Farm To Table
(mid september. number 22.)
On the first autumnal weekend in September, we headed north for a weekend visiting our friend Will Boal, who worked the 2011 farming season at Let Us Farm, located in Oakville, WA (about 30some miles from Olympia).
Shown above is a stunning collection of film photographs by Aria Mikkola-Sears, which weren't developed until long after the post above this event on our old blog. They showcase the atmosphere of this weekend perfectly.
Will (he's the guy seen above wrestling and below in the yellow Mackintosh) was living in a delightful old farm house, with a well stocked kitchen and a large table cover that was able to turn his modest 3 or 4 person dinner table into a proper feasting platform. All of these vegetables (and also the eggs) came from the very land we cooked the food on, and were gathered mere hours before the meal was served.
Secret Restaurant Portland had been casually existing within the "farm to table" movement for a year and a half at this point. On this first weekend of fall, we finally went to a farm and filled its table. We made a mid afternoon lunch/dinner- a sort of old fashioned "Sunday Supper."
This one was a real cornucopia. Beautiful lettuces (the farm's speciality is lettuces, hence the clever name "Let Us Farm"– so the selection here was almost too much to sort through), succulent spinach and then a bunch of edible weeds: chickweed, minors lettuce, nasturtium, clover, and other edible flowers. A dressing of miso and sesame.
Vegetarian Monte Cristo Sandwich
A natural-leaven Tartine loaf, similar to the first one featured in dinner #17, but with months of further development behind it, sliced and dipped into savory french toast batter, with some herbs and a little mustard. Each slice was then grilled up in cast iron pans.
Sandwiches were assembled with yellow climbing beans, various summer squashes, big leafed kale, rutabaga, turnip, shallot, and finally caramelized carrots and golden beets. Topped off with a squash blossom and huge leaf of basil.
They were covered with a local Swiss style "mountain cheese" and broiled. Disgustingly good.
A potato with really nice deep red color, on the skins and insides. Will told us it was a locally developed potato, the 'Skagit Beet' variety.
They were boiled till tender, then dressed lightly in olive oil and slow roasted to regain crisp exteriors.
Lucas made fresh mayonnaise, which was obscened a little bit with addition of creme fraîche (though, we maintain, it was necessary to thin the dressing and we had to do it with something!).
All that, with celeriac root greens (instead of parsley and/or celery) and dill flowers, a little lemon pepper, and pink himalayan sea salt.
Carrot/Ginger Clear Soup
Microplaned carrots, ginger, shallots, and garlic stewed together. A broth was built up by boiling two rounds of potatoes, salting, and simmering. We then strained the soup extensively. The result was a clear, sharp tasting soup with a healthy kick-in-the-face sort of feeling. Served in 8 oz mason jars, topped with strips of tangy lemon sorrel.
Caramel Apples, Frangipane Pear Tart
A miniature pear frangipane tart and cabernet-sauvignon-caramel apple (honeycrisp, from the olympia area). Served with pistachio creme-anglaise. This was guest chef-ed by the delightful Rachel Louise Britten.
It should also be noted that Loewyn Young, who photographed many of our first dinners but who has since moved to Olympia, was in attendance and is to be credited for the all of the dining shots. Lucas and Aria and I took the field/harvesting/atmosphere shots.
Samson, the pooch, resides on the farm. Note his place on the truck in the first picture. Also, we posed for a nice lil' family photo at the end. Left to right: Andrew, Aria, Will, Hannah, Nick, and Lucas. It should be noted that Will and Hannah, who met doing this farm apprenticeship, are now partners who run 26th Avenue Farm in Hastings, Nebraska.
Here's one more of me out in the mist: