Friday, July 22, 2011

A Drive Out to the Farm

My friend Michelle belongs to a couple CSA's (Community Supported Agriculture) and occasionally shares her weekly bounty with me. Through her I was introduced to the folks at Frog Hollow Farm which is a certified organic 133-acre farm in Brentwood, California.  She receives a box from them every week full of fruit that was just recently picked. By eating this fresh and seasonal fruit I have really come to understand just how superior it is to eating fruit purchased at the grocery store that may have been picked weeks ago, while it was unripe.

Michelle and I took a drive out to the farm to see it in person and hang out with Jeff Bordes, the Director of Sales and Marketing.  During our visit we got a tour through the orchard by Farmer Al where we learned about their over 20 varieties of peaches, cherries, nectarines, apricots, pluots and pears.  I was so impressed by Farmer Al's passion for his trees which he planted himself over 30 years ago, that I now appreciate their fruit even more.

We also heard about their plans for the "Dinner in the Orchard" which Jeff was very excited about and we visited the spot where it would be.  He described their vision to transform part of the orchard into an area to welcome guests and create an event where they could dine amongst the fruit trees.

This open field above is used to sun-dry fruit which gets packaged and sold.  The fresh fruit is spread out wood planks and left out in the sun to naturally dry locking in all the flavor.  Jeff knew this would make a perfect spot for the event.  Farmer Al always imagined having live tango music at the farm and thus "Peaches & Tango" was created.

I was on board to help out with this event from the first time I was asked, and then I found out they were asking Top Chef winner, Richard Blais to head up the menu. Imagine my excitement to work with such a talented and well-known Chef. Blais was my pick to win when I first saw him in Season 4. I was so happy to see him come back in Season 8 and win the All-Stars! And now I was about to work with him to bring this Farm to Table event into creation.

The menu was designed "around Frog Hollow Farm’s legendary peaches along with seasonal offerings from our other favorite local farms and ranches. This unique dining experience highlights the talents of Chef Richard Blais while fostering a connection to organic, sustainable foods."  Chef Blais created a menu using local ingredients like oysters from Hog Island, chicken from Soul Food Farms and Peaches from Frog Hollow. 

And what would the dinner be without a little flashy liquid nitrogen, which Blais frequently used on Top Chef.  Imagine the surprise to everyone on the farm when these huge tanks arrived.

I will show you highlights from the event in my next post including the amazing menu.

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