Book Review: Slow Church

Slow Church Book CoverIf the 20th century taught us anything, it taught us that efficiency, calculability, predictability and control are to be most prized, seen most readily in large, corporate chains, most notably McDonalds. Machine-like speed and efficiency are now virtues, celebrated even in our churches. How many people can we get in the door on any given Sunday? How many people have prayed the prayer? How many people have we baptized? How many people have become members? What is the latest fad in church and how can we copy it?

But like any large social movement, there have been little pockets of resistance by people who are willing to ask the tough questions of where this path of destruction might be leading us. One of those pockets of resistance was The Slow Food Movement which began in 1986 in protest to the building of a McDonalds near the Spanish Steps in Rome. “The Slow Food Movement is fundamentally about the richness of common life with the neighbors who grow our food, prepare our food and share our food” (16). The Slow Food Movement has spread worldwide, and its greatest contribution might not be in the area of food, but might be in giving us pause to think through how other areas of our life might have succumbed to the pressures of this cult of speed.

Most recently, Chris Smith and John Pattison have been thinking through how the themes of the Slow Food Movement might shape a view of Slow Church, first through their blog and now in the publication of Slow Church: Cultivating Community in the Patient Way of Jesus. They survey the landscape of American Christianity and conclude:

“Many churches, particularly those driven by church growth models, come dangerously close to reducing Christian to a commodity that can be packaged, marketed and sold. Instead of cultivating a deep, holistic discipleship that touches every aspect of our lives, we’ve confined the life of faith to Sunday mornings, where it can be kept safe and predictable, or to a ‘personal relationship with Jesus Christ,’ which can be managed from the privacy of our own home. Following Jesus has been diminished to a privatized faith rather than a lifelong apprenticeship undertaken in the context of Christian community” (14).

Over and against this mode of church, Chris and John hope to begin a broad and possibly slow conversation, issuing “a call for intentionality, an awareness of our mutual interdependence with all people and all creation, and an attentiveness to the world around us and the work God is doing in our very own neighborhoods” (16). They long to savor a conversation around the dinner table on how the church can be a “way of being authentically connected as coproducers to a Story that is as big as the planet (bigger) and as intimate as our own backyards” (20).

As they begin this important conversation, they frame it around three courses: The first course is ethics, giving preference to quality, how we embody Christ in our terrior. The second course is ecology, framed by the fact that God is in the process of reconciling all of creation, which means how we do things as a church is just as important as what we do. The final course is economy, understanding that God’s economy is based on superabundance and never scarcity.

Lest you think that their idea of Slow Church is simply a means to make church sound cool and hip to our culture, especially the middle and upper White Suburbia, enamored with all things local and slow, their vision of church is rooted in deep theological reflection. They reflect on such key themes as the drama of redemption, looking at how improve shapes our participation. Our God being a “remarkably patient yet radically immanent God” (24) is also foundational to Slow Church. They reflect deeply on humanity, not in some utopian way, but recognizing how deeply rebellious and sinful we all are, yet that we were created to move beyond this through the working of the Holy Spirit into deep rich fellowship and community. And finally, in everything they develop throughout the book, the authors continually remind us that the Christian life is first and foremost a deep joy in the resurrection life – “The primary work of Slow Church is not attracting people to our church buildings, but rather cultivating together the resurrection life of Christ, by deeply and selflessly loving our brothers and sisters, our neighbors and even our enemies” (33).

Much of their reflection is centered around ridding the church of its McDonaldization (drawing on the work of George Ritzer and John Drane). McDonalds is driven by efficiency, calculability, predictability and control. While none of these four are evil or sinful in and of themselves, they are, for the most part, antithetical to the ethics, ecology and economy of God’s Kingdom.

The reason we have succumbed to the idol of McDonalds is the fragmentation that we are all plagued with as a result of sin. We know in our heads: “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:19), but is this how we truly live? Do we, do I, truly believe that God is in the process of making not just us, but all of creation whole again? If I truly believe this and truly desire to live from this fact, then I am compelled to slow down, sit and stay for a while with messy, sinful people, which includes me. It means not fleeing from myself, not fleeing from others, and not fleeing from the place God has placed me for greener pastures elsewhere.

How do we start moving away from the McDonaldization that pervades so much of our culture and church? Unfortunately there are no “five easy steps.” What Smith and Pattison advocate is not just a completely different mindset, but a completely different soulset. A striving not after what the world values, but a striving to “receive one another, our neighbors and our place as gifts of God intended not for our private good as individuals or as a church but for God’s work of reconciliation in helping out place to heal and flourish” (189).

In other words, hospitality, breaking bread together, taking the time to savor what God is already doing in our midst and joining with Him as He seeks to inaugurate His Kingdom in our church and in our neighborhood.

Chris Smith and John Pattison “challenge you [me] to imagine what our common life would look like it were centered around (a) eating together at the table and (b) the slow, eucharistic conversation that convivial feasting encourages” (209).

That is the conversation I have tried to start here on this blog. But more importantly, that is the person I want to be and that is the church and community I want to be part of.

Taking versus Receiving

Do we take Communion? Or do we receive Communion? Does it even matter?

Recently I have been reading Cultivating Reality: How the Soil Might Save Us by Ragan Sutterfield. In the book, he writes, “I have a priest friend who says that there are many in his congregation who simply can’t hold out their hand and receive the bread—they must take it” (p. 31, location 568). This sentence started me thinking about my posture in coming to the Table as well as the Evangelical’s language in inviting people to the Table.

In short, even though it is only one word difference in the question, I think it is of vital significance that when we approach the Table, we receive the Elements, never taking.

Sadly, in the Evangelical churches I have been part of, the way in which the Eucharist is celebrated, as I approach the Table, I am required to take the Elements as there is no way for me to receive the body and blood of my Savior.

What then are the implications of taking the Elements versus receiving the Elements?

First and foremost, taking the Elements has the potential to teach a false view of salvation and sanctification. The Evangelical tradition rightly teaches that salvation is a free gift received based on what Christ has accomplished once and for all through his death and resurrection – justified by faith through grace alone (Ephesians 2:8-9). Salvation is not something there for our taking. Therefore, when we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, in which we once again remember and proclaim the awesome gift, should we not have the same posture as when we first received our salvation? Do we implicitly teach people that once you receive salvation, Jesus is there for your taking whenever and however you want?

Second, and related to the first point, taking gives credence to our culture of consumerism. We are taught from the moment we enter the world that everything is there for our taking. New cars, new looks, new technology, new medicine is all within your reach, and unless you have the newest and greatest, you will never be satisfied, so go out and grab it. But this consumerism is antithetical to the Gospel. The world is not there for the taking. God did not give us the gift of Creation in order to take, take, take, but rather in humility to receive the joys of the gift. Sutterfield writes, “To be humbled is to be returned and reminded that we are but soil” (p. 30, location 541). Humility implies the deep recognition that I am part of the same earth I so often neglect or exploit.

Finally, taking places ME above all else and implies a radical false independence from other people and creation itself. Taking denies my creature-ness – the fact that I am part of a rich system of mutual interdependence upon millions and millions of other creatures. I am tempted to think that as I mature, both physically and spiritually, I am more and more independent of others. But in actuality the opposite should be true – as I mature I should recognize more and more just how dependent I am upon everyone else in order to live the life Christ is calling me into.

I don’t think any Evangelical would say that this is his goal in how he invites people to celebrate the Eucharist. But I think we do need to examine the subconscious implications of our practices.

Contrary to taking, when we receive the elements from one another, we receive back our humanity. We move; we are active, not passive. While it might seem that taking is more active than receiving, receiving actually requires more activity and retraining as it is so contrary to our society.

The Stories that Shape Us

This past Holy Week, I had the distinct pleasure and privilege of hosting, what was for me, my fourth annual Passover Seder (Here are some of my thoughts from the first Seder). The Seder is as close to a family tradition that Claire and I have in our few years of marriage thus far, and I hope it continues to be something we look forward to and cherish each Easter season.

Even though I use the same material every year, inevitably I will see the story in a slightly different light.

This year was no different.

As I prepared for the Seder, the phrase that kept returning to my mind over and over again was “the stories that shape us.”

The Passover is not just an event to be remembered, rather to celebrate the Passover is a retelling and re-entering the celebratory story of God rescuing his people from slavery and oppression. It is not about what God did for a people long since dead, it is about what God is continually doing even today to shape a people for himself.

This idea made me ruminate on stories and the fact that I have been shaped by a very specific set of stories – both good stories and bad stories. And these stories have shaped me more than any Bible lesson or seminary class I have sat through (and trust me, I have plenty of those experiences).

So what is it about stories that are so powerful? Why am I more inclined to remember a person when he or she tells me the story of his or her life? And why is it that as a culture, both the broader American culture and the more specific Evangelical culture, we have lost the art of storytelling?

