This week I enjoyed one of the most delicious meals I’ve ever had. It was at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville where one might expect such rare culinary experiences. This special dinner was part of the Museum’s Food Series CR(EAT)E.


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The meal was unusual from start to finish.   The Museum’s renowned Chef Bill Lyle incorporated locally grown foods that we could all acquire from the downtown Bentonville Farmer’s Market, fresh and in season.


Niki Stewart and Bill Lyle

Nicki Dallison, Bentonville Farmer’s Market Manager, and Chef Bill Lyle

Photo Credit: Niki Stewart


First glance at the menu signaled what could only be exotic ingredients and yet these foods were all grown locally…


Farm to Table Menu


The Gazpacho Trio was a silky white, zesty green, and chunky red gazpacho layered and topped with cilantro-lime crème fraiche and crisp bread.


Bazpacho Trio

Gazpacho Trio

Photo Credit: Niki Stewart


Smoked Trout Cake was the next course – a pan-seared, cherry-smoked trout cake over pickled fennel, bacon, and arugula salad with smoked mustard seed vinaigrette.


Smoked Trout Cake

Smoked Trout Cake

Photo Credit: Niki Stewart


Then came the Lamb Kabobs – Grilled grass-fed lamb kabobs with chevre and lemongrass cream, herb-roasted beet, and caramelized carrot and fresh curry leaf puree.


Lamb Kabobs

Lamb Kabobs

Photo Credit: Niki Stewart


And the pièce de résistance was a Blueberry Cheesecake, which was a New York style cheesecake served deconstructed over rum and vanilla bean macerated blueberries, topped with fresh thyme-infused whipped cream and a steel-cut oat cookie.


Blueberry Cheesecake

Blueberry Cheesecake

Photo Credit: Niki Stewart


Something about the fresh flavors, the demonstration of each course by the expert yet funny chef, the beautiful setting, and the way all the words rolled off the tongue so easily by everyone but me….made this one of the most delicious, delightful, memorable evenings ever.

You may be wondering by now how retelling this delightful dinner experience relates to UpstreamMatters of any kind. But the fact that this magnificent dinner was meal was “Farm to Table In the Ozarks.”  Yes, the ingredients for this exotic menu were locally grown and made this dinner a REAL FARM TO TABLE meal!

“When we buy local food we get to experience food on a different level,” says Nicki Dallison. “We become friends with the very people that planted the seed, took care of it and brought it to us to eat. We talk to the farmers face to face and visit their farm, learning from them and teaching others. We support small family farms by spending our money locally. The money we spend with our friends who are farmers may help them buy a tractor or pay for college. By purchasing local food we begin to eat like our ancestors, real, unprocessed and from the earth. Memories and traditions are created, memories of the first juicy tomato and traditions of eating the first watermelon with the whole family. When we know our farmer we being to know our food and understand the interconnectedness of our lives and this beautiful Earth.


Local Farms

Five local farmers contributed ingredients for this one of a kind meal

Rios Family Farm (LOTS of veggies)

Ewe Bet Farm (lamb)

Canyon Ridge Farm (Goat cheese)

Rocky Comfort Natural Farm (heirloom, certified natural grown)

Blue Heaven Farm (blueberries)



The Food Series caught my eye probably because summer months in the “bread basket” region of the country brings food to mind everywhere we look. The CR(EAT)E series also caught my eye because it synced with an article in the May National Geographic magazine that begins an 8-part series titled EAT: The New Food Revolution.

The NATGEO series The Future of Food Nat Geo  begins with the question “Where will we find enough food for 9 billion? By 2050 we’ll need to feed TWO BILLION MORE people than we do today. This special eight-month series explores how we can do that – without overwhelming the planet.


Food is essential for life. How the food for the world is produced is one of the most important land and water resource challenges we all face.  With 7 billion people on the planet to feed today and 2 billion more in 30 years, requires the very best we have to offer from the scientific community and the agricultural community. Balancing the ever growing demand for food requires the wise use of our natural resources to sustain both people and planet.


I’m intrigued and plan to follow along with   Visit National Geographic for an interesting sneak preview.  And join NatGeo and IRWP’s for more tasty morsels to “chew on”!   Nothing touches closer to home in our daily lives than daily bread and water for life.


Additional Resources:

Crystal Bridges CR(EAT)E Food Series

National Geographic The Future of Food

Crystal Bridges Food Blog



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