A Sweet Summer’s Eve in Westerlo
A sweet summers eve (three, really) descended on M&D Farm July 14, 15 and 16. The space is a whimsical home-turned-boutique events locale boasting 58 acres of composed gardens and prairies. The lucky revelers who managed to snag tickets to the pop-up farmivarian dinner in collaboration with Mazzone Catering and Katie O’ Events were treated to a five-course meal in a setting that looks like it was lifted straight out of Monet’s Giverny.
The farm, nestled in the bucolic hamlet of Westerlo in Albany County is approached via a series of steep, winding back roads flanked by pines and tiger lily–speckled hollers bristling with Queen Anne’s lace and dandelion fuzz. But even the heady mix of country charm and dark woodsy drama en route couldn’t prepare guests for the visual and culinary feast awaiting them upon arrival. The space has been lovingly reimagined by Mario Pollan and Daniel Buenos, who have moved there full-time after years of shuttling back and forth from their country digs to Manhattan. M&D Farm is comprised of a 19th-century white home, a barn and eight outdoor “garden” rooms dotting the lush land.
The architecture and outdoor furnishings and decor—Restoration Hardware meets conceptual art exhibit, which then runs off to marry an English gardener with a penchant for sexy Spanish guitar riffs—harmonize with acres of black-eyed Susans, lavender, bee balm, honeysuckle, echinacea and Heliopsis.
The space is available for private events and weddings, but M&D decided to bet on farm charm by staging a public party that celebrated the taste of the land as much as the space itself. It paid off handsomely.
Guests sat outside in a courtyard perched on one of the sloping prairies, with twinkle lights, fireflies, a harvest moon and stars providing the mood lighting for the series of family-style small plates and libations. The whole night felt like a freak of nature, in the best possible way: a summer tempest swooping down from on high, leaving edible rainbows for us mere mortals left on earth to gawk at in its wake.
The first course was a decadent Buckley Farms chicken liver pâté with sweet-sour pickled onions and a delectably tart cornichon tapenade, accompanied by blistered rustic bread. The second course included a delightful, reimagined caprese of local heirloom tomatoes, lush Cappiello Farm mozzarella, deep, rich Old Chatham sheep’s milk ricotta with an aged balsamic and Saratoga olive oil. The third course was a classic Schoharie Valley Farms watermelon salad tossed with pinkie-size, perfectly crisped Fossil Farms pork lardons. The fourth course was a choice of Alaskan halibut, Predel’s Ranch grass-fed short ribs, Fossil Farms free-range pheasant and sweet corn and ricotta ravioli. Dessert, for anyone who could cram anything else in (and everyone did, once it arrived), was a delightfully old-fashioned Michigan bing cherry clafouti, with housemade vanilla bean ice cream and Chantilly cream.
The bliss that usually accompanies five-course five-star meals is often fleeting, because the hosts are ready to “turn over the tables.” Guests at M&D, however, become friends, with hosts and staff visiting the tables, chatting and encouraging everyone to stay for another drink, walk the grounds or sit by one of the outdoor fire pits and enjoy a cigar. Why not? After all, you’re on (mini) vacation.
If you missed it, fret not. Another dream will descend. As Mario himself put it, “With this all of our passions are aligned—it is a beautiful setting, with wonderful music, fantastic food and people who, like us, want to escape to a different place for the night. We will do it again.”