Sunday, September 30, 2007

Amazing Evening at the Farm

Last night I attended a dinner at an organic farm in Denver, NC. Thanks to my friend Kate, Steve and I had the opportunity to purchase tickets at her table for this incredible night. The evening involved a large white tent with 20 tables of 8 people, seven of Charlotte's finest chefs, fourteen organic farms of varying description, a tour of the pigs, chickens, and shiitaki mushroom fields, and some truly amazing people chasing their dreams.

The evening started with a charcuterie platter of cured pork from Grateful Growers farm. My darn camera was in the car so you don't get to see this---or a million other great things. Natalie and Cassie are producing the usual pork cuts, plus salamis, bratwurst, Italian sausage, hot Italian sausage, and now . . . American prosciutto. Lord, it was good. We also had sparkling apple cider from Davis and Son Orchard.

I won't give you the complete menu; you'd hate me if I did. My favorite of the three entrees was the rotisserie fresh ham and sweet potato shepherd's pie; I really wanted both my daughters to taste this. DD1 feeds me interesting sweet potatoes when I visit and DD2 makes a great shepherd's pie. Dessert was goat's milk vanilla bean panna cotta on caramel apple cake with caramel sauce and cinnamon toasted pecans prepared by Bill Dietz of Taverna 100 and Sonoma Restaurants. Unbelievable.

We drank lots of good wine--Windy Gap--Cabernet Franc 2003

The entire meal, no feast, was local organic products. Wow, what a political statement these folks made. The local farmers who produced the ingredients were there along with the man who processes the meat. Oh, and Natalie's chiropractor who was the only doctor of any kind who would come to the farm to help with a very sick 700 lb. sow who was due to produce her litter any minute. One vet suggested she bring the sow to his office. Yeah.

The common denominator in this group was a commitment to produce food for us consumers. Healthy food. No chemicals food. Most of the farms are 5 to 10 acres and these folks work hard just to stay a step ahead of the tax man. Natalie and Cassie get their water from the well on their farm. As Natalie took us to meet the pigs and chickens, she told us how the drought this summer has affected them. The pastures aren't growing anything for them to forage; the pigs need to be hosed down 3 times a day due to the heat; and the chicks have to be kept cool by manufactured shade. She and Cassie has restricted their personal water usage severely in order to take care of the animals. I can only imagine Jenifer at Laughing Owl Farm and her family are going through to get the produce to take to market.

All of the folks contributing to the meal sell at the Charlotte Farmer's Market every Saturday. Kate says you have to get there early if you want their products. Steve and I intend to start this. It is such an eye-opening privilege to meet these folk. We must support their efforts and create a larger market so others like them can exist and share their passion with us.

Hope I see you at the market next week. Bring your knitting.

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