Agritourism entered my radar via The New York Times and my friends over at Eating the World. People can show up to participating farms and have a full course meal made with ingredients grown on site. The idea of something that viscerally fresh and immediately inspired piqued my interest. Plus, these places were in Italy. Italy always has my attention. Little did I know, Gathering Together Farm – makers of the best damn doughnuts I’ve ever had and a mere 15 minute drive to Philomath – is one such location.

Picture from "Barn and Table" - front of the house

Picture from “Barn and Table” – front of the house

Dinner service is held only on Thursday and Friday, so when Professor X announced that we should go out for our anniversary, which we both forgot, we decided to wait a little longer to celebrate. We already missed it by two days after all.

Photo from "Oregon Live" - note the pizza oven

Photo from “Oregon Live” – note the pizza oven

We were seated next to the pizza oven, which Professor X found fascinating. While we waited for our food, I remarked that I want to build a small-scale version if we ever have our own backyard. Just as I was about to compromise on chickens and a goat in exchange for a brick oven, the appetizers arrived.

For him: salumi plate of duck rillette, duck liver pate, and pork and pistacho terrine.
For me: antipasti trio of melon with mint and sea salt, chioggia beet salad with balsamic and mint, eggplant and celery salad with balsamic and oregano. Both came with house bread drizzled lightly with olive oil.

(I’ll skip a detailed taste description because you can only use word like “fresh” and “local” so many times before you sound like a wank. We may have moved to the West coast, but we remain staunchly urban Midwest in many respects, as odd as that sounds when one considers that he grew up in India. From here on out, assume it was all amazing.)

Something flitted by our window out of the darkness as the entrees arrived. “Oh look. A bat,” I murrmurred.

“What?!” said Professor X.

“A bat. Out there,” I replied casually over my wineglass.

He began to check for gaps in the sliding glass doors. The country still freaks him out a bit.

Main for him: flat iron steak (medium well) over smashed potatoes with green beans and basil aioli. (Ed. note: Professor X says the potatoes could use a touch more salt.)
Main for me: leg of lamb (medium rare) over polenta with zucchini and tomatoes.

We had assured the waitress that we’d get dessert, but, when it came time, there was no way we could cram anymore food into our face holes. The selections that night included strawberry something with creme anglaise and chocolate something else with creme chantilly. We finished our wine and wandered off to the car, where we stared at the sky; counting stars we still aren’t used to seeing on a regular basis between snippets of why the American military tends to fail at land wars in Asia.

Overall, Gathering Together Farm’s dinner service was smashing. That semi-open air dining room with paper lanterns and fairy lights thing is totally my idea of a romantic environment. Their menu changes every week based on what’s harvested and what they can get from their livestock suppliers, so please don’t arrive expecting to find exactly what we had. You can count on Italian and French themes prepared with elegance and simplicity. They also have main selections for everyone: poultry such as duck or chicken, fish, beef or pork, and a vegetarian option. Pizzas are available as well. Appetizers are between $5 and $8. Mains range from $12 to $19.

Oh! And Ygal was right. The service is great; not Corvallis great where you’re content with receiving the right order while it’s still hot and before you starve to death, but the kind that you would expect in fine dining establishments elsewhere.

Gathering Together Farm is located at 25159 Grange Hall Rd, Philomath, OR, 97370. Lunch is served from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Tuesday through Friday. Dinner is on Thursday and Friday, from 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. They also have breakfast on Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Do visit the farm stand as well – Tuesday to Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. – for fresh pastries, bread, fruits, veg, and locally raised meat. If you can’t get out to Philomath, Gathering Together Farm sets up at farmers markets around the Willamette Valley. Check the website –!markets/c18vh – for details.