It started with a journey and ended up with ten very full bellies and a little peek at life on the farm. This was my kind of Easter dinner! An hour drive out to our friends Clare and Brian's farm (that seemed to end just before the fiddle music kicked in Deliverance-style) for a group dinner with a bunch of food and wine lovin' people sharing, laughing, and indulging in some amazing food and wine around the Big Table turned into what we wish all holiday meals could be. Here's a bit of what transpired....
We started with chilled glasses of white and Brian's fried, marinated smelt (left pic above) and a fabulous head cheese (made from a pig right off the farm) along with David's incredible rabbit rillette (right pic above). Even the crock of mustard was homemade by our mutual friend Matt. After that bit of fortification it was time for Clare's farm tour so we could all learn what we soft city folk couldn't even dream of doing. Clare and Brian run their farm along the lines of Joel Salatin's Polyface Farm made famous in Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma. Rotating the chickens, pigs, horses, goats, and cows around the property (when they're not busy milling their own lumber, planning a vineyard, and tilling the fields behind a draft horse...did I mention things I could NEVER do?) to keep the fields fresh. We went to the chicken coop where I held an egg that was still warm from being, um, ejected from the chicken probably minutes before. Amazing!
Then it was back inside for work I DO understand, consuming copious quantities of deliciousness, where you can taste the love in each bite. Brian and Clare somehow found the time away from the animals to make homemade ravioli stuffed with ricotta, caramelized onions and pine nuts which were heavenly. Their homemade pasta (of course made with their own own eggs) was perfect. So much flavor and texture, a beautiful cream yellow color from farm fresh egg yolks.
Then the highlight of the night was Brian's 5-day brined corned beef, which was maybe the best I've ever had. So tender, with incredible flavor, and only made better with sides of potato gratin (made with spuds from Chris and Amy's Square Peg Farm) and fresh spring asparagus and Brian's aoili.
I supplied the cheeses for after dinner, and if that wasn't enough...and apparently it wasn't...David brought two sumptuous chocolate desserts, including the best flourless chocolate cake I've ever eaten, this one infused with Oregon hazelnuts (I'm getting the recipe to share, I promise!). After all that was more wine, homemade limoncello, and unfortunately an hour's drive home, which we somehow negotiated. This was an awesome afternoon and evening, one of the best I've spent in a long time. Major props and thanks to Clare and Brian and their Big Table Farm for sharing and showing us how things can and should be!
Also thanks to my sis for sharing some of her photos of the Easter bounty!