The Hippo


Jun 26, 2019








In the kitchen during a previous Farmers Dinner pop-up. Matthew Lomanno photo.

Farmers Dinner Taqueria Pop-up

When: Sunday, Feb. 28, at 4:30 p.m. and Monday, Feb. 29, at 7 p.m.
Where: Riverwalk Cafe, 35 Railroad Sq., Nashua
Tickets: $45

Back to the kitchen
The Farmers Dinner kicks off 2016 with a taqueria pop-up

By Allie Ginwala

 Gearing up for another year of bringing folks fresh and creative local cuisine, The Farmers Dinner begins the 2016 season with a two-night pop-up taqueria at Riverwalk Cafe in Nashua, continuing the recent trend of presenting more interactive, less formal dinners.

Pop-up playgrounds
“Pop-ups are kind of our playground,” Keith Sarasin, chef and founder of The Farmers Dinner, said in a phone interview. “It allows us to be creative with the menu, and if we have a dinner we go a little too crazy on, it doesn’t break the bank for us and set us back as a company.”
Typically smaller-scale events with lower price points, pop-up dinners give Sarasin and the others putting on the meal more time to chat with diners, getting feedback and talking about the impact of local agriculture on the night’s meal.
“We tend to have a very diverse demographic, younger couples, much older couples, [but] one of the commonalities is people love food and good drinks, so we’re trying to make it affordable, but yet you feel like you get an incredible five-star experience,” he said.
Guests can still expect the tried and true aspects of Farmers Dinner events at a pop-up — like the chance to hear from farmers, chefs, restaurant owners and those involved with presenting the meal — but overall there will be “a bit more flair” with funkier music and fun vibes.
“I’m tired of the whole white tablecloth movement,” Sarasin said. “We want food to be approachable and fun.”
One big way pop-ups differ from the larger dinners is that they don’t necessarily take place in a space that serves the evening’s cuisine regularly.
“What we’re doing is basically going in [and] taking over their kitchen and main room,” Sarasin said of the Riverwalk Cafe, the host for the two-night taqueria pop-up. “We want people to see us dressing the tacos, and we’re also going to have a staging kitchen in their kitchen.”
Given the size limitations of Riverwalk’s kitchen, some of the prep for the meal will be done elsewhere. The goal, however, is to have a very transparent food prep experience.
“When you look at old taquerias there are open counters … lots of sights and smells go with it, and for us that was really important,” Sarasin said.
The taqueria-themed pop-up was inspired by his affinity for foods of different cultures, along with Alex Stupak’s Tacos: Recipes and Provocations, which Sarasin considers the “bible of tacos.”
“Alex Stupak really influenced a lot of my want to create amazing tacos, so when I thought about what we do from the Farmers Dinner, having access to pork and beef, why not bring those two together to do something that inspires people?” he said.
The taqueria menu focuses on authenticity and traditional Mexican cuisine, incorporating slow cooking processes, adobo spice, mezcal and the smoky flavors of a barbacoa-style taco made possible with the help of chef, pit master and owner of Riverside Barbecue Dave Manganello. The menu will also feature a taco dish made using one of the coffees from Riverwalk Cafe.
In addition to food prepared by Sarasin and Manganello, diners will have the chance to enjoy the creative flavors from craft bartenders Patrick Andrew of Baldwin Bar in Woburn, Mass., and Jeremy Hart of Codex in Nashua. Guests can choose to add on a beer pairing, wine pairing or suggested small cocktails to accompany each course.
At other pop-ups Sarasin has been to, one of the consistently missing components he noticed was collaboration — he’d like to see seasoned chefs working alongside new-to-the-kitchen cooks. 
“What I want to do is give chefs the ability to help create something on the menu … and at the same point learn how to run a pop-up,” he said. “I really want to give younger chefs the chance to work with seasoned veterans.”
Future dinners
Though the pop-up dinners have earned a steady following and popularity, that doesn’t mean the formal sit-down Farmers Dinners will become a style of the past. 
“I think there is [appeal] for both,” Sarasin said. “It’s something that’s appropriate and sustainable for us. I think there is a place for these large dinners and definitely some of those [are planned] for us this year.” 
Coming up for The Farmers Dinner in 2016 are a number of smaller-scale pop-ups through May, then once early summer rolls around they’re going to host large dinners like an outdoor event partnering with Chef Matt Provencher and The Foundry.  While the details aren’t sorted quite yet, Sarasin said they’d like to do another dinner with LaBelle Winery and also host a meal right on a local farm. Finally, expect to see Farmers Dinners held at more locations outside of Manchester and Nashua this year.
“I feel like we’re really coming into our own as a company, waving the banner of all things local,” Sarasin said. “So why not cast that net more and teach what it means to be a locavore in this area?”

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