For one, while all of language is revelatory, stories reveal something deeper. Stories move me away from the abstract into the very heart of the person telling the story. Stories dwell in the place of flesh and blood, of people, not merely neat, tidy ideas. Today we value information over story – stories are seen as the illustration for the important information. As Eugene Peterson writes, “But we don’t live our lives by information; we live in relationships, family-of-faith relationships in the context of a community of men and women, each one an intricate bundle of experience and motive and desire, and in the presence of a personal God who has designs on us for justice and salvation” (The Jesus Way, 73).

Stories also have the power to open us up to new horizons and a grander picture of the world and the dawning of God’s kingdom. Stories give color to the world. When we join a good story, we see the world in a more vivid manner. Again to quote Eugene Peterson, “Without stories we end up with stereotypes – a flat earth with flat cardboard figures that have no texture or depth, no interior” (Tell It Slant, 134 [emphasis original]).

In some ways, I wonder if you can compare information and stories to a photograph and actually seeing the real thing. Photographs can give me an idea of the beauty of a place, but it can never capture and invite like actually being there can. Information, likewise, can tell me a great deal about something, but a story opens up my imagination and invites me into something much bigger. Stories take the “boring-ordinariness” of my life and invite me to see them in a different light…as an avenue in which God is deeply at work in bringing forth his kingdom within me and around me.

One of the many consequences of sin is the fragmentation of stories. I am prone to forget my story or prone to forget that what I have done and continue to do bears little to no impact on my story. Satan tries to convince me that the story of my sin does not matter that it does not correlate with the person Jesus is calling me to become. Satan also is great at disconnecting me from the myriad of stories simultaneously taking place around the world. Do I really need to bother myself with what is happening in Ukraine, South Korea, and the problems that continually plague Africa? Eugene Peterson writes:

“Most of the words that come before us today are delivered by television, newspaper, and magazine journalists. There is no story in them beyond the event, the speech, the accident. There is nothing that connects to the past, reaches into the future, plumbs the depths or soars to the heights. Instead of connecting with more reality, the words disconnect us, leaving us in a litter of incident and comment” (Subversive Spirituality, 187).

However, when the great Story of the Gospel is told and invades my life, Jesus uses what I once considered the fragmentation of my story and slowly shows me how the pieces fit together to make one beautiful, harmonious story. A story only he could tell.

And this is the story I need to remind myself. I need to remind myself that I am more than the bits and pieces. I am a beautiful story that can inspire others to join the Story that gives all other stories their meaning.

Hospitality Perverted

If hospitality, like I discussed in my previous post, is the creation of an open space to allow people the freedom to be who God created and intended them to be (most clearly seen and exhibited when Jesus washed his disciples’ feet), then what is its stark opposite?

Dare I say: Cannibalism?

In Homeric Greece, a civilized community is a place where “people produce grain to make their bread, where they have vineyards to make wine, orchards with apple and pear trees, pomegranates, figs and olives, and where well-planted gardens provide all sorts of fresh green vegetables throughout the year. Communities like this have meeting halls where the people come together for discussion and counsel” (Food: The History of Taste, 67). And hospitality was an act held in high regard; Zeus himself was considered the god of strangers; so much so that the common practice upon receiving a stranger was to first feed him and then, once fed, to ask questions about his history and business (The Hungry Soul, 102).

In his epic The Odyssey, Homer gives us a glimpse into what the antithesis to the idea of Greek hospitality looked like through Odysseus’ encounter with the Cyclopes Polyphemus. As many know, the Cyclopes are one-eyed monsters. Because of the one eye, they lack any perspective, motivated solely by the here-and-now, enslaved to an unbridled, imbalanced appetite.

The Cyclopes are further described as “lawless brutes,” having “no meeting place for council, no laws either,” and “each a law to himself, ruling his wives and children, not a care in the world for any neighbor” (The Odyssey, 9:120-128). Their land is unsown and unplowed, overgrown. They live in caves in complete isolation from one another, hating community and hospitality so much that they use huge boulders as doors. Polyphemus takes better care of his goats and sheep than other humans.

