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I’ll say this for Arkansas Times publisher Alan Leveritt: when the boss decides to throw a party, he doesn’t play around. The event was the latest Arkansas Times Farm-to-Table dinner, with the farm in question being Leveritt’s own, from where the lambs we feasted on came, brought to the table with loving care by Butcher and Public’s Travis McConnell.

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The setting was the grounds of the Historic Arkansas Museum, a quiet island of history and foliage that made for an excellent setting for the dinner. The weather was just the sort of October night that makes Arkansas the greatest place to be in the autumn, and we were treated to the music of Stephen Koch of Arkansongs as we mingled, made new friends, and attacked the iced down beer and champagne.

Stephen Koch

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Of course farming ain’t always pretty — and neither is butchery, as the almost medieval setup Travis used to slow roasts the lambs attests. In person, the delicious smell of lamb brushed with chilies, herb, and olive oil was so fantastic that all I could think of was how hungry I was getting; posting a picture of the roasting setup to Facebook without the added delightful aromas may have creeped more than a couple of people out. I make no apologies.

We started off with appetizers of Lamb Tartare and Pickled Deviled Eggs, two things I’d never had before. The eggs had been soaked in vinegar after being boiled and peeled, which gave them a tart kick that I enjoyed. The tartare was quite good, although I admit that it took a little doing for me to take the first bite of the raw meat minced with oil and herbs — but I was immediately glad I did, and helped myself to another (and then to another).

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When we all finally settled into our seats, we were treated to a fantastic stew of pumpkin and shiitake mushrooms, something that the table agreed was a highlight of the meal. A mixed green salad gave a fresh addition to the plate, and our table found themselves complimenting the chef once again when the Arkansas dirty rice came out with nice texture and a good flavor from the lambs’ liver. The lamb itself was tender and paired nicely with Travis’ signature chimichurri. Dessert came courtesy of Loblolly Creamery, and by that time the wine and music had gone to all our heads and we danced and laughed until late in the evening.

Join me down there beneath the jump for some more pictures from the event, and if you feel like you missed out on a great party (and you did), you have a chance to make up for it at the Arkansas Times Craft Beer Festival on November 1st — that’s sure to be a fun one, too. Ticket information here.

Travis McConnell stokes the fire

Processing the finished lambs

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