – 225 a person depending on transportation costs, alcohol and gratuity) but now is the ideal time to schedule a visit.

I was delighted when I learned that Northside deli favorite City Provisions offered farm dinners with all the fixings. This community-minded caterer and deli prides themselves on the very best local, sustainable food.

I went on one of these popular farm dinners a few years back and couldn’t have been happier with the experience which partnered City Provisions with Elburn’s Heritage Prairie Farm and Cleveland brewery Great Lakes. We left the north-side of Chicago from the caterers’ storefront and boarded a biodiesel bus (because really on a farm dinner tour how else are you getting to the far burbs of Chicago?) with 40 of our closest friends. The time on the bus passed quickly even though the drive was close to an hour and a half – good beer and tasty treats can do that!

Heritage Prairie Farm prides itself on being a four-season farm producing not just one produce (corn or soy beans) as many farmers do, but creating a variety of items that can be harvested almost year round. The family was warm and inviting and it was a beautiful sunny day.

A large table for all 40 dinner attendees was set on the lawn near the farm house. The head chef and owner of the deli, Cleetus Friedman, had selected beers from Great Lakes Brewery to compliment each of the courses. Little did I know that Great Lakes prides itself on environmental respectfulness. Owner Patrick Conway passionately explained each beers flavor profile and gave a brief history of how each was created.


1st Course: Green salad with sun gold tomatoes (these tomatoes are AMAZING – I have been buying them recently at the Green City Market and they are like candy).

2nd Course: Rainbow chard, baby leeks, currants and pine nuts over brown rice with crispy pancetta (this was far and away my favorite course of the evening and I scraped my plate clean).

3rd Course: Zucchini cake with micro greens and roasted baby carrots.

4th Course: Delicious locally made brat with grain mustard, potato salad and green beans.

5th Course: Dessert with fresh peaches

The evening ended with more beer, a cozy fire and yes, roasted marshmallows.

–Robyn Traub