Sunday, August 1, 2010

Dining under the stars...and with a few stars

Each year the Montavilla Farmers Market has a banquet, partly to celebrate another succesful year, and also to raise funds for operations of the market (to buy stuff like chairs, tents, etc.). Just like the market itself, the banquet has grown each year...not necessarily in size, but certainly in quality. Each year I am surprised and impressed how some very dedicated individuals transform a gravel lot into THE cultural event of Montavilla, complete with wine pairings, appetizers, a silent auction, music...and of course the most amazing courses of food. Montavilla, especially Stark Street, is blessed with some of Portland's best dining establishments, and each year has also seen greater participation in the banquet by those restaurants.

As we prepare for the 2010 banquet (on August 28th), I rummaged through my sometimes overwhelming collection of photographs, which included some taken at past banquets. I have offered you a sampling of the 2008 and 2009 dinners...for your enjoyment, and perhaps to tempt you...just a little

Before the big tent is set up, the empty lot on the corner of SE 78th and Stark Street is a wide expanse of gravel, with some isolated half barrel planters of flowers scattered about. In just a few short hours, a venue for a delightful meal appears, complete with table settings...and enough glasses to sample wines.

The silent auction focuses on local businesses, who have graciously offered such items as bicycle repair, movies, name it, and it's there.

Kristin has coordinated the wine pairings in the past two years, offering wines from Small Vineyards, an importer specializing in Italian wines from small boutique vineyards.

Tonia Stark, a Montavilla resident (and a founding member of the Market well as our neighbor) allowed use of her specialty lights to add to the banquet's ambience. She makes these from old tin cans decorated with whimsical designs using a small cutting torch and a string of Christmas lights

Dagmar, another Montavilla resident and market volunteer, demonstrates the proper curtsy while holding a plate of hors d'oeuvres (and yah I had to look that one up). I tried the curtsy, but her owning a ballet studio gives her a decided advantage.

Adam Sappington, who owns The Country Cat Restaurant (on Stark Street, of course), has been the main chef for the past two banquets. Here he demonstrates his attention to detail in not only the flavor but also the presentation for the main course. was as delicious as it looks

Good wine, good weather, amazing food and great company...who could ask for more?

Who could ask for more? How about music? We were even serenaded during our repast. It's amazing how food digests so much better when one's ambience is enhanced by the strains of a guitar and violin (or is it a fiddle in this case? I think I will stick to writing).

Remember my comment about the empty lot? Well, like so many other pieces of property in the city, someone owns it. In our case it happens to be Dr. Brian Behrends, who owns the Montavilla Animal Clinic next to the empty lot. The Market's presence in Montavilla owes much to the generosity of Dr Behrends, who is pictured standing with his wife.

Gretchen Jackson, the Market's manager, celebrates with a friend.

Last but certainly not least, is Beth Kluvers, who is responsible for organizing the banquet. Much of the banquet's success is due to her passion for the Montavilla Farmers Market, and making local organic food available to more people. Good job, girl! The 2010 banquet promises to be at least as good, if not better.

This year the banquet is on August 28th. Go to the Montavilla Farmers Market website for more information (and yes there will even be a vegan offering...though this carnivore will look for something

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