A fresh spin on nostalgic entertaining, courtesy of Rose Story Farm’s Danielle Hahn.
Set a couple of miles inland from Carpinteria’s famous waves, past avocado orchards and up a dusty country-lane road, lies the enchanted Rose Story Farm, a 15-acre oasis blanketed with 30,000 rose bushes presided over by Danielle Hahn, a recent recipient of the elite title Great Rosarian of the World.
It’s the sort of setting befitting a royal wedding (and the working farm did historically serve as the backdrop for many fairy-tale nuptials), but currently Hahn, who distributes her flowers to local Santa Barbara and Montecito markets as well as all over the continental U.S., reserves the property for more intimate events like today’s celebration—guests from Santa Barbara and Los Angeles have gathered for the birthday of one of her close friends.
The tables are set for 60 with vintage plates, heirloom linens and pink centerpieces full of nonfragrant flowers—so as not to compete with the food: a menu crafted by Hahn’s like-minded collaborator, chef Valerie Rice of the blog Eat Drink Garden. “Val has my same sensibilities about fresh produce; everything comes from my garden or hers,” says Hahn.
Dishes of chicken with salsa verde, gem salad with green goddess dressing, spring vegetable quinoa, and bright beets with oranges are accented with seasonal ingredients such as green garlic, Meyer lemon, radishes and French tarragon, and plated buffet-style on fig leaves from Hahn’s garden.
As guests clink strawberry shrub and mint cocktails (“The shrub is my savior,” says Rice of her mixology leanings) and admire a coconut cake studded with roses, there is yet another welcome addition to the alfresco lunch: a surprise operatic performance by one of Hahn’s sons, Geoff (a recent graduate of the combined program at The Juilliard School and Columbia University who flew out for the occasion)—an inspired touch that, like everything, fits with Hahn’s homegrown philosophy.
“One hundred percent of my flowers and most of the food are from the garden,” she says. “I haven’t bought a single flower in years.”
By Jennifer Blaise Kramer.
Photographed by Nancy Neil.