Forage & Hemingway’s Paris

Posted on February 12, 2013 by


The music, the decor, the tastes, the fashion – “A time and place to be lived in and remembered.” Hemingway’s Paris was alive in every detail of forage‘s latest dinner series, breathing life into the worn yellow pages of an era treasured by many.


Justin Stone and Megan Kiernan of forage are the masters of dinner as community, decor as art, and food as a conversation. The seasonal dinner series held its latest soirée in a January series including 4 consecutive dinners.

After hearing about forage months ago, and meeting the duo at Milli to find out more, we knew we had to attend the next series.

Inspired by the world of Hemingway’s Paris – and admittedly the film A Midnight in Paris – Justin and Megan set out to bring the sites, sounds, smells, tastes, and artistry of this era to life.

forage musicforage keys

We were equally inspired by the theme, and set out to live in the era with the help of local vintage store Low Antiques. Our outfits are a collaboration of our own vintage pieces and Low’s collection.

linnea and katBut no one looked more classic Hemingway’s Paris than the lovely hosts.

hosts justin and megan

A Q&A w/ forage’s Justin Stone & Megan Kiernan

In our November interview, I called forage a “transformative experience (that) could very well be considered art.” Talk about how this series, Hemingway’s Paris, will transform space, people, food, and maybe even time.

We appreciate the consideration of Forage as art. Parts of its origins are in each of our desire for a creative outlet. In transforming Megan’s space for each series we hope to create a full experience for our guests where they can enjoy the food, company, and surroundings. For Hemingway’s Paris we have attempted to transport our guests by creating an atmosphere reminiscent of the sights, sounds, and tastes of 1920’s Paris.

Each room reflects a place significant in Hemingway’s narrations and life while in Paris – a café like Closiere des Lilas, a bistro like Les Select, Gertrude Stein’s art filled home, and Silvia Beach’s Bookstore Shakespeare & Company. While none of these places were recreated in their entirety we hope that our allusion to them allows our guests to step back into another era, at least for a night—much like the pages of a book.

Foraging for decor – or atmosphere – is very much a part of each dinner series. What pieces stand out this series (i.e. the Whimsical Picnic and Preserves’ wheelchair)?

Thrifting is part of both our lives, even outside of Forage. This is especially true for Megan. She has had that old iron and wood wheelchair for almost two years, long before Forage began. To be honest, the wheelchair was never an intentional piece of the Whimsical Picnic and Preserve dinner but it became a part of it when our guests commented on its presence and Kristen Finn snapped a few photos of it. To have our guests become fond of a piece we had not seen as essential to the occasion was a great moment for us.

For us, the value of an item is never fully known because no matter how long ago it was acquired or for what purpose, its uses are endless.

For this series we are again using items of all types of origins. Some of our favorites include:

  • A three light floor lamp used outside in the last series but repurposed this time with a few fringed additions.
  • A circular wooden table that belonged to my great-grand mother.
  • Book page roses that were given to us by Megan’s friends, Sarah and Cody, who had used them in their wedding that we catered in November. (Megan added the splash of claret color)

“Popular local thrifting spots include Sprouse’s Furniture in North Garden, Rivertown Antiques in Scottsville, A&W CollecTables in Keswick, people’s curbs, and, of course, borrowing and reclaiming items from friends.” What thrifting spots, or curbs, inspired this series?

We frequented every one of these spots for this series along with weekly stops to the local Salvation Army. I also stopped at the McIntire Recycle Center to increase our library of old books and Megan borrowed many peacock feathers from friends. Most of the paper elements came from the décor used by Sarah and Cody at their wedding. While we left no place un-visited this time around there are many elements in this series that we are reusing from our past events. It is great to be able to forage from Megan’s own shed.

How did foraging inspire the menu – what local foraging (businesses, farms, fields) was done to accomplish this feast?

menuThe menu was dictated by what was available to us. In the winter we rely on what we have foraged throughout the year and what happens to be accessible given the weather and stores of our local sources.

Local providers:

  • The duck is from Free Union Grass Farm
  • The pork, The Rock Barn
  • The cider, Potter’s Cider
  • Apple brandy, Laird and Company
  • Chesapeake oysters, Seafood@West Main
  • Cheeses and gourmet goods, Feast
  • Potatoes, the Food Hub
  • Bread, Albemarle Baking Company
  • Coffee, Tradger Brother’s out of Nelson County


  • Raspberries, Free Union Berry Patch
  • Wild Blueberries from woods in Pennsylvania
  • Blackberries and wine berries from the local trails
  • Black walnuts from Batesville
  • Wild cress from our yards


As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.” – A Moveable Feast, Hemingway — Talk about how Hemingway inspired not only the decor and atmosphere for the series, but also the menu, oysters and all.

It is often difficult to distinguish where our inspiration comes from for the elements and menu that come together to make up one of our events. Sometimes we pull from a single item or a single quote but often the final product and plate is created from too many sources to count. In the case of this series, both occurred. Hemingway writes of food often and in a way that leaves readers immediately wanting to mimic the experience.

This quote from A Moveable Feast about eating oysters and another from The Sun Also Rises were the cause for the hors d’oeuvre selection and the selection of white wine. The bathroom became Silvia Beech’s bookstore, Shakespeare and Company, because Hemingway wrote of his frequent visits during is time in Paris. All of our rooms attempted to capture a specific place that was part of 1920’s Paris – the café, the bistro, Gertrude Stein’s halls, and Beech’s store — however, the inspirations for the décor that transformed these room is less traceable. Many books from other authors, photos, items, and collaborative thoughts went in to creating these surroundings.

sausage and lentils dish

Are the people – strangers, acquaintances, close friends – at each event as much a part of the foraging spirit as the food, decor, theme?

Absolutely. We have bought or borrowed from many of them. When our guests join us in dressing in the fashion of the series, there is no better addition to the atmosphere of the evenings except for the melding of personalities and conversations that then occur at the tables.

copyright cville niche, Katerina Diplas

—Words by Linnea White, Photos by Katerina Diplas