Fall has descended on us bringing with it the rush and excitement of the holiday season. While fall is a time of unparalleled beauty and a final reset before the last stretch of the year, the holidays can be filled with urgency and anxiety. Instead of bending to the stress of being the picture perfect host or world class chef, we’re in favor of slowing down, easing up on your holiday responsibilities, sharing the workload and enjoying the time you have to gather with those dearest to you. A Daily Something's Rebecca Gallop wanted to slow down to celebrate the bounty of fall with an unexpected seasonal dinner: serve charcuterie and accoutrements as the main course. Her vision was to bring the community together for a French countryside dinner that served local goods and produce, wine included, down the stretch of the table for a casual, communal evening.
The 18th-century colonial farmhouse turned bed & breakfast known as Ballenger Farm in Virginia served as the setting for this gathering complete with a moss covered house, secret gardens and twinkling lights. Comprised of mismatched chairs, a variety of collected vessels holding seasonal florals and greens, and the star of the show, the charcuterie spread serving as “a veritable cornucopia table runner,” the dinner was underway. We caught up with Rebecca about the connections that were formed, the casual design and even got her grocery list that you can use for your Thanksgiving gathering. And her secret to hosting success? Accepting help from others!
What inspired you to host this dinner?
A Countryside Repast, celebrating the perfect intersection of summer and autumn. About one month ago, this magical dinner happened. My heart was so incredibly full after this A Daily Gathering countryside dinner that it took me a few weeks to write some words down and make my way through the simply magical photos sent by Jess. This day holds such a special place in my heart. It was my first official “A Daily Gathering” event since I found out I was pregnant with Jojo, which was way back in January of 2017. I had such high hopes for this dinner. I had an image of what I wanted this dinner to be. A French countryside dinner, alongside an old stone house. Lush gardens. Open fields with animals. An open door leading into a dimly lit kitchen. Celebrating the best of summer while welcoming autumn season.
Tell us about this venue and why you chose it.
I searched and searched for a location and then a friend suggested Ballenger Farm. Ballenger Farm is just that place I had stored away in my mind. An 18th-century colonial farmhouse turned bed & breakfast. Rolling hills. Secret gardens. Goats, chickens, the most protective and loving guard dog. Ponds, ducks, a dilapidated spring house covered in moss. A charming courtyard full of lush greenery, blooming petals, and twinkle lights. The perfect setting to create this dinner.
Food is always the focus of gatherings. What inspired your menu?
I wanted to do something different – even unconventional – for this dinner. I wanted to serve cheese and charcuterie and accouterments as the dinner. I wanted it to span the length of the long table, a veritable cornucopia table runner. I wanted everyone to just dig in directly in front of where they were sitting, and ask for different elements to be passed. I wanted to encourage a very intimate experience with your neighbor and with the food.
If you know me, you know I love a great appetizer cheese board. I use them over and over again. As a family, we even eat cheese & charcuterie for dinner, quite frequently. As I was planning out this A Daily Gathering menu, I thought, why can’t I do this for an A Daily Gathering dinner? I was scared it wouldn’t be enough. It wouldn’t be well-received. But I decided to go with it.
We planned out the most incredibly abundant display of cheese and charcuterie and accouterments, and what a beautiful, delicious dinner it was! And we prepared for about 80 people, although we were only feeding 25. Oh well, we were sustained by cheese board leftovers for over a week!
What is your favorite part of hosting gatherings like this? Why do you continue hosting?
This dinner turned out to be more wonderful than I ever imagined. I love that moment of go-time. After months of tedious planning, hours of list-making and dishwashing and packing, grocery shopping, the farmers’ market run, and oh so much food prep. Then it’s finally here! The setup and then the eager anticipation of our guests’ arrival fill me with so much joy.
I never know who’s going to join us around the table. I never know who’s going to read a description on Instagram, and then believe in A Daily Gathering and me enough to click “purchase.” I never know who I’m going to be hugging goodbye, feeling like we’re old friends. But time and again, the most wonderful people sit around the table. We laugh, we sometimes even cry. We share memories, we talk about our lives, what we do, what we want to do. We pass the food. We talk about food. We ask for food to be passed again. We share something of ourselves, and we are filled to the brim. I’m so thankful to each and every person, and I cannot wait to gather around the table again!
What is your secret to dinner party success?
I could never, ever host my A Daily Gatherings without help from so many people. The team in the kitchen (Marina, Christiana, Vienna, Lauren), my incredible photographer Jess, videographer Jen, Liz at Ballenger, and the guys who helped set things up. And of course, Amanda and her husband Posido and their surprise mini house show. You guys, those two can play and sing like no other.
Creative Director & Stylist: Rebecca Gallop | Venue: Ballenger Farm | Wine: Walsh Family Wine & North Gate Vineyard | Flowers: Greenstone Fields | Photographer: LaRue Photography | Videographer: Jen Eun | Music: Amanda & Posido Vega | Local Cheese: Catoctin Creamery | Baguettes + Croissants: Petite Lou Lou | Local Pickles: Number 1 Sons | Rebecca's Dress: Shop Nostalgia
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