Farm-to-table meals are no rarity nowadays, but it’s decisively less common to dine on the very land from which the food originates. The idea of enjoying a gourmet meal right at its source may seem too dreamy to be true, but lucky for North Sound residents, Widnor Farms makes it a reality.
Widnor Farms is a Custer-based farmstead that provides the community with a variety of delicious food and farm goods, namely ethically-raised meats. While these offerings are available year-round, their summertime farm dinners are among Whatcom County’s most unmissable culinary events.
The evenings are what Owner Brianna Widen describes as the “ultimate date night” for foodies. She and her husband Ryan have worked hard to revive their once-dilapidated property into the sun-soaked pastoral haven it is today. After years of restoration, the acres at Widnor Farms now feature livestock, flower and vegetable gardens, and century-old apple trees under which diners enjoy their meal.
Brianna says the dinners are a culmination of two major goals for her family: to connect with customers, and moreover, to connect those customers directly with their food.
“Everything is designed to the tee– when you arrive, you get a map of the farm and where all the livestock are,” says Brianna. “Last year the sheep were grazing right next to the dinners, and so we had people just grab apples off the tree and [toss them to the sheep].”
Without context, the idea of a farm-to-table dinner might sound exclusive or pretentious– but the Widnor Farm dinners are anything but. Brianna and her family are community-focused above all else, and as a result, their events couldn’t be more welcoming.
Photo Credit: Kiana Lindsey
Upon arrival, my partner and I were greeted by appetizers, wine, a roaming flock of chickens, and a warm hello from Brianna herself. These details– especially when combined with the picturesque orchard setting– caused any lingering stress to immediately fade away. Dining at Widnor Farms means basking in the beauty of both the season and the present moment.
After cocktail hour, we chose seats at a communal picnic table adorned with flowers, candles, and menus outlining each course. Brianna notes that Alissa Lawton of Wander Design + Rentals helped to create the tablescape, pulling together items from the Widen family’s personal inventory plus candle holders rented from Wander.
Given the top-notch ingredients and careful menu planning by Chef Josh VanHine of Simply Sound Catering, the food itself was every bit as impressive as the atmosphere. Fun fact: Both Lawton and VanHine grew up with Brianna in LaConner, a detail that further highlights the Widen family’s emphasis on community and friendship.
We began the meal with a pickled beet and shallot salad featuring field greens, pepitas, and a to-die-for strawberry vinaigrette. Side dishes included herby new potatoes and a deliciously smoky grilled baby bok choy drenched in a lemongrass soy wash. All ingredients were sourced locally, with veggies coming from Santucci Farm and Dear Table Farm, and dairy from Dungeness Valley Raw Creamery.
As delicious as these veggies were, the two meat dishes were the night’s undisputed stars. An expertly-cooked spatchcock chicken was made even more succulent with the addition of a garlic scape butter. However, my personal favorite was the cold smoked pork loin, which came served alongside a zesty dijon pistou. Pork loin is notoriously easy to overcook, but VanHine’s version was flavorful, tender and prepared with an expert level of precision. The appreciation for both dishes was heightened by the knowledge that the meats were raised with compassion and expertise just yards from our table.
I also enjoyed how each course was served family-style, with diners passing around bowls and plates piled high with goodness. As the sun began to dip below the horizon, my partner and I went for seconds– and there was more than enough to go around. This setup also meant that we got to know our tablemates; while the evening did prove to be an idyllic date night, we also enjoyed bonding with other diners over a shared appreciation for great food and drink.
Photo Credit: Kiana Lindsey
The night’s final dish was a light-as-air strawberry shortcake, which came served with a sip of whiskey and a rhubarb sauce by Brianna’s son Levi. As delicious as all this sounds, don’t expect to see the menu replicated any time soon– each Widnor Farms dinner is designed to be one-of-a-kind.
“We typically plan for these dinners six months in advance, so we know exactly what is going to the processor and what’s going to come back to us. And then we’ll curate the menu based on that,” Brianna says. “But we’ll also curate it based on the season, so what’s growing in our garden is what we’re going to feed people.”
All in all, a Widnor Farms dinner should take a top spot on your foodie bucket list– especially if you dream of experiencing a farm-to-table meal in the most literal sense of the term.
For more info on the Widen family and everything their farmstead has to offer, read Bellingham Alive’s coverage of Widnor Farms in our August 2022 issue.
1858 W. Badger Rd., Custer, 360.941.0935, widnorfarmsblog.com