East Arkansas Harvest Dinner, Birdeye

Tuesday, October 5, 2010





Saturday, October 2, 2010

Kara and Martin were hosts for the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas' Harvest Dinner. The Alliance mission is to preserve the treasures of Arkansas's heritage in its historic structures and landscapes. Martin is in his first year, I believe, in serving on the state-wide board. He offered up a stop at his house built in 1903 by Jackie and his great-great-grandfather. The Alliance Ramble started in Little Rock that morning, stopped in several cities across the state and ended at their home with a seated dinner for 100 guests.

The weather was fabulous and Kara and so many things planned (I just know I won't do her justice here). She rented tables and linens, borrowed salad bowls, wine glasses, chairs and table decorations and had her fabulous parents and a cousin in tow working like dogs the whole weekend. When Jackie and I showed up at 4 pm, her three kids and Chloe were settling in at my house with a sitter, this huge wind was brewing up. When I say wind, it was like being in Oklahoma City (my hometown). I always refer to it as the Oklahoma wind. This was ten times stronger than that. It was like a dust bowl. Kara had seating for 24 on the west side of the house, and about 40 on the west and front porches. Wine glasses blew over, centerpieces crashed, plates, napkins and plates flew off tables. Jackie, Martin and I were braving the wind picking it all up and trying to come up with plan B. The wind didn't die down until near event time at 6 pm.

While they figured out where to move the 24 seats that were in the straight line winds, I helped get the appetizers and salad rolling that was farmed out to volunteers. The dinner was catered by Helen McClain, Fabulous Foods in Marianna, that did Kara's birthday dinner for her. Here's how the menu card read:

The Alliance
To support the local region and sustainable agriculture, the menu items are from within 75 miles of Birdeye, Arkansas

Salad
Mixed Field Greens with blueberry vinaigrette

Entree
Delta Sole with creole crawfish sauce
Southern Greens
Praline Sweet Potatoes
Wild Rice
Pocketbook Rolls

Dessert
Bread Pudding with bourbon sauce
Homemade Cinnamon Ice Cream

I have to say that the meal was divine from what I heard. I was in the kitchen the entire time but have heard from so many people in town that the food was phenomenal. Kara made the entire dessert for everyone. She had her dad make the homemade ice cream all day long and the bread pudding was a cinch. I thought it was really nice of Helen to let Kara farm out the appetizers to the arts council and historical society and let her make dessert. Not many caterers allow this. Kara also had the local JPC girls serving and they did a tremendous job. Those girls worked so hard getting everyone served appetizers, served plates even though the vegans spoke up and asked what they could have, and did a great job under supervision, of getting 100 glasses washed, and everything in tip top shape for Kara. Gold star ladies!

So a shout out goes to Martin and Kara who fed 100 people seated, to the many, many volunteers who helped and to Helen McClain of Fabulous Foods. It was a wonderful event and everyone had a great time. And note to self, don't set the mounds of trash out the back door so you can continue the clean up, the stray dogs will take it across your yard.

Pictures from the event: view from the front door, the bus arriving, Kara and I, and a picture of 100 guests being served (I wish you could see them all), amazing! I need to go on listing the people that helped but dang it, I know I'd forget someone...plus Kara had an art show of local artists Pat Crase and Michael Etheridge!

Helen McClain, www.fabulousfoods.org, chef@fabulousfoods.org, 901-574-2285

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