A Simple Evening in Raleigh

by anna on May 23, 2013

I recently had the privilege of attending a lovely event in Raleigh, North Carolina, celebrating the launch of Clyde Oak. The garden design company makes and sells rustic gardening tools and accessories (like “urban farm” seed kits and gardening bags), as well as their own line of organic garden-based cocktail mixers called White Whale. The dinner was the brainchild of Clyde Oak founder Corey Mason and his wife Shelley (pictured below), and Mike and Megan Gilger, the husband-and-wife duo behind The Fresh Exchange blog and Wild Measure design studio. The Gilgers regularly host Simple Evening dinners in their home state of Michigan, collaborating with local chefs and artisans, and they decided to take the show on the road to create a farm-themed Simple Evening in Raleigh.

The party was held at Videri, an airy brick-walled bean-to-bar chocolate factory in downtown Raleigh, with farm-to-table fare by Chef Jake Wolf of Capital Club 16. All ingredients were sourced from Commonplace Cooperative farm, and the tables were handcrafted from reclaimed wood by Justin Johnson and Matthew Cronheim of Arrowhead Collective. The amazing Jenn Elliott Blake styled the table; in lieu of floral centerpieces, she planted herbs in an assortment of antique glass bottles, and for each place setting, she included a piece of slate with Clyde Oak’s motto (borrowed from a Woody Guthrie song) “This Land is Your Land” handwritten by Megan. Natural wood stumps were used as chairs and torn strips of denim strung above the table. A vintage American flag completed the look.

Before dinner, Corey’s friend and business partner Dave Staples (pictured below) mixed White Whale cocktails, each with tongue-in-cheek names like Auntie’s Old Fashioned, The Filthy Liar, and Your Older Brother. The cocktails were served with Jake’s fantastic hors d’oeuvres: crostini with classic Southern pimento cheese and another with sauerkraut and sausage. Everyone sat down at the communal table for a buffet-style meal, including German-inspired dishes like schnitzel sandwiches, spaetzle with wild mushrooms, cucumber dill salad, shaved carrot salad, and an all-American grilled cheese with farm-fresh kale. For dessert, everyone enjoyed Videri’s fabulous hand-made chocolates (and more cocktails!) and danced to tunes spun by local DJ Masokix.

The evening was certainly a labor of love, pulled together by a tight-knit group of friends and co-collaborators. I left inspired—to get my hands dirty, to start my own urban garden, and to take Raleigh’s creative, communal spirit back with me back into my day-to-day life.

{ Images by Mike Gilger }

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