Forage: A Black and White (masked) Affair

Posted on March 4, 2014 by

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DSC_0662 copyDon your disguise.

Before the temperatures dropped and the snow blew in, a group of thirty masked patrons made their way to the Woolly Mammoth for an evening shrouded in mystery.

Forage’s latest dinner series was a Black and White Masquerade, with savory bites by Megan Kiernan and signature Potter’s Craft Cider cocktails by Justin Stone. The forage duo transformed faces, spaces, and palettes for their 7th dinner series, ever innovating the concept of a foraged dinner.

Stay tuned for what forage will come up with next!

A Q&A with Megan Kiernan

Woolly Mammoth is such a unique space. How was the decor for this theme brought to life in the space? Talk about inspiration and all those crafty, thrifted pieces that make forage so magical.

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In creating the mood of the Black and White Masquerade, I wanted it to feel both decadent and dark.

With this in mind, gold seemed the obvious choice. I had a number of brass vases and camels that we had used as decor in the Moroccan dinner that we were able to repurpose. I found additional brass candelabras, animals, and vases at my favorite haunts – Sprouse’s, Stuarts Draft Antique Mall, A&W Antiques and the Salvation Army. We used all these small brass items as table runners. In addition to brass objects, I searched the woods for limbs whose structure had aesthetic appeal, and we spray painted them gold. From those we hung crystals and gold birds to create a natural chandelier effect.

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Finally, outside of Woolly Mammoth are a number of boxwood bushes. We plucked some branches from them and spray painted them gold. Those we used as accents around the space and as a garnish on the plates for the hors d’oeuvres.

I love the industrial/warehouse feel of Woolly Mammoth. Juxtaposing the brass objects and gold accenting with the the exposed steel and pipes created the perfect air of ominous mystery for the Black and White Masquerade.

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Talk about the foraged menu. What local businesses, farms, and fields contributed? And how did the theme “masquerade” play into the menu items?

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Creating a menu for the masquerade theme was more difficult than previous dinners. I did not want to reference any specific regional masquerades (Mardi Gras, Venetian  or the like). Instead, I played with the idea of taking a single ingredient and preparing it in two very different manners – essentially putting it in two different masks.

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For the first course I used sweet potatoes that I purchases from the Local Food Hub, and I included a Berbere spice blend that I love and get from The Spice Diva. For the main course, I chose pork as the masked ingredient – and I used pork belly from Free Union Grass Farm and pork shoulder from Double H Farm. Other local businesses that I sourced from include Madison River Trout, Feast, and Grand Market.

Foraged elements are harder to come by this time of year, but I had wineberries that we had picked last summer and frozen that I was able to use on the dessert. In addition, for the final two dinners, I served a wild watercress salad with the smoked pork belly and parmesan pudding for the entree.

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How has a new, in-town location expanded the possibilities for the dinner series? Can guests expect more of this, or a cozy outdoor fête back on Blenheim Road? Or both?!

We’ve had fun taking Forage on the road. Ultimately, I’d like to try a number of different locations around town and out in the country.

Talk about the DIY mask-making. What forage elements did you use in this process? What are some basic mask-making tools and supplies to make your own masquerade disguise?

My mom and I had many a mask making session in the weeks leading up to the dinners.

I purchased basic paper masks from Michaels. We gathered around her dining room table with glue guns, acrylic paint, used cardboard boxes, spray paint, and all the natural elements we had gathered from our walks. The card board we used to add horns and beaks to the various masks. We took leaves and feathers that we had found and spray painted them gold or black to use as head pieces for the masks.

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One mask was made entirely of layered wasp hives, another layered turkey feathers, and another with layered birch bark. Others did not have foraged elements, but referenced wild life, like fox faces or butterfly wings.

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Words by Linnea White
Photography by Shannon Gillen and Kristen Finn

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Posted in: food, quirky