When Odysseus and his men finally face the Polyphemus, they beg him to treat them as was the custom, as Zeus had commanded. Polyphemus’ reaction to Odysseus’ request? Mocking Zeus and hospitality to the extent that he snatches up two of Odysseus’ men, “knocked them dead like pups—their brains gushed out all over, soaked the floor—and ripping them limb from limb to fix his meal he bolted them down like a mountain-lion, left no scrap, devoured entrails, flesh and bones, marrow and all!” (9:326-330)

They Cyclopes have such a distorted/twisted view of what it means to be human that they resort to devouring humans, leaving nothing behind. Humans are simply to be tossed aside while his goats and sheep deserve the utmost care and respect. As Leon Kass observes, “For him [Polyphemus], not nature or the divine, but ‘one’s-own-ness’ is supreme” (The Hungry Soul, 112). Kass continues, “One-eyed, without perspective, he is confused about what is truly near and far, about what is superficial and what goes deep, indeed, about that which is truly his own—the human soul and its openness to learning and loving” (112). Everyone that is only slightly different is a threat to who he has become, and therefore, must be destroyed, taken to the furthest extreme in cannibalism.

While no one might be practicing Polyphemus’ deeply perverted hospitality, I do wonder if there is not some sort of spiritual cannibalism we as sinful humans all struggle with? We may never resort to physical cannibalism, but do we spiritually cannibalize others who are different from us?

This spiritual cannibalism brought to mind Paul’s words to the church at Galatia: “If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed” (Galatians 5:15).

Life in the Spirit and becoming more and more like Christ is not an easy, straight-forward process. It is messy; it can be disorienting; it can raise a whole lot more questions than provide answers. Unfortunately our tendency is not to embrace said process but to look for shortcuts or easier means. Along the way we are tempted to think that these shortcuts are the means of sanctification and require others to adopt the same. If not, they can be ostracized from the community…devoured and destroyed…instead of “serving one another in love” (Galatians 5:14).

What am I doing that might be cannibalizing others? What practices/ideologies/theologies of the church might be cannibalistic in nature?

Hospitality and Being with Others

“Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love,” John 13:1.

So begins Jesus’ last night with his closest friends in which he washes their feet, shares Passover with them, inaugurates the Eucharist and gives them their marching orders for when he is gone.

What always astounds me about the Passover meal Jesus shares with his disciples is the very fact that Jesus decides to share it with his friends who are about to betray and desert him. Peter is there—the disciple who swears up and down that he will never, ever, in a million years betray Jesus. And we all know how that worked out for Peter. And yet Jesus still washes Peter’s feet and extends to him the bread and the cup.

But more astounding to me is the presence of Judas. The same Judas whom Satan had already convinced to betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. And yet, Jesus, knowing all that was about to happen, still washes Judas’ feet and as far as I can tell extends the cup and bread to Judas.

I wonder how this passage can speak into our theology of personhood and hospitality. I wonder what this passage means for my theology of strangers, and even more so, my theology of enemies. Who are my enemies? What is my responsibility towards them? And bigger still what should the stance of the Church be towards those we disagree with?

I wonder when it comes to specifically the issue of homosexuality, which seems to be the issue for the Evangelical church right now, why is this passage never talked about? Shouldn’t the fact that Jesus washed Judas’ feet on the very night Judas betrayed him somehow inform what it means to be with others? And if so in what ways?

Jesus never excused sin; he actually upped the ante. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus redefined sin that makes me, and everyone I come in contact with, guilty of murder and adultery. When Jesus meets with the woman at the well in the Gospel of John, he calls out her behavior as sin. And when the woman caught in adultery later in the same gospel is alone with Jesus after all of her accusers have left, Jesus tells her, “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

But what compels these women to leave their lives of sin is not judgment and rejection and a hard-line stance, but rather a radical, life-altering experience of love. They realize that, contrary to their culture, they are so much more than their sin, and that they are loved even in their sin.

What is so hard for me to wrap my heart around is that Jesus knew that Judas was not going to repent, and yet he still opened the door of hospitality to Judas till the very last minute. Till the very last minute Jesus was inviting Judas into love; Jesus never stopped inviting Judas into love.

In his book Reaching Out, Henri Nouwen describes hospitality in this way:

Hospitality, therefore, means primarily the creation of a free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place. It is not to bring men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by dividing lines. It is not to lead our neighbor into a corner where there are not alternatives left, but to open a wide spectrum of options for choice and commitment. It is not an educated intimidation with good books, good stories and good works, but the liberation of fearful hearts so that words can find roots and bear ample fruit. It is not a method of making our God and our way into the criteria of happiness, but the opening of an opportunity to others to find their God and their way. The paradox of hospitality is that it wants to create emptiness, not a fearful emptiness, but a friendly emptiness where strangers can enter and discover themselves as created free; free to sing their own songs, speak their own languages, dance their own dances; free also to leave and follow their own vocations. Hospitality is not a subtle invitation to adopt the life style of the host, but the gift of a chance for the guest to find his own. (pp. 71-72)

This view of hospitality is scary and raises more questions than answers, but we have to be okay with the questions instead of thinking everything is so cut and dry.

