As you know, the glory of this season motivates many a gardener to cancel other plans for the chance to spend precious hours working with the soil, anticipating its nutritive returns. In fact, one friend of ours stopped in the store yesterday--long after she might have otherwise arrived at work--beaming over having taken two days' vacation to have time to spend caring for her fledgling plants.
Many folks who have made a vocation of their relationship to the growing season will be opening their farms to us this Saturday and Sunday during the annual Piedmont Farm Tour (the link to the brochure is below). You can visit the farms of many fantastic growers, including several farms whose food will be available to us at the Saxapahaw Farmers' Market next weekend. This event provides us an opportunity to create a vital relationship with the people who grow our vegetables, ferment our wine, and tend the animals who become our meat. In a sense, I think of visiting farms as a sacred experience; in a time when mass markets have bastardized our food sources and alienated us from growers, stepping onto a local farm feels like a homecoming.
[And if you do join the farm tour, you might plan your own home-coming to coincide with Paperhand Puppet Intervention's community dance jam tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. (until. . .) at the Community Center. Call the store if you're not sure where that is and want to attend. This will be a very nice family event.]
One direct benefit we at Saxapahaw General Store have enjoyed from our farming friends is the crescendo in the tone of locally grown greens, tomatoes, strawberries, and other produce finding its way into our dishes after the winter break. Even the goats took hiatus for a time, but we have Goat Lady Dairy and Celebrity Dairy goat cheeses available again. And just a few minutes ago, Rob Tolbert of Aimless Farm brought a box of shiitake mushrooms for Jeff to use for his pork chop gravy tonight--a batch he had hand-picked moments before leaving to deliver them to us.
We're delighted to know that by the time of the Wine Tasting Dinner May 15th, we'll have access to even more local goods to use in preparing dinner for our guests. So far, we've planned a cheese course courtesy of our local creameries, a dessert featuring seasonal fruits you're sure to see at farmers' markets, lettuce greens from Aimless Farm, and meats with farm names you will recognize. I'll add more details as we know what will be available. The dinner, as I mentioned last week, will feature six tasting courses with Benjamin Vineyards' wines--for $35 per person.
Jeff, Dirk and Dave are just now finishing their preparation for this evening's dinner, and Jane has tidied the dining spaces. They are all delighted by bustling evenings, so I know they'll be happy to see you in for dinner today or tomorrow.
The menu will include--
Cold Melon Soup
Cane Creek Pork Belly
Local Beef Short Ribs
Ziti Bolognese, baked (also local beef)
Grouper, seared and braised and topped with pineapple and applewood bacon chutney
Blue Cheese and Applewood Bacon Burger (local beef)
Mussels, a big bowl of--with grilled baguette
Cane Creek Pork Chops (with that local shiitake gravy to which I referred before)
Roasted Vegetable Lasagna
--and there will be sides. I have seen asparagus in the kitchen being trimmed, and I feel certain there will be Brussels Sprouts too. Mashers, of course. Spinach likely, as we have a bunch of beautiful local spinach with bright red stems.
Dessert includes a Chocolate Torte with strawberry glaze and a local berry to top, and a Peanut Butter Cup Tart with shortbread crust.
The usual stuff is there too.
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