A late afternoon torrential downpour might be enough to keep one from wanting to head outdoors, but it wasn't enough to deter the 70 some-odd guests who came out to the Bush-Holley Historic Site in Greenwich, Conn., on October 14th to celebrate the second annual Green Market Harvest Supper. This casual indoor/outdoor dinner party is one of the Greenwich Historical Society’s most popular events, and given the event’s quick-to-sell-out nature, and its festive yet relaxed feel, it’s no surprise.
Greenwich might be best known for its glorious estates along drives like Lake Avenue and Round Hill Road, yet the town also has a rich history dating back to the Revolutionary War and as a gathering place of artists of all kinds — especially in Cos Cob, home to one of the first American Impressionist art colonies. This history is celebrated at the Bush-Holley site, situated along the banks of the Mianus River in Cos Cob, where a 1730s building once used as a boarding house stands at its center, surrounded by a former warehouse from 1805, and rustic barn — the site of Friday’s event (left).
Though mean thunderstorms more typical of summer than fall raged on outside, the atmosphere inside the homestead’s barn was warm and lively. In the barn, seats were filled as guests sat back listening to the classic rock tunes of MOJO!, a duo of Greenwich natives Ed Wright and Bill Nollman. Others gathered around the corner conversing over a spread of fine French wines from nearby Horseneck Wines. As the rain lessened to a drizzle and the makeshift wine bar area filled, guests overflowed into an adjacent tent, decorated with harvest corn, kale, pumpkins, and a series of candlelit low tables with hay bales for seats. “This is the place to be tonight,” remarks the evening's chef, John Barricelli, chef/owner at The SoNo Baking Company & Café in South Norwalk, Conn., and host of Martha Stewart’s "Everyday Food" on PBS, as he joined friends standing by the door of the tent, watching the rain.
A third-generation baker, Barricelli took a break that night from his daily baking duties (he typically heads to bed around 9 p.m., only to awake at 12:30 a.m. to begin that day's baking) to prepare a feast of epic proportions celebrating the bounty of the season. Guests started off with a rich butternut squash soup, a favorite of the night, then enjoyed a green salad studded with pecans, dried cranberries, and goat cheese, roasted root vegetables, hearty black-eyed peas and bacon, fresh herbed biscuits, herb-roasted chicken, and roast pork tenderloin with caramelized onion and apricot confit.
Not one to cook anything in advance, Barricelli had a lot to prepare on site that night in a small kitchen, but caught up with us for a brief moment to cool off outside. “It’s been a busy year,” Barricelli commented. He’s been working on a second cookbook (his first features an array of sweet and savory treats for any occasion) and has been readying a second retail outlet for his SoNo Café, scheduled to open later this fall along the Post Road in Westport, Conn. This is great news to those in attendance. Digging into a slice of Barricelli’s tender pumpkin pie topped with fresh whipped cream and a scoop of a steamy, brown-sugar- and nut-crusted cranberry pear crisp, moans of delight went around the table. “This is fall, on a plate,” one commented. Another vehemently agreed. “I need this recipe. He’s got a cookbook? I’ve got to have it. This is incredible.”