Oklahoma foodies are harder and harder to please.
This is a good thing.
I remember still a conversation with Ryan Parrott, now culinary director for Humankind Hospitality (owners of Picasso’s Cafe, The Other Room, OSO on Paseo, and the soon-to-come Frida), maybe a decade ago about the importance of moving from boosterism to professionalism. i.e. How do we get Oklahoma diners to recognize the really good stuff and get past just being impressed that anyone is doing anything?
There is still a lot of “It’s pretty good for Oklahoma!” going around, but one area I think we’ve really improved on is in culinary events.
Wine dinners? We’ve still got them. Probably too many of them. But the variety of dinners is constantly improving, because diners are no longer impressed with just having a coursed meal shoved at them with a glass or several of wine.
Case in point, Urban Agrarian. After nearly closing down in early 2017, Urban Agrarian is back and bigger than ever. Founder Matt Burch brought in Chelsey Simpson to help manage the enterprise and now they’ve expanded from a single store in the OKC Farmers Market District to a second location in Edmond (at The Vault 405 co-working space) and they’ve restarted the Farm-to-Table dinners.
There are three (3!) dinners in June and I highly recommend you attend at least one of them. The June 1st dinner will have Chef Chris Castro from The Kitchen at Commonplace and Boo Hee Newman of The Smoking Boar cooking. The June 29 and June 30 dinners will be totally plant-based, cooked by Chef Ashley Olson of The Loaded Bowl. Tickets are $100 each and include generous wine pairings from Provision Fine Beverage Purveyors. Obviously that means it’s 21+, but here it is in black and white to make it clear.
Hey, I’m never going to be upset with a prix fixe and fancy wine, but I can understand that it seems a little ho-hum after a bit. What makes Urban Agrarian’s dinners stand out are the themes.
I was extremely lucky to attend the early March dinner, which celebrated the women of Oklahoma’s food community with a five-course wine-paired menu cooked by talented women using ingredients grown by woman-owned and operated farms.
Chef Amie Gehlert, Barrio’s Fine Mexican Dishes
Starting off the evening was Chef Gehlert’s utterly ridiculous three-meat charcuterie plate. While I am a sucker for beef tartare (and this one was great), the show-stealing item was the chicken-and-bacon terrine. Absolutely unbelievably great. I want a crusty baguette, sliced lengthwise and smeared with that terrine. Maybe some lettuce and tomato. That sandwich needs to be in my mouth.
(Another thing I love about these dinners is how Urban Agrarian shouts out EVERY. SINGLE. FARM. that they use. This charcuterie came from BF Farms, 413 Farms, Lovera’s, Crow Farms, Livesay Orchard, Miller Pecan Co., Progressive Farm, Gibson Gardens, and Lasley Family Farm.)
Chef Angela Chase, Flora Bodega
If you don’t get a great salad from the Urban Agrarian, were you even really there? Chef Chase killed it with a green goddess salad flavored with cilantro, daikon radishes, and cherry tomatoes. What makes a UA salad so great is that, if anybody is going to have top-quality, locally raised greens in March, it’s them. These came from Commonwealth Urban Farms, Rooted Farm, and Indigo Acres. So vibrant. So fresh. It’s a salad I actually wanted to eat, which is a big deal.
Chef Angela Chase, Flora Bodega
Man alive, Chef Chase had another great dish with the three-bean toscana soup with chicken sausage and winter greens. 413 Farms and Indigo Acres’ produce was used here and, wow, I would eat this soup over and over again. It was hearty. It was warm and filling and confidently seasoned. You know how I feel about a confident seasoning.
Chef Boo Hee Newman, The Smoking Boar
Pork, more than any other meat, pairs extremely well with sweet ingredients. The pecan-crusted maple bourbon pork chop was a delight: texturally it was perfect, with tender meat meeting the crunchy toothsome feel of the pecans. That nuttiness and savoriness really pops when it’s balanced against the maple that just feels perfect for a chilly spring evening. The braised greens were lovely, but the brown butter roasted turnips were the real star. Woo, lawd. 413 Farms, Commonwealth Urban Farms, Miller Pecan Co., and Indigo Acres products were used.
Chefs Leslie Coale-Mossman and Darcy Schein, Pie Junkie
Okay, it’s probably not fair for me to write about Leslie and Darcy, because I think of them as sisters. Granted, sisters I didn’t grow up with and who I don’t see very often, but still.
That said, here we are, talking about the sparkling grapefruit tart they created with freshly whipped cream and a pecan lace tuile cookie on top. Grapefruit is a hard plane to land, but my sisters nailed it. There was a tartness, but it wasn’t too abrasive, which can happen. Instead, it was balanced well against the sweetness of the crust and pop of the cookie. Much love to Swan’s Dairy, Woodshed Warehouse, Miller Pecan Co., and Leap Coffee Roasters for making this course possible.
So, there you go. Urban Agrarian’s Farm-To-Table dinners are not something you want to miss. Click on the link. Buy your tickets. Get excited and then prepare to have your expectations blown out of the water.