I really do not know what it means that Jesus washes Judas’ feet and Peter’s feet, but I at least want to ask the question. And I want to dialogue with others about what this means.

An Ode to Potatoes

Potatoes. They seem so innocent. So cheap. So accessible. So versatile. Providing starch to any meal. Oh so comforting. But healthy?

Ponder with me for a moment the most common uses for a potato:

  • French fries
  • Potato chips
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Scalloped potatoes or Potatoes au Gratin
  • Hashbrowns
  • Baked potatoes
  • Roasted potatoes

French fries and potato chips…enough said. Next.

Mashed potatoes. I am sorry but what makes mashed potatoes so tasty is not the potato. Have you ever tried mashed potatoes with no butter or fat added? They are repulsive. The key ingredient in good mashed potatoes is butter, and lots of it. The famous chef Joël Robuchon is known worldwide for his incredible potatoes. He found that the best ratio of potatoes to butter is a 2 to 1 ratio. For every two pounds of potatoes, he uses one pound of butter. It takes that much butter to make mashed potatoes taste good.

Scalloped Potatoes or Potatoes au Gratin. Look at the ingredient list – potatoes, cream, cheese. Why do we like this dish? Probably not because of the potatoes. This dish was probably invented by an old country mom who had served her family potatoes one too many times. Not only were they tired of potatoes, she was also out of butter, but realized that she had a plethora of cream and cheese at her disposal. In a moment of sheer brilliance she tricks her family into eating potatoes for the umpteenth time by cooking them in cream and cheese and at the last minute adding more cheese to the top.

Hashbrowns. The best are those that are crispy on the outside but tender and fluffy on the inside. But the only way to crisp them up is to use butter. And you know what makes hashbrowns even better? An over easy egg in which the yolk becomes the perfect sauce for hashbrowns. Either that, or they are smothered in ketchup, not as bad as butter or a yolk, but not exactly health food. Let’s not forget what hashbrowns are typically served with…eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, biscuits and gravy. Those hashbrowns definitely make up for those four pieces of bacon, three over easy eggs and the short stack of pancakes.

Baked potatoes. On their own, they look innocent and healthy enough. And in an ideal world, they probably are healthy. Plus baked sounds healthier. Better than fried…right? “So waiter, I will have the baked potato, but could I get that with butter, sour cream, bacon bits, and did you mention you had chili? Some of that too then. And maybe just a little cheese as I am really trying to watch what I eat.”

Roasted potatoes. These are definitely the healthiest of the bunch, but my problem with roasted potatoes is that they really only taste good that first minute out of the oven. You know exactly what I am talking about. Perfectly crisped on the outside while tender and fluffy on the inside. But try that same potato five minutes later and I would swear that some weird voodoo stuff was put upon the potato as there is no way that is the same potato I tasted mere moments ago. So while healthier than every other iteration of potato, they suffer from not being fried, mixed with a lot of butter or cooked in cream and cheese.

I am therefore left to draw the only reasonable conclusion from all of this: Potatoes exist to be a conduit for fat and lots of it.

Dinner at Forage Restaurant

One of the most exciting, current food trends is allowing the local to shape the nature of a restaurant’s cuisine. Restaurants in Europe, like Noma and Faviken, have been instrumental in spearheading this movement, and now other chefs in the United States are incorporating this philosophy into how they cook. This trend is a very localized farm-to-table movement, where all the details of the restaurant are shaped by this philosophy. (An aside: I am fascinated by how this trend has appeared at the height of the molecular gastronomy movement in cuisine.)

Forage Restaurant in Salt Lake City is presenting cuisine connected with the terrior of Utah, and after a meal there this past Saturday, it is very exciting.

Forage has been on my radar even before moving to Utah. I think I first heard of Forage when the chefs (Viet Pham and Bowman Brown at the time) were nominated for a James Beard award. Viet Pham left Forage in September 2012 to pursue his own restaurant (he has appeared on Food Network a couple of times). Since then, Chef Brown has put his unique spin on the menu paying more careful attention to what Utah offers and trying to look deeply at the question, “What can this place offer? And how can I respect the ingredients?”

For my birthday my parents’ gift to me was money so that Claire and I could enjoy an evening at Forage. I had not been this excited about a meal in a really long time, and was slightly worried that my expectations would be too high and I would be let down. Thankfully, that was not the case in the least; the team at Forage gave us one of the best meals I have ever enjoyed, and definitely the best dining experience in Utah.

