Celebrating Community with a Backyard Lamb Feast in Bovina, NY
The rolling hills and red clay roads of Bovina were exactly where my husband and I wanted to be for the Fourth of July — the indisputable apex of summer — a holiday that encapsulates everything that this slow, hazy, lush, green season represents. We were already heading north when the invitation to attend a Francis Mallmann-inspired lamb dinner was unexpectedly extended to me. I, of course, said yes.
The dinner was hosted by Carver Farrell, owner of The Pines in Brooklyn, Bovina native Mark Foster of FosterBuilt Coffee, and Alex Wilson of Wayside Cider. It was a true collaborative effort that took place in Mark’s sprawling backyard, the three of them working tirelessly to prepare a feast that celebrated community, friends, the local farmers and the food they grow. “The lamb dinner came out of a longer conversation Carver and I had been having for the last couple of years about a cuisine that is specific to the Western Catskills,” says Alex. “I had been reading old books about early Catskill settlers cooking game and foraged food over campfire. This was almost a test of a concept that we would like to do monthly at the Wayside Barn — cooking over fire and using amazing local ingredients.”
Guests gathered in intermittent clusters, engaged in warm conversation, while children ran around in excited flight patterns. A scan of faces revealed familiar friends: Taylor Foster of Heaven on Main Street and artist A.J. Mason, Catskills-based maker of lingerie and swimwear Siobhan Barrett, Erin Lindsey and Denny Brownell of Escape Brooklyn, Thomas Callahan from Brooklyn’s Horse Cycles, and Tianna Kennedy, owner of Star Route Farms, to name a few. “Delaware County has always been for us an escape from city life — dinners like this summer lamb roast bring us all together,” says photographer Andrea Gentl of Gentl and Hyers. “It gives us a little pause in our otherwise hectic lives and connects us to our community of ever growing farmers, chefs, vintners, and artists.”
With the ease and familiarity of gathering in a close friend’s backyard and the sheer endless possibilities of summer unfurling before us, we gathered around the tallest bonfire I have had the pleasure of knowing — expertly built and ruthlessly tended to by Denny — before heading to an intimate fireworks display to close out the evening.
Brooklyn-based Lisa Przystup is a freelance copywriter and the talented florist behind James’s Daughter Flowers. Visit her website to learn her story and take a peek at her stunning floral arrangements.