We have had a busy weekend over here in the Sparkle household. We started out on Thursday at Chefs in the Garden by The Botanical Garden of the Ozarks and kept the party going strong at a tailgate-themed engagement party on Friday and a fun-filled couples shower on Saturday. Needless to say, the team was pretty exhausted when we woke up on Sunday morning.
If you haven’t made it out to the Botanical Garden before, you’re really missing out. It’s a stunning, sprawling lawn with a multitude of smaller gardens and fun touches. This photo (property of BGO, obtained online at http://bgozarks.org/) paints a better picture of the garden space than any of my snapshots:
The menu included some serious dining options, far in excess of anything we could hope to try in two hours! We had some important choices to make when we saw these dishes on the menu:
We of course had to mull over the options with a glass of white wine from Glazers. The event featured booths with chefs from some of my favorite local restaurants. After some debating and some scheming, we decided to sample bites from The Hive @ 21c, Café Rue Orleans, Greenhouse Grille, and Meridienne Dessert Salon.
We sampled bruschetta and Cuban-style pork from Greenhouse Grille in Fayetteville. Greenhouse Grille is a truly special restaurant. Their food is always fresh and the menu is carefully planned. The food is consistently delicious and they work hard to support local farmers and vendors whenever possible. It’s the kind of place I’m always proud to take out-of-town guests for a meal.
Fiance’s favorite was from Bentonville’s own The Hive @ 21c. The museum hotel’s restaurant has served us up some of the most splendid dinners that we have had in the relatively short time that it has been open. We fell in love with The Hive’s pimento cheese spread at our first happy hour in the bar and Fiance was nothing short of elated when he saw that it was on the menu at Chefs in the Garden. The bacon jam was the meaty icing on the biscuit cake. He thinks The Hive should add the delicious little morsels to its dinner menu in the future, but that’s just his take on the situation.
My favorite dishes of the night were from the restaurant closest to my house, Meridienne Dessert Salon. They presented a couple of savory pastries that fiance and I thought were perfect. The savory crepe tart with shallots and an apple compote was nothing short of amazing. The pastry was moist and flaky and tasted like the handiwork of true local talent. Fiance preferred their miniature quiche, which had goat cheese and caramelized onions and was crowned with a balsamic drizzle. The tarts were both easy to eat in a standing cocktail party setting.
Significantly more difficult to eat with just a fork, but as delicious, was the chicken cacciatore from Cafe Rue Orleans. Cafe Rue Orleans always, always brings the heat at these events and this time was no different. I loved their shrimp and grits Italiano as well. No one makes grits as perfectly as Chef Maudie and her team.
Other restaurants present that we did not have a chance to sample were Vetro 1925, Fayetteville Country Club, Mermaids, GC Catering, Early Bird Catering, Fresco Café & Pub, Yarnell’s Ice Cream, and Starbucks. Several of these restaurants were on our “to do” list, but they ran out of food before we got to their booths. I was especially bummed at missing out on the blue crab stuffed button mushrooms from Vetro 1925.
The presenting sponsor was Filippo Berio. The olive oil company provided small olive oil containers for all of the guests, which was a great touch.
We were also pleased that two sponsors, Intents Party Rentals and Pigmint, will be vendors at our upcoming wedding. The gorgeous flower arrangements (pictured above Cafe Rue Orleans’ plate) were provided by Pigmint and although we already knew how talented they are, we loved to see their work in action. We also like getting to have a test-run with Intents’ cocktail tables and lounging chairs.
In summary, The Botanical Garden of the Ozarks put together a beautiful cocktail party. The perfect weather and the fragrant flowers provided a truly beautiful backdrop for an evening of wonderful bites and libations. It’s never a bad time to visit the garden, to be sure, but Chefs in the Garden is an exceptionally lovely time to visit. Pencil it in for next year, you’ll be happy you did.