Roving Portland Supper Club Goes Camping

October 22, 2015 by

Meadowlark_Heikkila-table_urbangardensweb_614Photo: Steve Heikkila

When some good friends of theirs organized a camping trip for 13 people at a private campsite at Cape Arago on the Oregon coast, Meadowlark partners Jen Datka and Emily Park knew instantly it would be the site of their dream event: an intimate candlelit multi-course dinner laid out in the woods under a canopy of Brewer Spruce trees.

Burk-campsite_meadowlark__urbangardensweb_614Photo: Brian Burk

Friends from four states gathered for a nine-course meal typical of the mobile supper club’s themed made-from-scratch meals. Meadowlark’s menus are always as varied as their locations, each offering a sustainably sourced, seasonal menu set in convivial atmosphere complete with white tablecloths, ceramic dishes, real glassware, and as much local meat, produce, and dairy as they can get their hands on.

Meadowlark_Heikkila-Jen-plating_urbangardensweb_614Photo: Steve Heikkila

Despite the remote location, they pulled out all the stops including airlifting a cooler filled with smoked ice cubes used in pre-dinner cocktails.

meadowlark_Heikkila-cocktail_urbangardensweb_614Photo: Steve Heikkila

meadowlark_airplane_delivery_urbangardensweb_614Photo: Steve Heikkila

Jen’s boyfriend, Brian, flew the cooler in a four-seater airplane to the North Bend airport, then the next morning everyone enjoyed plane rides up and down the Oregon coast.

meadowlark_Heikkila-Emily-plating_urbangardenswebPhoto: Steve Heikkila

meadowlark_Heikkila-padrons_urbangardensweb_614Photo: Steve Heikkila

Jen and Emily, who describe themselves as having a strong DIY ethic, met in Brooklyn before being lured to Portland for its unparalleled food scene, beautiful natural environment, and creative, DIY spirit. All of those components were present at their campsite soirée where the duo took full advantage of camp-style cooking on the grill to whip up an Argentinian cook-out, or asado.

meadowlark_Heikkila-salads_urbangardensweb_614Photo: Steve Heikkila

Menu highlights included house-smoked mussels with oregano & parsley aioli, two flavors of homemade empanadas and grilled flank steak with two sauces.

meadowlark_Heikkila-flank-steak_urbangardensweb_614Photo: Steve Heikkila

For dessert, they assembled s’mores fixings–and we’re not talking store-bought ingredients–featuring dulce de leche for “an Argentinian touch.”

meadowlark_Heikkila-grilled-vegetables_urbangardensweb_614Photo: Steve Heikkila

Emily composed the graham crackers and marshmallows, while Jen cold-smoked dark chocolate bars and melted them into thin, “sea salt-kissed discs” designed to melt on contact with the hot marshmallow. Drooling yet?

meadowlarkHeikkila-crostini_urbangardensweb_614Photo: Steve Heikkila

meadowlark_Burk-salad_urbangardenswebPhoto: Brian Burk

The Complete Cape Arago Menu
• smoked mussels on grilled homemade bread with herbed aioli and Malbec-glazed red onions
• chicken, chorizo & green olive, poblano & fresh corn empanadas with jalapeno-cilantro dipping sauce
• cape arago cocktail with bourbon, yerba mate syrup, peaches & smoked ice-cube
• grilled peach & padron salad with ricotta salata, pepitas & red onion
• grilled flank steak with chimichurri and argentine sauce gribiche
• vegetarian option: proveleta with mushrooms and tomatoes
• smashed potatoes with tapenade
• grilled summer vegetables with chimichurri
• house made s’mores with dulce de leche and smoked chocolate

jen_emily_meadowlark_supper_club_urbangardnesweb_614Photo via Meadowlark.

The Ladies Behind the Bird
A graduate of the Oregon Culinary Institute, Jen Datka describes herself as a budding charcuterie nerd, and evangelist for local produce. In addition to putting on Meadowlark dinners, she recently completed an internship at Nostrana, the most fabulous Italian restaurant in Portland. A dedicated social justice advocate, her professional background also includes several years of organizing CSAs in low-income neighborhoods for Just Food, a food justice organization based in New York City.

A food book editor and self-described intrepid home cook, artisan bread baker known for nurturing her sourdough starter, Emily Park enjoys exploring culinary traditions from around the world, especially the rustic edges of cuisines from the Mediterranean to East Asia. Fascinated by the magical process by which microbes transform raw ingredients into something delicious, Emily is also an avid fermenter and home brewer.

Next Up: A Harvest Dinner at Portland Urban Winery
Meadowlark celebrates fall with their next event, Saturday, October 24–a collaborative Harvest Dinner at The Hip Chicks Do Wine winery–Portland’s oldest winery and Willamette Week‘s 2015 reader’s choice for best urban winery (and how can you resist a winery with that name?)  The wine-paired three-course meal will feature a crispy pork shoulder confit after a first course of warm chanterelle salad with house made duck prosciutto, chicories, hazelnuts & pecorino. The dinner’s finale will be a Syrah-poached pear tart with rosemary-hazelnut brittle & creme fraiche.

Tickets are $60 and must be purchased in advance through the winery at (503) 234-3790. Seats are limited!

Photos by Brian Burk and Steve Heikkila.


  1. Heather Michet said:

    WOW, ladies!!! You may have outdone yourself with this one 🙂 Congratulations on a brilliant meal – in all of its aspects.

    — October 22, 2015 @ 18:04

  2. DC Tropics said:

    Dang, how do I keep missing events like this? Looks like a fabulous evening!

    — October 28, 2015 @ 13:00

  3. Revisit Some of Our Most Popular Urban Gardens Facebook Posts - Urban Gardens Pingback said:

    […] 6. Roving Portland Supper Club Goes Camping […]

    — November 18, 2015 @ 12:25

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