Special celebrations at out-of-the-box places
Sarah Worden’s seasonal flowers dress up the setting.
By Douglas Foulke
Cool days, starry nights—there’s something about this time of year that encourages parties and celebrations. And with so many new venues for entertaining, it’s fun to plan something stylish, easy, and crowd-pleasing—whether that crowd is ten, 100, or more. So stow the usual barbecue fare. There are tastier delights to be had at a fun party place nearby.
Take the White Barn at South Farms, for example, which fits the bill beautifully. Located in Morris, CT on Higbie Road, South Farms has been owned by the Paletsky family for nearly 70 years and spans four generations. Its 150-acre homestead features an iconic 20,000-square-foot dairy barn surrounded by picturesque, open pastures. Under the stewardship of Ben Paletsky, grandson of the founder, the White Barn at South Farms has been re-created, offering a venue for many diverse events.
“We’ve tried to make the space special and still maintain the integrity of the farm,” says Paletsky. “For instance, we designed and built a collection of South Farms’ fire-roasted farm tables. Their chocolate-amber-color finish was achieved by burning the wood, a process derived from a traditional Japanese wood-finishing technique. The table legs are pinstriped with steel from the barn’s original cattle stanchions recessed into the legs.”
These tables are used for dining or as stations for buffets, as they were for a Litchfield Magazine party to celebrate Litchfield County’s Most Influential People. A collection of mismatched chairs completes the ambiance and complements the venue’s rustic essence. The smaller room at the entrance is ideal for cocktail chatter, while the larger room affords ample space for setting up food stations.
While South Farms does not have catering facilities, the staff is helpful in making suggestions. For this occasion, Ciesco Catering Company in Torrington, under the direction of owner Charlene Goodman Dutka (pictured left), worked its magic to create delicious finger food and hors d’oeuvres that were passed. “In keeping with the rustic theme, we used disposable bamboo serving pieces,” says Dutka. “When we plan food, we always look at the season and use what is fresh and available. So we came up with tempting treats like pork-tenderloin crostini with rhubarb and mustard, asparagus tarts, crab cakes, chicken satay, and lemon shortbread with a goat-cheese spread.”
The grazing table included various cheeses, hummus with beets, fruits, and raw vegetables in an array of colors. Every palate was sated. No party is complete without an assortmen of libations, supplied here by County Wine and Spirits in New Preston, under the new ownership of Laurie and Dennis White. Cold, crisp rosé and white wines, a soft red wine, and a selection of beers and nonalcoholic drinks quenched every thirst. “It was a great selection of wines,” said one guest.
The food and the people really are the décor, but there have to be flowers, too. Sarah Worden, owner and designer of her eponymous floral-design company, supplied exquisite blossom arrangements for the fête. “I wanted to keep it simple and lush, and stand-alone seasonal blooms are always the way to go,” Worden says.
“Using local foliage helps give the arrangements a natural look, suitable for a farm event, and I used silver julep cups and mossy stone urns as containers. But marmalade jars, vintage pottery, and ceramic ware also make great containers.” During the course of the party, guests wandered outside to enjoy the rural environment and walk some of the property.
The White Barn is still in its infancy, and Paletsky is at the drawing board contemplating the next expansion. “We’re hoping to evolve the property and add more offerings and expand our partnerships. The first notable improvement will be to add a commercial kitchen. This will help to enhance our ability to host a wider variety of events throughout the season and begin to offer some additional in-house programming. I’m considering a model where the kitchen space could be co-shared by a portfolio of food-based businesses,” says Paletsky.