Taste of the Past

A special fundraiser dinner in Moscow explores culinary and local history

click to enlarge The Kenworthy opened in 1926. |Latah County Historic Preservation Commission photo - LATAH COUNTY HISTORIC PRESERVATION COMMISSION PHOTO
Latah County Historic Preservation Commission photo
The Kenworthy opened in 1926. |Latah County Historic Preservation Commission photo

You're cordially invited to dine through the decades at three historic Moscow, Idaho, venues next Friday evening.

Your travels will begin at the Kenworthy, which opened as a theater in 1926. This is the Jazz Age, and you'll likely start tapping your toes along with the beat as you sip a Champagne cocktail and snack on appetizers served by "cigarette girls." Christine Gilmore, the Kenworthy's executive director, is collaborating with Moscow restaurants on the food and drink.

A short walk or bus ride takes you back to the year 1912 for dinner, at the 1912 Center, which was the town's original high school and is now home to the Heart of the Arts nonprofit. Jenny Kostroff, Heart of the Arts' executive director, dug deep into the culinary (and decorative) history of the early 1900s for the main courses. 1912 is not only the year the Titanic sank, but when Oreos and Hellman's mayonnaise came onto the market, she notes.

You'll start off your six courses with a roasted tomato — both seasonally and historically appropriate — before moving on to a vichyssoise, a cold, cream-based soup, and then a biscuit with various pickled items and locally smoked chinook salmon. The main course (No. 4) is braised beef with potatoes, followed by a palate-cleansing grapefruit sorbet. Not only is this palate cleanser right at home in 1912, the flavor is no accident, either.

"What's fascinating to me is, in all my research, grapefruits were hugely popular in 1912," says Kostroff. "They would do things like put some sugar on it, put it in the boiler and serve it hot."

Your last bite in 1912 will be on the lighter side; a green salad. Kostroff is also working with local chefs, farmers, and purveyors, who are enjoying the challenge of cooking in a different era. These purveyors include Deep Roots Farm, Hunga Dunga Brewing, Affinity Farm and the Kitchen Counter café, among others.

Next door at the historic McConnell Mansion, you'll head back to 1886 for coffee and pie crafted by friends of the Latah County Historical Society, all enjoyed to era-appropriate music from local favorite Cherry Sisters Revival.

Dulce Kersting, executive director of the Latah County Historical Society, notes that Paradise Valley — now brimming with wheat — was once home to many orchards and fruit vendors:

"There would have been a lot of cherries and apples and pears and plums available to people to make fruit pies. That's kind of another homage to the agricultural heritage of our region."

All proceeds support the three hosting nonprofit organizations. If you're unsure about attending this original and historic event, it's only planned to happen once: "I'm a one-time, special-event type of person," says Kostroff. "I like having special things that are unique. We live in such a repeat society, I wanted to do something that's special all by itself — a stand-alone." ♦

Dine Through Time • Fri, Aug. 25 from 5-10 pm • $100/person (limited to 150 diners) • Tickets and more information at latahcountyhistoricalsociety.org • 208-882-1004

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