Forage only offers a tasting menu, which can be accompanied by wine pairings or non-alcoholic juice pairings. I opted for the wine pairings with each course, while Claire had the juice pairings. When you dine at Forage, I think this is the way to go as the juices were unique and delicious and definitely not an afterthought to the wine (actually in some courses, we both preferred the juice pairing to the wine pairing). The wine pairings were unique and allowed me to try some new wines, like a sparkling Malbec and a dry Gewurztraminer.

(The pictures do not do the food justice, but I was not going to spend 15 minutes to get a great picture of each dish.)

The meal started with five amuse bouches.

Apple and Woodruff

apple and woodruff with fermented honey (this was fresh pressed warm apple cider, quite possibly the best apple cider I have tasted)

Elderberry and Beet

elderberry and beet (beet puree inside of elderberry leather. Thankfully the beet was not overly sweet, so it was a nice bite of the earthy beet with the elderberry fruit)

Crispy Potato

crispy potato with chicken liver mousse (the chicken liver was very subdued and approachable)

Kale with Juniper

kale with juniper (this dish was presented to the table with a glass dome on top, so that when the server lifted the lid, the aroma of the smoking juniper branches engulfed us. The kale was presented as chips and sandwiched between was an egg yolk puree, adding a nice richness to the smokiness of the dish)

Elk and Buckwheat

elk with buckwheat (elk heart tartar with watercress and creme fraiche, served with homemade buckwheat crackers. The flavor of the tartar was quite subdued, I would have liked a stronger flavor from the heart, which felt overpowered by the cracker, but still very tasty)

All of the amuse bouches were excellent, but our favorite had to be the apple and woodruff, if only because a fresh cup of hot apple cider is just so hard to beat. The amuses came quite quickly; I wish they had been spaced out a little more so that we could truly savor each unique bite.

Bread with Local Butter

Before the main courses arrived, we were presented with homemade bread and butter made locally at Gold Creek Farms.

Crayfish and Late Tomatoes

crayfish with late tomatoes (this dish surprised me as it was presented cold. The tomatoes are presented here as ice, but with a super concentrated flavor. Underneath were two nuggets of crayfish with a crayfish panna cotta underneath.)

Fresh Roe and Potatoes with Elderberry Capers

fresh roe and potatoes with elderberry capers (a perfectly cooked potato, displaying a lovely butteriness to it, topped with fresh trout roe and cream. Potatoes, roe, cream…classic combination and for good reason.)

Young Roots, Stems, Leaves, with Fruit Vinegar

young roots, stems, leaves, with fruit vinegar (baby carrots and beets on top of a perfectly sublime parsnip puree, finished with a homemade fruit vinegar. Perfectly executed fall vegetables)

Oats and Turnips with Mushrooms

oats and turnips with mushrooms (a full on assault of umami in this course. The previous course and this course fully encapsulated the broad range of fall flavors and the beauty of this time)

Duck with Black Gooseberries

duck with black gooseberries, onion, black bread (this was not on the menu but a special course. The skin on the duck was crackling-esque, while the flavor of the duck was so deep and rich, tempered by the fruit and the lightly pickled onions)

Trout with a Sauce of its Bones

trout with a sauce of its bones (the trout was lightly smoked but still incredibly moist, topped with a briny sauce and New Zealand spinach. The combination of smoke and brine was really quite delightful)

Beef with Cabbage and Wild Onion

beef from pleasant mountain with cabbage and wild onion (beef shoulder sous vide for 48 hours in beef fat with cabbage and onion puree. The cabbage was sweeter than most cabbage I have had before, but still with a slight bitter edge, but really helped to balance the richness of the beef)

I have a hard time picking a favorite main course as they were all executed with such precision and offered unique flavors and textures. Not to mention the order and progression was great.

Frozen Quince and Green Juniper

frozen quince and green juniper (the first dessert was a quince and marshmallow sorbet topped with juniper and lemon verbana. Claire and I both loved this dessert as it was light and refreshing, serving almost like a palate cleanser)

Toasted Acorn

toasted acorn (acorn cake, acorn custard, ground toasted acorns and a salted yogurt)

I really appreciated that both desserts were not overly sweet, but again well balanced with differing textures.

I cannot reiterate how much I loved dining at Forage. It is exciting to see Chef Brown and his team doing something completely unique in terms of a dining experience in Utah.