Saturday, October 22, 2016

Harvest Dinner At Mayflower Cranberries

We were recently invited to a Harvest Cranberry Bog Dinner at Mayflower Cranberries in Plympton, Massachusetts and it was quite the fun, unique evening.  So, come along with us and read about what the event was like.  

Upon alighting from the vans that whisked us off to the bog we were greeted with flutes of Prosecco. This was going to be good.

And, of course, as any generous and gracious host knows, one cannot be offered a drink without at least a bite to eat.  Silver trays were brought out to serve us duck and cranberry toasts to enjoy with our sips.

Jeff and Kim LaFleur, owners of the cranberry farm, came out to introduce themselves and meet us and give us a little history of the place and the unusual fruit that is native to Massachusetts.  We were then asked if anyone would like to don a pair of waders and experience the bog harvest for ourselves.  Of course, I was the first to volunteer.

The 112 acre family farm has about 24 acres of active cranberry bogs and not all of the fields are filled with water as cranberries can also be harvested from dry land.  They conduct tours of the bog and also sell the fresh cranberries directly to the public.  What a refreshing change from all the apple-picking trips!

We'd be working in Buttonwood Bog which dates back to 1940 and holds a variety of cranberry called Stevens.  Most of the fruit harvested from this bog will be used for sweetened, dried cranberries, the very kind we'd enjoy in our salads later on.  The crop will be sold to Ocean Spray which I did not know is actually a cooperative of independently owned cranberry farmers.

Walking in the bog is a an unusual sensation.  Cranberries grow on vines that cover the ground.  When a bog is flooded for harvest the cranberries, which have a hollow center, float up to the top.  The thick layer of heavy vines make it feel like walking on a mattress and the first few steps can be hard to maneuver but we got the hang of it rather quickly.

After our foray into the bog with assistance from the guys helping out with this year's harvest it was onto dinner.  The wine and beer was chilled and the table was set right there in the farm fields.  

There was music and laughter and great conversation.  We sat with the same guys working the harvest and other food writers, press and media photographers and videographers and I was lucky enough to sit next to the owner, Jeff, who filled me in on more detailed history including the fact that this was the very first harvest dinner held at the bogs.  

The meal was prepared by Chef Stephen Coe of nearby Mirbeau Inn And Spa At Pine Hills. Each of the dishes featured cranberries including this delicious Squash Bisque With Cranberry And Bacon Dust.  

Then there was Kale Salad With Dried Cranberries and, again, bacon, also terrific.  The main course was this Short Rib Braised In Cranberries, as tender and flavorful as we've ever had.

We ate and sipped wine and laughed and talked as the sun fell lower.  It was a beautiful day but cranberry bogs can be chilly into the evening so if you go, and we highly recommend the experience, bundle up.  It can be damp and foggy.

Cranberry Ice Cream Sticks With Pop Rocks (a signature dessert and ingredient for Chef Coe) were served up for dessert along with Cranberry Dougnuts and Cranberry Mousse.

All in all in was a beautiful, one-of-a-kind night that will long be a happy memory.  The Dinner In A Bog event can be arranged through the Mirbeau Inn but the season is fleeting.

As dinner ended we were treated to this spectacular sunset over the bogs, our dinner table festooned with lights seen off in the distance.

Then, within minutes, it seemed, a bright full moon began it's climb over the tree tops as we headed to the vans for the ride back. Another sumptuous food event in a spectacular setting as we continue our luxury tour 2016.

We were invited to this event as guests of Mirbeau Inn And Spa At Pine Hills and Mayflower Cranberries without remuneration or promise of any editorial coverage.

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