Three Words: Chocolate Beet Cake
January 27, 2017
By Allison Carmody, JD/MA student, School of Law and Nicholas School of the Environment
This wonderful creation was one of the amazing dishes served at the NC State Agroecology Education Farm’s Farm to Feast Dinner. Members of the Bass Connections Animal Waste Management and Global Health team had the privilege of attending the Farm to Feast as a team-building activity last October – and we are still talking about this cake.
The NC State Agroecology Education Farm produces organic crops at a small-scale – most of which is served at NC State Dining Halls. The main goal of the farm is to provide experiential learning to promote agroecology and sustainable food systems. And the Farm to Feast did just that.
After taking a tour of the farm, we were seated at banquet tables set up on the edge of the field. Kept warm by heat lanterns, we watched nationally acclaimed NC State chefs prepare the meal using ingredients that had grown out of the soil not fifty feet away. Then the three-course feast was served.
Our Bass Connections team spends a lot of time talking about the negative externalities of industrial food production. So it was a great change of pace to focus on the benefits that come with alternative models of production, and have that conversation over a shared meal. We discussed sustainability and organic practices over mushroom walnut tarts, red flannel crostini and spiced pumpkin seeds. We proudly compared the farm to the Duke Campus Farm that implements many of the same practices, while passing around an autumn harvest salad. By the time the grilled NC shrimp scampi, skirt steak chimichurri and ravioli florentine was served, our conversation had definitively landed on how amazing the food was and how unbelievable it was that everything was locally sourced. And it only got better with the roasted root vegetables, cider-braised Brussels sprouts and fingerling potatoes with bacon vinaigrette.
As the evening air got a bit cooler, we were served coffee to keep us warm. Though some of our team members from warmer climates needed to stand directly under the heat lamps to make it through, the chilly wait was well worth it when dessert was served. The apple tarte tatin was delicious, but the chocolate beet cake was the best. Whether it was because none of us had ever heard of such a thing before, or clever branding on behalf of the farm whose logo is a beet, it is definitely something that has stuck with us even months after the dinner.