There are peaches growing in the Nevada desert. They live next to apricots and close to export-quality Asian pears that taste as good as their Japanese counterparts. Further along in the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension orchard in North Las Vegas are pluots, wine grapes, apples and artichokes. There's so much greenery in the orchard's acreage, it makes desert landscaping seem like desert laziness.
But produce wasn't the only thing growing in the edge-of-the-map orchard last weekend. New community initiative Project Dinner Table held it's inaugural event Saturday out on the farm. Amid the fruit trees and veggie patches, one extra-long, white-clothed dinner table welcomed more than 100 members of the Las Vegas cognoscenti to a six-course beer-paired meal of locally sourced produce prepared by Sensi Chef Roy Ellamar. The tomatoes came from Pahrump, the beef from Southern Utah; the asparagus had been grown within shouting distance of the raucous dinner party.
Created by Gina Gavan and her "Kitchen Cabinet" board of advisors to celebrate community resources and stimulate community conversation, the party marked the kickoff of a series of seven Project Dinner Table dinners, to be held at a variety of locations and prepared by an array of local chefs. It's farm-to-table in a city where growing grass can prove challenging, and the results of Round 1 were undeniably delicious and surprisingly chic.
Guests at the orchard sipped Champagne and hefeweizen and took tours of the facility as the afternoon slipped toward evening, then gathered round the table to dine on chilled green-garlic soup, salmon with corn succotash and fatty pork belly, and beef braised in black ale. The setting might have been rustic, but the food was anything but. Even the Port-a-Potties were Posh brand, the swankiest of mobile restrooms. The night ended with a baseball-stadium wave traveling from one end of the table to the other as hoots floated into the air and glasses of Widmer IPA were drained. Community? Consider it built.
The next Project Dinner Table is set for May 22 at Sculpture Park in the Downtown Arts District. Tickets are available for $125 at projectdinnertable.com.