Friday, October 16, 2009

The Last From a Legend

If you have been following the latest news from the food world you undoubtedly know that the November issue of Gourmet Magazine is the legendary publication's last. It is truly unfortunate that a magazine like Gourmet has been scrapped, but I suppose it's not terribly surprising that a few of our favorite things, no matter how beloved and cherished, will succumb to the obvious economic pressures of our time. As is tradition, the November issue features a beautiful roast turkey fit for, well... the cover of Gourmet. While that may not be particularly noteworthy, the final Letter From the Editor by Ruth Reichl is hauntingly fitting for this final issue, considering it was written months ago (magazines have to plan ahead, you know).

In the letter, Reichl reminisces about her childhood Thanksgiving celebrations and reminds us that the holiday shouldn't be so much about the glitz and glam of polished silver, spotless wine glasses, and picture perfect turkeys, but rather the memories created during the gathering of friends and family. To me it is a fitting reminder because even though the magazine often delved into unattainable, wild culinary fantasies, the thing we should cherish most about Gourmet is the legacy it has left behind. I can think of no other culinary magazine that has has such an influence on me and I'm sure countless others. Thanks to Gourmet for all the great inspiration over the years and good luck to all of its staff.

The final issue still in it's plastic packaging after arriving in the mail.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Poulet Rouge from Nature's Harmony Farm

If you cook whole chicken on a regular basis you will probably notice something different in the pictures below. The pictures show a chicken with a smaller, thinner breast and longer legs when compared to a typical supermarket chicken. Now, small breasts aren't always desirable in all aspects of life, but this is a chicken... get your mind out of the gutter! This is a Poulet Rouge (French for Red Chicken) from Nature's Harmony Farm. What is the difference aside from the appearance? For one, they are older chickens: typically twice as old (or more) than a standard supermarket chicken. They are a slower growing, hardier breed of chicken. They are also raised differently. As opposed to being raised in a packed, overcrowded chicken house, the chickens at Nature's Harmony are raised on pasture. To read more about how Nature's Harmony Farm raises their Poulet Rouge chickens, click here.

Aside from the standards by which they are raised, I can tell you based on first hand experience that these Poulet Rouge chickens are an amazing change from what is often bought at the supermarket. The end result is a chicken that is full of flavor, moisture, and texture. Far more flavor than what you are probably used to. If you have the chance to purchase a Poulet Rouge chicken, by all means buy it! I'm certain that you will be pleasantly surprised at the difference. Shown below is a finished roasted chicken over a bed of turnip greens, fresh out of the oven.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Dinner on the Farm

Saturday 10/10/09

Leaving Atlanta on Saturday morning under threat of rain, Liv and I attended the "Local Food Campout" at Nature's Harmony Farm in Elberton, Georgia. We had to trust that the food gods would smile on us instead of... spit? Anyway, we weren't spit on - not even one drop. The following is a brief overview of our wonderful Saturday and Sunday on the farm.

The event was a celebration of local food both from the farm itself and from other local farms like Full Moon Farm which provided seasonal organic vegetables and cheese from Split Creek Farm. All the food was exquisitely prepared by Chef Hugh Acheson and his team. Check out the menu further down in the post. Aside from the food, there were ample adult joy beverages from Terrapin Beer and wine from Boutier Winery gracing the tables.

This was our second visit to the farm. Our first visit was in 2008 when we bought our Thanksgiving turkey from Tim and Liz Young. This November we're headed out to the farm for our celebratory turkey again... we can't wait! Below is a short video of some turkeys gobbling and the males strutting their stuff - notice the fluffed and fanned feathers on the toms (males).

Upon arrival in Elberton we set up our tent in the pasture. The farm tour would begin soon and we wanted to make sure we had our humble abode set up for the night. The farm's designated tent inspector made sure that everything was up to par.

Farm's Designated Tent Inspector

The tour was an all inclusive look at how the animals are raised and cared for. Tim and Liz are committed to animal welfare above all else and raising the animals in an environment that mimics nature as closely as possible. The results are some of the best tasting meats I've ever found. To read more about Nature's Harmony farm values, click here.

Speaking of, what animals are raised at Nature's Harmony Farm? Poulet Rouge chickens and other pasture raised chickens, grass fed beef, grass fed lamb, naturally raised wood lot pork (including Berkshire, Ossabaw, and Large Black), heritage breed turkeys, heritage breed geese, and ducks. Oh, and they have a few honey bee boxes on the property too. Suffices to say they and their 3 apprentices have their hands full. One of the most interesting stories (and tastiest dishes of the night) was the story of the Ossabaw Island pigs. If you are at all unfamiliar with Ossabaw Island pigs, I encourage you to click on this link. It is a blog post by Tim at the farm and gives the history behind this very interesting and very rare breed. Below are several pictures of the animals that were taken on the tour.

Pollyanna, a Murray Grey Calf born on 9/28/09. Pictured here she is only 12 days old!

Cattle relaxing in the pasture.

Pollyanna stealing the spotlight, with lamb and cows in the background.

Ossabaw Island Pig (picture #1)

Ossabaw Island Pig (picture #2)

Ossabaw Island Pig (picture #3)

Naked Neck chickens raised under Poulet Rouge standards.

Pasture raised ducks

Berkshire Pigs

Heritage Geese

Narragansett Turkey

After the tour was over it was time for dinner! Chef Acheson (green shirt) prepared a killer multi-course dinner for 100+ people.

Menu for 10/10/2009

Passed hors d'oeuvres

Pimento cheese sandwiches with pickled okra

Deviled egg salad with caviar

Chilled sweet potato soup with chive cream

On the table

Roasted beets with avocado, Split Creek feta, and arugula

Tians of eggplant, sweet peppers, and basil and Split Creek goat cheese

Savory swiss chard tart

Red Mule polenta with melted leeks

Grilled Nature's Harmony Farm Ossabaw pork chops with agrodolce

Roasted Nature's Harmony Kathadin lamb leg with salsa verde

Nature's Harmony Poulet Rouge chicken bog over rice

Pumpkin and pecan pie

Following dinner was a warm bonfire and lively music from the North Georgia Bluegrass Band. The food and company was really, really great and Liv and I enjoyed every minute of it. After the band was finished, it was time for bed.

Sunday 10/11/09

Morning on the farm comes early, especially with what seemed like hundreds of roosters cock-a-doodle-dooing at sunrise. For anyone who thinks roosters don't cock-a-doodle-doo when the sun comes up, you can kiss my ass... they do. Jokes aside, the wake up call was fully expected considering we were sleeping only several yards from the chickens. After we opened the tent and saw the cool morning mist and the animals up and about, we put on our shoes and walked the farm watching some kids help with morning chores before breakfast.

Sunrise over Nature's Harmony Farm

Awake Yet? This was my first view when I unzipped the tent.

Breakfast was pancakes with honey right from the farm's bees and sausage made from the farm's pigs. Tim took the helm and made everyone a wonderful breakfast.

Honey bees hard at work.

Thanks to the apprentices (Mario, Kerry & Amanda), Chef Hugh and his team, but most importantly Tim and Liz for a wonderful weekend. We look forward to similar events in the future and if you are interested in attending tours or events, or simply want to learn more about the farm, visit the website and blog by clicking here.

See a great video recap that Tim and Liz put together (below), and check out Tim's blog post about the event here.