Fancy Shmancy

Here we are, as promised, coming up for air.

As many of you can guess (or saw when you came by the farm), we are a little bit run down by the intensity of the schedule we’ve been maintaining over the last two weeks.  However, we've made it over the substantial obstacle of processing our second batch of chickens, and we even got enough last minute customers to bring our chicken inventory down to something that will fit in our garage freezer!

Everything seems to be going great on the farm, though. We've been a little worried to hear that two farms run by neighbors and friends of ours are closing down.  Both farm operations were run using sound and even impressive methods, but regulatory and market-based challenges made the businesses and, more importantly, the quality of life unsustainable for the farmers.  This is obviously a real concern for us.  We are willing to sacrifice to get the farm started and off the ground, but I think we are shooting in the short-term for something a little more modest than 12-14 hour days.

With that in mind Shae and I cleared our schedules and threw worries of morning fatigue to the wind and had a spectacular night out.

For the past two weeks we have been waiting anxiously to go and try the amazing ways that Flea Street Café’s executive chef, Carlos, told us he’d be using our chicken.  We haven’t had a night out in quite a while and our dress clothes were looking dusty.  When Carlos and the restaurant’s owner, Jesse, came by in the middle of our 10 day processing marathon to pick up their order and invited us as their guests to come have dinner, we accepted immediately.  In the days that followed, while we were standing in the wet and cold, covered in chicken guts, Shae and I created a wonderful fantasy of how great it would be to go out and have dinner to celebrate being done.  While it would have been enough for the dinner to have just provided us with the energy and morale to make it through 500 birds, it turned out to be an incredibly special night.

What a team!
Perhaps the most important part of the evening was meeting everyone at Flea Street Café.  Before we sat down, we were introduced to almost all of the staff and had time throughout our dinner to steal small conversations with them as they darted from table to table.  What made this so important was that Shae and I really don’t want to have traditional customer-vendor relationships.  When we look for customers, we proudly blur the line between personal and business matters.  Part of what we love about farming is that we have the ability to use the business as a means to meet new friends and develop ties to the people/community that are nourished by our food and in turn let us continue to heal the land and care for our animals.  However, all this gushing might be a little much--I’m sure many of you are interested mostly in what we ate.

The food was downright amazing.  Shae and I both get a great deal of pride from taking the time to cook delicious meals at home and experiment with different ingredients and preparations, but the food we had was just a great example of what years of culinary experience and training can produce.  The care and creativity that Flea Street Café put into their menu was really apparent.  We are usually a pretty cheap date, and as good guests we were planning to just have two modest entrees, but the people at Flea Street Cafe had a different plan.  Through taste after taste of exquisite food that they sent out to surprise us, we found ourselves a little overwhelmed, but supremely happy and satisfied.

Here’s what we had: squash ravioli with an Early Bird Chicken ragu, housemade lamb sausage with spicy peach compote, friend green tomatoes with corn relish and chipotle aioli, harpooned San Diego swordfish topped with crab, slow-braised grass-fed short ribs, pasture-raised duck with a bacon sherry vinaigrette, black mission fig bread pudding with bourbon cream carmel sauce, and chocolate almond cake with rum peach ice cream.

I meant to take a picture of the beautiful presentations, but I kept getting distracted.  Everything, with absolutely no embellishment, was awesome.

I swear it looked great.
Our wonderful waiter Steve, who couldn’t have steered us towards better choices, masterfully calmed all of our fears by reminding us that pre-industrial agricultural peoples usually needed twice the daily calorie intake that we consider normal today.  That was a big relief because it means Shae and I were only overeating by a factor of 4 rather than 8.

But here’s what really made this blog-worthy, the night was inspiring.  The time to rest was important, and the food was amazing, but meeting the staff and seeing their passion for real and high quality food reinvigorated our tired spirits.  Shae and I spent most of the night gazing into each other’s eyes… and brainstorming what breed of hogs we’d like to raise and doodling sketches for a mobile rabbit/worm compost structure.  It was as romantic you’d imagine.

So we’re back to our schedule, but things couldn’t feel brighter.  I suppose though, it’s easier for us to recover from being tired and overwhelmed.  This is the one job where the grass is greener where we are. 
This is our first slaughter spot in front and our second in back. Amazing.