When I first walked into the farm-to-table dinner hosted by Bucks County Taste, a local food website run by Lynne Goldman and her husband, Mark Feffer, at the Golden Pheasant Inn in Erwinna, Pennsylvania, I was a little nervous.
Attendants sat organized within tables of 10, so there would be no way for me to escape without having to chat up some strangers, most of whom were members of the Bucks County Taste Dinner Club, a branch of the website. I thought: A room full of accomplished and knowledgeable foodies? What am I going to say?
I started to chat with the woman next to me, Kathleen of Flemington, and I asked her about how she came to be at a Bucks County Taste Dinner Club event. I figured she must be a local farmer, restaurateur or maybe a writer.
“I’m at a stay-at-home mom, and my husband, Dave here, is an accountant,” she said. “We’re into food, but we have three kids at home, so we don’t get out much,” she said with a laugh.
Turns out, this is the norm for members of the Bucks County Taste Dinner Club, of which about 20 percent of attendants are from Hunterdon and Somerset counties. The club plans to host about one event a month this year at Bucks County restaurants that celebrate local farmers, products and markets.
Instead of uppity food connoisseurs, the open-membership club is full of regular people who simply like food, trying new restaurants and meeting new people. Events range from $45 to $95 and attendants range from 20 to 200 people.
The club is the brainchild of the BucksCountyTaste.com, which shares the stories behind local food. Although the site started as Goldman’s hobby when it began eight years ago, it is now her full-time job and garnered 500,000 page views and 100,000 unique visitors last year.
Goldman has also expanded the site with HunterdonCountyTaste.com, which launched last year and is still in its early stages.
Registration is currently open here for Bucks County Taste’s Hotel du Village pop-up French dinner, which will be hosted at the hotel’s 2535 River Road, New Hope location. Those interested can also visit buckscountytaste.com/click-here-for-food-events-in-bucks-county/ and click on the ad for the event on the right side of the page.
The event will be composed of a six-course tasting menu with wine pairings for $95 per person, which includes tax and gratuity, on Saturday, Feb. 27, from 7 to 10 p.m.
“This is a beautiful venue where people can feel nice getting dressed up,” said Goldman. “Plus, it will be set up in a way where it’s easy to talk to and meet other people, since we will be sitting at 8-round or 10-round tables.”
There will be anywhere from 100 to 200 spots at the event, depending on demand. About 90 people have signed up so far.
Some of the food on the tasting menu includes the steak au poivre, which is an Amish prime rib of beef with potato pave and winter vegetables, as well as a trout meunière with potato cake, almonds and French beans.
“We are sticking to a rustic, country classic French style,” said Hunter Stagg, executive chef at Hotel du Village. “I am trying to create a positive experience here that is simple, not overbearing or elbowed and quiet.”
All of the meats are all-natural and hormone-free from Lancaster Amish farms, and many other ingredients are local as well, including chestnuts from Solebury Orchards in New Hope.
Since the hotel was purchased by Landmark Hospitality in January 2013, with renovations being finalized at the end of 2015, it has no longer had a restaurant. So Stagg wanted to do a pop-up dinner and pay homage to the original hotel menu with some updated twists.
The renovated Hotel du Village has an old-world charm, said Goldman, that has been restored with rich wood, warm colors and an intimate feel.
For the night of the pop-up dinner, Hotel du Village will be offering a special $169 a night room rate for its 22 guest rooms.
“Speaking as a country boy from Annandale, I feel that Hotel du Village is the country meets the city,” said Stagg. “This is a beautiful French country boutique hotel that still has an upper-class and contemporary feel.”
Hotel du Village pop-up French dinner
Where: 2535 River Road, New Hope, Pennsylvania
When: Saturday, Feb. 27, from 7 to 10 p.m.
Cost: $95, which can be paid for and registered here
Hotel: Discounted rooms are being offered that night only for $169