It’s our party, and we’ll eat if we want to… and eat very well (and very locally!) is what Charlotte Fresh, Hubby and 30+ guests did at our fave spot, The Harvest Moon Grille at The Dunhill.
I know, I know. I talk about HMG, Grateful Growers, Cassie and Natalie all the time. They are special friends, and this post is written in the same spirit as all previous posts, in true appreciation for what they all do everyday. I am constantly amazed by their talents and by what they are capable of producing when given a creative opportunity.
It’s that time of year when all sorts of celebrations happen: birthdays, engagements, weddings, anniversaries, baby showers, retirement parties – you name it. For your next gig, consider that HMG has wonderful facilities to cater your special event. Let me convince you of the possibilities by giving you a glimpse into our big day and by showing you what a wonderful menu we enjoyed.
But before I get to the good stuff, let me share how this came about. Hubby and I were coming up on a special event in our lives (I won’t say what), and to celebrate, we could think of no better way than to treat our closest loved ones to the freshest, best complete farm-to-table meal they’ve ever experienced. The rules were these:
- No doubts – HMG Executive Chef Cassie Parsons and her awesome team had to cater it.
- We had to have a beautiful, comfortable setting – the upper dining room of HMG at The Dunhill exceeded our expectations.
- We wanted class, but no fuss. The food would be the star of the show, and the flavors had to speak for themselves.
- The inputs had to be local with a tight radius. The only exceptions would be a few condiments, chocolate (I know, but it’s Hubby’s favorite) and beverages. We searched for appropriate NC wine, but decided on artisanal wineries elsewhere. Uncle Scott’s Root Beer was a must-have for our non-alcoholic drinkers.
- We requested GG’s pork, naturally. (As if we wouldn’t get it.)
- Cassie was given full creative license to make whatever she and her team were inspired to – right down to the hour before the party, based on the freshest, local items in that day. No interference from us.
- We had to stick within our budget, proving that sourcing local inputs and creating mind-blowing tastes from local food in a catered setting is not as expensive as people might think. In fact, we found that it is comparable or even possibly less costly than catering at a conventional catering facility. Your food doesn’t have to travel as far, and you know where it comes from. I believe we get better quality eats, and as a conscious move, we keep the dollars in our local community.
With those things in mind, we worked with Cassie on a sketch menu, giving a directional outline: a couple of starters, a main entree featuring three proteins (preferably that people haven’t tried before or prepared uniquely), family-style sides and two desserts (chocolate and seasonal fruit-based).
And then we didn’t lift a finger – my kind of party! Cassie introduced me to our event manager, Casey, and to our sommelier, Brian, and away we went! I chatted briefly with Craig, The Dunhill manager, and he said to party away. A couple of weeks later, Hubby and I tasted some test dishes, knowing they might not be exactly what we would have on the big day, and we were good to go.
The morning of the party, we asked Harriett of MaMaw Shine to make our fresh, local flower table arrangements. See how beautiful:
After a few words in the kitchen and a look at the menu with some subtle changes, wonderful surprises and explanations (couldn’t get enough ostrich that day), we gave the green light. Then, Brian ran off to print up the menus, and he carefully laid them out on each table setting minutes before our first guests arrived. As everyone greeted each other with hugs and kisses, we sat down to allow our palates to be entertained and to hear some inspiring, moving opening words from Cassie about the importance of local food in our local economy.
Many of our friends had never experienced an event like this, so they were in for a real treat. Apparently, Cassie’s team was having fun and looked ready to party, too:
Get ready to feast your eyes – a thousand thanks to my brother-in-law, J.R., for the wonderful pictures in this post and for many more in CF’s Facebook album:
I have to say here that the asparagus shot was so good that my sister and J.R. were inspired to make something similar for his sister’s engagement party.
On to the entree trio. It was so fabulous, I have to show you pics from different angles so you can take it all in:
If that wasn’t enough, we passed around family-style sides to really fill everyone up. Warm kale, cold carrot salad, roasted beets and farro pilaf. All fabulous.
By this time, we were all happily stuffed. Then, Cassie pulled out all the stops to present us with dessert: an out-of-this world Cafe Leche Meringue Pie by her talented pastry chef (my sister is begging to have the recipe), fresh strawberries and fresh fruit pops. Plus, house-made truffle to-go favors (not pictured).
Well, if that didn’t convince you to cater your next party with local food, especially at HMG, then I don’t know what will. Our friends and family are now hooked. Many of the newbies have already been back to HMG for lunch, dinner and business meetings. All you have to do is eat there once, and you’ll see what I mean. And then maybe you’ll be inspired to take your special folks there for the meal of a lifetime – planned by Cassie.
Check out CF’s album on Facebook to see more behind-the-scenes pics of HMG’s talented team in action. Thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make this event possible for us and for the stellar service. (Note: they pulled this magic off while serving dinner in the regular dining room and serving meals to hotel guests! Nobody missed a beat.) We love you all, and sure enough, we’ll be back to eat again soon.