flora + fauna

It was bound to happen.

We were so excited about this dinner on 834 private acres in the George Washington National Forest. The setting was gorgeous, with a long wooden farm table set up on top of a dam overlooking the lake and a sea of trees. While we were setting up, we saw an eagle, a fox, several deer, and evidence that the bears loved the wineberries as much as we did.

Our menu was all foraged, native or seasonal with lots of research into wild edibles, time in the mountains berry picking and hunting chanterelles, sourcing trout and venison, pickling, fermenting, designing.

We had warned our guests that this event was highly weather dependent and if it looked at all iffy, we would make some adjustments. On the day of the event, there was literally no chance of precipitation and the radar was clear all around us. The weather folks had been going on for days about the high-pressure system parked over the area that would make for a beautiful weekend with no rain.

But it did. About half way through cocktail hour, a gray cloud started to form. The heat and humidity, mountains and water had a mind of their own. It sprinkled, then poured. We sent everyone back to their cars with a cocktail to wait it out. The sky broke and a beautiful double rainbow showed up. And then the gray cloud snuck around the other side of the mountain and came back to dump more rain.

We made the call to relocate to an on-property cabin with a picnic pavilion and picnic tables. Everyone grabbed their silverware and wine glass, we loaded the food in onto an ATV, and moved the whole party to the shelter. We were heartbroken. Our perfect dinner had shattered into a million pieces.

But then, we set up a buffet—and not even a pretty one. The dinner would’ve been plated and coursed so all we had were the holding pans and cooking pots, but we set it up anyway. Staff and guests set up the picnic tables and benches and grabbed extra folding chairs from the basement. Everyone squeezed in around the tables, filled plates, laughed, drank wine, and made new friends. It didn’t go at all as we had planned, but in the end it was what Sub Rosa was always meant to be: a gathering of beautiful people around a dinner table.

Maybe it was perfect after all.


Elderflower and Wineberry Cocktail

Cornbread Crostini
Pickled Peaches and Whipped Cheese

Whole Herb Fazzoletti
Chanterelles, Charred Sweet Corn, Hazelnuts and Wild Scallions

Foraged Salad with Cider Vinaigrette
Wild Ramp Salt Flatbread

Grilled Rainbow Trout
Heirloom White Lima Beans, Dandelion Greens and Capers

Venison Medallions
Wineberry and Mustard Sauces, Pickled Mustard Seeds

Wild Blackberry Mousse
Pine Honey Tuiles and Candied Sage

French Press Coffee
by Chestnut Ridge Coffee Roasters

Table & Chair Rentals by Valley Heirlooms

Photography by Sarah Featherstone.