There’s no place better than Appleton Farms for appreciating all that a summer evening in New England has to offer.
Guests arriving at the Friday night dinner series follow dusty dirt roads lined with fat grazing cows—the very cows whose milk goes into the making of Appleton’s famous cheeses, butter, and yogurt—until reaching the farm proper where a grand historic house and outbuildings are hedged with breezy meadows. There’s a relaxed and festive feel to the outdoor occasion. Freshly cut farm-grown flowers lend bright colors to picnic tables draped with classic red and white-checkered tablecloths.
At the mouth of the farm’s wood-fired earth oven stands chef Carolyn Grieco who has mastered the art of making flatbread pizzas loaded with seasonal flavors. She readily shifts pies topped with the likes of Appleton sausage, roasted peppers, and onions from oven to tabletop where guests pile compostable plates high with slice after gorgeous slice. Sides like caprese, lemon bush bean and chickpea salad, and gazpacho salad are summery and yummy. For dessert, delectable homemade ice cream cookie sandwiches make all eyes open wide.
Ipswich Brewery’s signature truck sits perched on the edge of the great pasture at the ready with frothy brews straight from its side taps. On hand, too, a selection of wines from Rowley’s Mill River Winery. Close by, a series of solar panels points to the farm’s eco-friendly efforts, which include the renovation of The Old House—now an energy-efficient green building that serves as the visitor center.
Old-fashioned lawn games like the beanie toss—the target humorously marked with a large photo of a cow’s face—Wiffle ball, badminton, and hula hooping are all options. Kids and adults alike take part in the play. Acoustic music provides a pleasant accompaniment to the festivities, enlivening the scene with the spirit of community talent.
After such an expertly curated, fresher-than-fresh farm meal and plenty of chitchat with other guests, it’s an absolute delight to quietly stroll the pastoral grounds and watch the big sky turn to night.