"This is dirt therapy," says Tiffany Lase, general manager of Noble Riot
, at 1336 27th Street. "I run a wine bar, live on South Broadway, bike-commute to work and have a ten-year-old, so being able to step into this is great for my head space."
The dirt she's referring to is a plot of land at New Moon Farms
in Boulder County, which is owned by Ann Mattson, cousin of Scott Mattson, who, along with his wife, Nicole, owns Noble Riot and its sister restaurant next door, Nocturne Jazz & Supper Club
"Being able to produce fresh food is really important when trying to make a dent in our broken food system," Lase adds. At Nocturne, produce from the garden appears in such dishes as roast duck on a bed of puréed turnip and heirloom tomatoes, or as fresh herbs mixed into chimichurri.
The farm-fresh veggies will be the highlight of a special farm-to-table dinner from 6 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, October 5, at Noble Riot. The Somm's Table Dinner: Austrian Harvest Party will include five courses, each paired with a different wine, for $135 per person. (Tickets are still available on Tock
This small stretch of land bursting with cherry tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, corn, sunflowers and celeriac was all planted and harvested by Nicole Mattson and her staff, as a way to both source fresh food for the menus and provide a break from the restaurant world for employees. Dustin Beckner, Nocturne's culinary director,
consulted on what to grow, and Lase, who has a minor in urban agriculture, executed the planting plan and does a lot of the garden's upkeep.
Harvesting tomatoes for Nocturne Jazz & Supper Club.
New Moon Farms is a beautiful three-acre plot full of produce, hops, apples, chickens and goats, as well as two greenhouses and a small roadside farm stand in front of the venue at 3298 95th Street in Boulder. Ann Mattson stocks the stand a few times a week. She also helps out with Nocturne's plot, and has worked with Lase to design it. But for the most part, she lets the team from the restaurants manage the space, supplementing their produce with her own when needed.
"We have always [gotten] great stuff from here," says Beckner as he plucks yellow pear-shaped tomatoes from the vines. "And we haven't purchased tomatoes in six weeks."
Growing food like this is new for the restaurants. While they have worked with Ann to get her vegetables and herbs before, this is the first year the staff has done its own work there. And after a successful first year, it's something Lase wants to do again. In a way, she says, growing produce in small, experimental batches at the farm mimics how grape growers work with unique fruits and planting techniques. Nicole and her team are already discussing what to plant and what they want to serve at the restaurant in 2022.
"More peppers and more herbs," she says.
"Definitely herbs," Beckner adds. "They are the most money per pound, and from a financial aspect, it definitely helps."
For now, the amateur farmers are just happy to be outside, connecting to the soil and food.