A Taste of Fall at Chefs Collaborative’s RI Harvest BBQ
Local restaurants presented their best fall dishes at the annual event held at Schartner Farms.
Rhode Island’s best chefs and beverage folks came together on Sunday for the annual Chefs Collaborative Rhode Island Harvest BBQ. The casual outdoor event is held each year (usually on the first Sunday of October) near the picturesque pond at Schartner Farms in Exeter. Each restaurant and chef presented portions of one of their favorite fall dishes, and guests sampled all the tastings. It’s one of our favorite fall events, earning a 2016 Best of Rhode Island Award for Best Chef’s Celebration.
This year’s event included Blackbird Farm pork chili from Nicks on Broadway with cornbread and pea green chimichurri; Baffoni Farm chicken tacos from Tallulah’s Taqueria; smoked beef cheek with a pickled pepper stew from Durk’s Bar-B-Q; Harissa wings from Winner Winner and Mission; lamb sliders and slaw from Besos; and slow-cooked lamb shoulder with polenta from Gracie’s. Some of the seafood dishes included a smoked fish cake with slaw from Chez Pascal, Persimmon’s marinated mussels with a nice crunch from capers and toasted breadcrumbs; grilled Bluff Hill Cove oysters topped with sweet corn and tomato from White Horse Tavern; and New Rivers shucked Walrus and Carpenter Oysters and served a scallops crudo with barbecue shrimp.
Since fall is harvest season, some of the best items we tried involved vegetables. Eli’s Kitchen produced an outstanding stuffed squash with Rhode Island mushrooms, apples, goat cheese, kale and a toasted fennel vinaigrette alongside crisp apple cider doughnuts fresh out of the fryer, while the Beehive Cafe presented a squash tartine with goat milk ricotta and honey. A favorite dish, a grilled cabbage salad with sundried peppers, yogurt, almonds and kohlrabi, came from newcomer Kingerfisher Catering, which happens to involve a few familiar faces. It was nice to see the former owner of Thee Red Fez Ed Raposa, Mike Lingwall, formerly of Faust, and Tim Shulga, who previously worked at Thee Fez and north back in the Rhode Island cooking scene.
And we can’t forget dessert. Ellie’s Bakery presented a table full of sweets including honey-chamomile French macarons and apple and husk cherry pies, while 22 Bowen’s served pumpkin whoopee pies and other autumn sweets.
We also got to sample some of the best new beers including Revival Brewing’s tart Pinky Swear, a Berliner Weisse made with raspberries and blueberries, and potent punches from Sons of Liberty and the Avery. Grey Sail Brewing was on hand with some Autumn Fest and Captain’s Daughter, while Foolproof poured Peanut Butter Raincloud Porter and Federal Hill Ale. Gansett served up its latest brews, while locally made wines from Newport Vineyards, Stonington Vineyards, Jonathan Edwards and Greenvale filled glasses. Non-alcoholic beverages were provided by Yacht Club Soda, Granny Squibb’s Iced Tea and New Harvest Coffee.
Though each of the dishes was just a taste, it made us want to revisit Rhode Island’s top restaurants to see what else they have in store for the fall season.