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The Farm Dinner Experience
by Joy Resor
Back to basics
This past Saturday, Trattoria Aroma held its final farm dinner of the season at the Oles Family Farm in Alden. The goal of the dinner, like the others, was to showcase the biodiversity of the area’s farms and all that can be offered on local soil. Daniel Oles, who uses no pesticides on the farm, reminded guests of the importance of organic farming practices during his brief introduction: “the health of the soil is related to the health of the food which is related to our own health.”
Though Aroma refers to its event as a “farm dinner”, much of the day was spent walking around the land learning about what is grown in Western New York. The experience is more holistically centered on the farm-to-fork movement as a whole. The best part was picking vegetables to bring home; everyone left with a large basket of assorted produce, including everything from cauliflower to rutabagas, enough for a week’s worth of dinners. There is truly nothing more satisfying than ripping your own food from the ground. Dave Cosentino, owner of the Aroma Food Group, has always realized the importance of locally grown food: “Seven years ago nobody was buying local—nobody. But we did.” This enthusiasm for fresh and local food sparked a relationship between Aroma and the Oles family, resulting in the continuation of the farm dinners year after year.
The biggest surprise at the dinner was the large number of young food appreciators. Buffalo as a whole has started to become aware of the need for locally sourced food, and this has spread even to the newer generations. Younger people also realize that farm-raised food is worth the price difference.
The seven-course meal at the Oles Farm included butternut squash soup, roast leg of lamb, and beef short rib, among many other fantastic dishes. Every dish was simply prepared to highlight the freshness of the ingredients, nearly all of which could be found only a few steps from the table. Because of seasonality, availability, and the rotation of chefs from each of Aroma’s three locations, no meal is ever the same, making the rare experience even more unique.
Cosentino wants these events to continue to become even more popular in the future: “We hope you’ll join us for another ten years. We have a lot more things we want to do.” With the growth of the farm-to-fork movement, many types of unique food events will be possible. It will be interesting to see what local chefs will come up with. Buffalo is developing quickly, and the rest of the country should recognize that. “The only thing that ticks me off is that no one sees what we’re doing here,” criticized Cosentino. “Buffalo has great stuff going on too!”
In recent years, Buffalo has grown a lot, and events like Trattoria Aroma’s farm dinners prove how diverse the city has become. Saturday evening, a group of Buffalonians shared a meal on a local farm. The atmosphere was lively with the sound of bluegrass and conversation, and that night, the City of Good Neighbors truly shined. Trattoria Aroma has set the standard for unique dining experiences, and one can only hope that other restaurants will follow suit.
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