Green Bluff to Table

“The table is a meeting place, a gathering ground, the source of sustenance and nourishment, festivity, safety, and satisfaction. A person cooking is a person giving: Even the simplest food is a gift”. -Laurie Colwin

Last month we were honored to attend an intimate and specially curated dining experience called “Greenbluff to Table”. Our friend Ronda had the idea, developed it and then invited a handful of us to come along and enjoy a Sunday afternoon and evening visiting various local businesses around the bluff. Ronda and her husband Jeff live up in the Greenbluff and own Cherry Hill Orchard and Market.

When thinking about how I wanted to write a blog post about the experience we all shared I thought, “how fun would it be to do a collaborative post!?” so that’s exactly what I’ve done and I think you will enjoy it. Collaboration is something that is near and dear to my heart, so I am so thrilled this post will include contributions from Ronda Bosma (owner of Cherry Hill), Nate Ghering, my hubby Ryan, some words from the business owners themselves and of course myself. Additionally I am ecstatic to be featuring pictures from my good friend and photographer, Ari. Be sure to check the very bottom of the blog post for a listing of websites and additional information.

To set the stage for our delightful afternoon and evening I thought I would have Ronda share a little bit about Greenbluff and how the idea of “Greenbluff to Table” came about:

“Green Bluff has been our family home now for 20 years. I personally grew up in Denver, CO so raising our family on a orchard  has been a fun adventure. We have fallen love with our country neighbors and I love to talk about and show off everything Green Bluff has to offer. Green Bluff is located in the northeastern part of Washington and only takes up 12 square miles, but offers the public the choice of 37 farms who work really hard to provide produce and beautiful items from April to December. These 37 farms have come together to create an association called the Green Bluff Growers Association which is symbol of quality. To show off one of the many wonderful aspects of Green Bluff I dreamed up an event called Green Bluff To Table. This event showed off four farms, one caterer, then featured some yummy fruit, veggies and herbs from several orchards.  I gathered some old and new friends and we meet at our orchard, Cherry Hill Orchard & Market and set off for an afternoon and evening of tasting, drinking and enjoying each others company and the beauty of the country.”

So without further ado, come along with me now as I regale you with our memorable afternoon and evening on the bluff and share about some of the wonderful local businesses that are awaiting a visit from you.

We all gathered on a warm and sunny Sunday afternoon at Cherry Hill and then headed to Big Barn brewing where our first course awaited us. As we made our way down to the main barn we walked past the beautiful hop plants in all their tall and stately glory. Their golden hues catching the sunlight perfectly created an image in my head that will stick with me for many years to come. Once in the barn we were all invited to sit around a big square table that was covered in a red and white checkered tablecloth and enjoy our appetizer course which was a flavorful crostini with triple brie and peach prosciutto compote with basil chiffonade. This was beautifully paired with a mead honey lager from Big Barn.

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 Craig and Jane Deitz, owners of Big Barn Brewing

Craig and Jane Deitz, owners of Big Barn Brewing

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Some additional thoughts from Nate who has a special place in his heart for Big barn, “It was amazing to hear more of the stories of the history of an area I have loved and supported for for over 20 years. Years ago, I remember sitting on the expanse of green grass that very first Big Barn day talking to Craig Deitz (owner, farmer, brewer extraordinaire). He was explaining to me how, for one of their newest beers at the time, they had taken some old apple wood from his farm, smoked some grains, and then incorporated those applewood smoked grains into what’s now called Mountain Smoke Porter. I was hooked. These 4 years later and Big Barn has become one of my favorite establishments in the entire Spokane area. Countless times over the last years, my wife and I (with friends, with our boys, with just ourselves) have decided on the spur of the moment to throw some picnic stuff in a bag, hop in the car and make the 25 minute drive. In the summer, you grab your beer from a converted mini-barn out on the green. You either snag one of the many picnic tables or Adirondack chairs available, sit on the porch, or stretch out on the grass with your picnic. If it’s a Sunday, there’s live music and a food truck. Families spread all across the grounds. If it’s a Thursday, everything is $1 off, and you can’t imagine a more relaxed way of spending the evening with friends. As the months get colder, the big barn (the back half of which houses the brewing facility) becomes the focus of activity. A wood stove, café lights, and the most relaxed atmosphere greet you when you walk in to select from somewhere around 15 taps (all theirs). Choose a classic Mead Honey Lager, clean, crisp and made with local honey. This was the beer Green Bluff Fresh Catering paired with our brie, pancetta, peach and basil bruschetta when we visited with Cherry Hill. Yes please!! If IPAs are your style, they have plenty to choose from! The Dirt Road Rye is a local favorite, and the Fallow IPA is my go-to. Maybe you’re more like my wife (or me…who am I kidding?!) and you prefer dinner and dessert wrapped up into one beer. If so, the Black Dog Stout is your new best friend, and watch out for a limited release of Black Dog, aged in Dry Fly Bourbon barrels. I’m so glad a place like Big Barn exists – free from pretension, still affordable in a day of sky-high beer prices, family owned and operated. It is idyllic, bucolic Green Bluff at its finest.”

