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Taste of the Month: RE Farm Café serves delectable cuisine while teaching us to reconnect with the land

by on September 30, 2019 3:12 PM

A dream years in the making has finally come to fruition for Duke and Monica Gastiger.

The former owners of Spat’s Café and Speakeasy and The Rathskeller became unintentional farmers when they purchased Windswept Farm in 2016. Located at 100 Filmore Road in State College, their RE Farm Café at Windswept Farm is an organic, living farm that is reimagining the dining experience in central Pennsylvania.

Growing a variety of herbs, leafy greens, edible flowers, and vegetables including tomatoes, peppers, and squash, the farm also raises chickens, ducks, lambs, and pigs. In the farm’s second Community Supported Agriculture Program, members may sign up to receive weekly or bi-weekly shares of the current harvest.

In keeping with its mission for sustainability and energy conservation, RE Farm Café is designed in compliance with the requirements of the Living Building Challenge, meaning it seeks to meet net positive water and energy standards and is built with chemical-free, reclaimed, and locally sourced materials. LBC also requires that buildings are community-focused centers for education, to teach about sustainability, equality, and our relationship to nature.

The Gastigers’ vision for this 57-acre farm is a community gathering place that not only serves delectable plow-to-table cuisine, but also offers an educational setting that goes beyond the kitchen, teaching us to reconnect with the land. The hope is to inspire the community to be mindful of where our food comes from and how we can all choose to repurpose, restore, and reduce waste as much as possible.

“Inside the café, we used repurposed materials or items that were donated to us,” Monica explains. “The hardwood floors were originally from the State College Area High School that we repurposed, and these doors were recovered from an old church. Our plates and bowls are mix-and-match because they are all from thrift stores or were donated to us.”

No two dinner napkins are alike, each hand-sewn from fabrics donated or salvaged from thrift stores.

Equipped with induction cooktops that use electromagnetic direct-heat transfer, the open kitchen and dining area offer a behind-the-scenes, culinary theater experience that encourages guests to interact with the chef as the meal is being prepared. Induction cooking is a much faster and more energy-efficient method that not only decreases smoke, grease, and fumes, it also minimizes waste heat.

Now open for pre-paid online reservations, RE Farm Café offers two seatings for three-course and five-course dinner service Wednesday through Saturday, as well as a Saturday brunch. The seasonal menu changes every week, depending on what is available on the farm and what can be sourced from the surrounding fields and pastures by local farmers and small-business purveyors.

The meal price includes a service fee that allows the restaurant to provide a living wage to its staff. Tipping is not expected unless guests feel that the service is exceptional and should be rewarded.

Anticipated menus are posted weekly on the website at refarmcafe.com/menu. Some of the seasonal dishes may include roasted tomatillo soup with a cilantro-lime crema; marinated eggplant with lemon oil, chiles, and pickled radish; beef liver pate with roasted garlic and focaccia chips; coffee-braised brisket; chili relleno; and Sicilian watermelon pudding with roasted pistachio. Diners are welcome to bring their own beer, wine, or spirits to accompany their meal. Diners are urged to view the anticipated menu for suggested wine pairings for each of the courses.

RE Farm’s Repast allows the community to order prepared farm-fresh meals online each week by Sunday for pickup on Tuesday between 4:30-6:30 p.m. to enjoy at home. Food choices change regularly, and available options are posted on the website weekly. Past menu choices have included Dijon roasted pork with crispy potatoes, melon panna cotta, mustard seed tofu and shitakes, and a variety of flaky-crust quiches.

With a goal to provide a living, working lab for the public, university students, farmers, school-aged children, and learners of all ages, RElearn at RE Farm is offering cooking classes on various topics including fermentation fundamentals, canning and preserving foods, mushroom production, gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian cooking, and basic knife skills. New courses are continuously being added.

Become a REmember, a special cadre of RE Farm Café, to enjoy exclusive benefits such as personal wine and liquor storage lockers, early reservations to events, opportunities to work side-by-side with owner-chef Duke, and tickets to the spring equinox celebration and summer solstice in the fields.

The panoramic windows, back patio, and deck allow guests visiting RE Farm Café to relish in the unobstructed, breathtaking views of the lush mountains and surrounding farmland. It’s the perfect setting for weddings, bridal showers, retreats, corporate events, family reunions, and other special occasions. RE Farm Café can accommodate gatherings of 25 dinner guests, private functions with up to 75 guests, and tented outdoor events with up to 180 guests.

For more information about RE Farm Café at Windswept Farm and to make reservations, visit refarmcafe.com.

Vilma Shu is an editorial consultant for Town&Gown.

 

Curried Winter Squash Soup with coconut cream

(Recipe by RE Farm Café composer Rebecca Elman)

 

3 tablespoons olive oil (divided)

1 medium yellow onion, diced

6 cups winter squash, peeled and cubed (butternut squash, kabocha, pumpkin, acorn)

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 cups vegetable broth

1 can of coconut cream (14 oz.)

cilantro, chopped for garnish

 

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Toss your winter squash with 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, curry powder, and cinnamon. Roast the squash for 20-25 minutes until tender.

 

 

 

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