Farm-to-table Suppers

Farm-to-table suppers at The Farmer’s Hands

For a delightful evening put yourself in The Farmer’s Hands

Story by Peter Kent | Photos by Sarah Jones Decker

Gauging the success of a farm-to-table supper, there are two signature moments to listen for. The first is the lively banter that comes as guests share their lives. The second is the hush that descends as companions savor fine food.

At The Farmer’s Hands in Mars Hill, the suppers are an unqualified success. Ariel Dixon-Zijp and Dutch-born Sebastiaan Zijp (pronounced Zipe), build on each other’s talents to create convivial chemistry and delicious, local ingredient-based cooking. It’s no wonder there are so many repeat customers among tonight’s 30-some guests.

Farm-to-table Suppers

Ariel and Sebastiaan’s farm makes an inviting first impression. The three-gabled, pre-1900s white farmhouse with green tin roof is set off by flower gardens, raised-bed vegetables, chicken and duck coop, rabbit hutch, hoophouse for greens and small-plot irrigated fields. The two-acre farm seems almost magically to nestle in among its residential neighbors.

Gauging the success of a farm-to-table supper, there are two signature moments to listen for. The first is the lively banter that comes as guests share their lives. The second is the hush that descends as companions savor fine food.

“It makes you feel so good to be here,” says Tracy Mousseau of Black Mountain. “Their passion is so catching. It makes me very happy.”

Guests are welcome to wander through the house filled with artwork and antiques. Both home and gardens showcase Ariel’s sense of design, while the pantry offers a glimpse of the pair’s interests. Two glass gallon jugs of dandelion wine and another of violet wine made by Ariel sit on a shelf, passing time till next year. Herbs and grain heads dry on racks. There is one bouquet of flowers—red roses, now dried wine-dark. “That was the first bouquet Sebastiaan gave me,” says Ariel.

The pantry also serves as the chef’s library, where charcuterie is given a generous serving of space. “I’m very interested in meats and processing methods,” says Sebastiaan who, after culinary school in Vancouver, sharpened his skills for 15 years in some of New York City’s best restaurants: Gramercy Tavern, Bar Blanc Bistro and Bouley, where renowned chef David Bouley worked.

Farm-to-table Suppers
Ariel Dixon-Zijp and Sebastiaan Zijp

“Bouley was a leader of modern French cooking—lively, lighter, brighter tastes using the finest and freshest ingredients,” says Sebastiaan, whose cooking highlights nouvelle cuisine style.

The main course this night is homemade sausage of venison and smoked pork with onion jam and onion soubise. There is a pasta dish of homemade fettuccini flavored by a light creamy Parmesan sauce with a kick from garlic and anchovies. Sebastiaan dishes the hot pasta and sauce into bowls of tender spinach leaves wilted by the heat. The result creates a mild pesto flavor and a multi-textured savory bite, soft and chewy. The supper winds down with poached strawberries and rhubarb topped with mint ice cream and butter-cake crumble.

Farm-to-table Suppers

“I told them they were charging too little,” says Karen Kennedy of Asheville, an unabashed fan of this dynamic couple. “For what they do and the food they serve, they need to charge more.”

Future farm-to-table supper dates are July 2 and 23, August 6 and 20, and September 3 and 10. Learn more at thefarmershands.com.

Peter Kent is the newest member of the Plough to Pantry editorial council.

One thought on “Farm-to-table suppers at The Farmer’s Hands”

  1. I am VERY interested in attending one of your events. I write a regular column (RESTAURANT RAMBLINGS) in the Wolf Laurel newsletter, “The Top of the Bald” — a 30+ page 5 color quarterly publication. I’m always looking for new culinary experiences to recommend, especially local events and venues. Yours fits many of my criteria!

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