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From Big Barn we headed down the hill to Hierophant Meadery to enjoy our second course. When we arrived at Hierophant we were greeted by the sweetest and most friendly farm animals. Hierophant is also where Higher Ground animal sanctuary is located, their mission is to “rescue homeless animals or animals in need and offer them a place of refuge.” I just had to stop and lean down to chat with Quinoa the pig for a few minutes, literally the cutest polka dotted pig you’ll ever see in your life. Once inside Hierophant we enjoyed our salad course prepared excellently by Greenbluff catering which was quite possibly the most incredibly delicious roasted beet salad I’ve ever had. Made with roasted beets, sweet corn, garlic, beet greens, Swish chard and feta cheese. This salad was unforgettable in it’s vibrant color and perfect combination of flavors. Our salad was perfectly paired with a lemon balm mead which is described as “a light bodied, brightly acidic mead that brings forward the citrus and herbaceous notes of lemon balm” While we noshed on our roasted beet salad and went back for seconds and thirds (there was no shame or judgement in our group, hehe) and sipped on our mead we listened to Michelle share about the heart and mission of Hierophant. Michelle and her husband Jeremy own Hierophant meadery and always endeavor to create and offer a superior Mead. She spoke too of the importance of bees in our ecosystem which we of course knew but she had us mesmerized and confirmed that our decision to wait to mow our lawn at the times when the bees are busy visiting our clover is a good call indeed. It was very clear in listening to Michelle share their hearts that they have a great respect and deep for the land and using what it produces to always make an excellent product.

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 Michelle, she and her husband Jeremy own Hierophant

Michelle, she and her husband Jeremy own Hierophant

As the afternoon began to turn into early evening we headed to Townshend Cellars and upon arriving we were graciously greeted by Michael and Vanessa Townshend. From Ryan “Their vast tasting room is a unique experience in itself with high vaulted ceilings and enormous windows looking out over their vines and Christmas tree farm along with the peaks and valleys North of Spokane. Our meal was presented outside on their patio adjacent to their tasting room sharing these commanding views. Here Rioan and Sabrina had prepared and then served us a most impressive Sumac seasoned Salmon with a creamy roasted garlic wine sauce over Parmesan chive mashed potatoes. Michael paired this with their 2017 Chardonnay or, for the red fans, their lovely Carménère which both offered complementing flavor and contrasting dimension to the meal.” “Townshend Cellar was founded in 1998 by Don Townshend in the beautiful, farming community of Green Bluff just north of Spokane, Washington. Townshend Cellar has always been family-owned and operated as Don’s two sons, Michael and Brendon, have since taken the lead in the winery operations. Townshend is proud to make distinctive wines using the best grapes of Washington’s Columbia Valley AVA.” For wine tastings and other events held at Townshend be sure to check their website.

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 Michael and Vanessa Townshend

Michael and Vanessa Townshend

The grand finale of our dining experience was at Twilight Cider and it was the perfect magical ending to our time together. The owners of Twilight, Will and his wife, Jackie, were warm and welcoming and conversation was pleasant as we visited, took bites of our dessert and sipped on their delicious cider. The dessert that Greenbluff Catering had prepared for us was wonderfully delightful, it was a scratch made chocolate mousse served in a beautiful glass drizzled with blackberry syrup and garnished with fresh blackberries and raspberries. This was paired with Batch No. 8 botanical from Twilight which is a “carefully blended cider with a unique combination of botanicals of hibiscus, lavender, jasmine and rose hip.” This is the 8th cider blend that Twilight has produced. I love this story from the owners of how Twilight got its name: “The name Twilight Cider Works was inspired by my family's love of farming and maintaining orchards on Green Bluff, Washington. My wife and I often found ourselves helping our parents farm the orchards in the evenings and on weekends. The failing light between day and night was where our time was spent among the trees. Soon after, we decided to share with others the fruits of our labor, and Twilight Cider Works was born. We blend our ciders from apples grown in Green Bluff and fruit harvested from our families very own orchard.”

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 Will and Jackie, owners of Twilight Cider

Will and Jackie, owners of Twilight Cider

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It was such an honor to be apart of this memorable afternoon and evening, I want to give special thanks once again to Ronda and Jeff and to all the wonderful Greenbluff businesses who rolled out the red carpet for us. All of the businesses we visited have something special to offer the greater community and are absolutely deserving of local support. Whether you want to give them a visit to make some special memories or purchase a bottle of wine, cider, mead or beer be sure to wander on up to Greenbluff sometime soon and sat hi and support them all.

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 Jeff and Ronda Bosma, owners of Cherry Hill orchard and market

Jeff and Ronda Bosma, owners of Cherry Hill orchard and market

Cherry Hill as it’s name suggests is best known for it’s vast cherry orchard but also has beautiful peaches and raspberries during those seasons. They also have a wonderful market that is open during their cherry and peach season, this market features many local vendors and their artisan goods. Ronda also offers and hosts various workshops and events. For all the details and see if there is anything on the upcoming calendar be sure to check out their website.

 Rioan and Sabrina, owners of Greenbluff Fresh Catering Company

Rioan and Sabrina, owners of Greenbluff Fresh Catering Company

Husband and wife team Rioan and Sabrina are the owners of Greenbluff Fresh catering company and they themselves live up on the Bluff. Sabrina’s family has deep roots in Greenbluff going back over 5 generations. They pride themsleves on the fact that they hand pick the local produce from Greenbluff farms for the meals that they prepare for you. Isn’t that impressive? Additionally they cook onsite in their mobile kitchen so everything remains fresh. They are now booking for the holiday parties and weddings in 2019. In November they will be offering Thanksgiving dinner delivery options beginning at $18 per person. I looked over the menus they are offering and they sound tremendously delicious.

Be sure to check the websites for each business for the most current hours, events and specials:

Greenbluff Fresh Catering Company

Big Barn Brewing

Hierphant Meadery

Higher Ground Animal Sanctuary

Townshend Cellars

Twilight Cider

Cherry Hill Orchard and Market

All Images for this blog post provided by Amen Photography