Gratuitous Food Porn: Dinner at the Herb Farm

The Herb FarmEarlier this year, I posted about taking a tour of my company’s elk farm with my boss and two co-workers. We brought the chef, owners and several employees from the Herb Farm with us because they were planning to us some of our elk for their winter menu. These are the types of field trips you get to take when you sell meat for a living! Anyways we had such a fantastic time together that it really motivated me to take a trip to Woodinville to try some of elk when it appeared on their harvest menu.

My husband and I ended up making the trek in early December and it was just as wonderful as we could have hoped. The food was fabulous and meat sourced from my company was scattered throughout the menu — including our rabbit, venison and, of course, elk.

Here’s what the experience was like…

The scenery:

Statues outside of the Herb FarmThe little things that made it extra awesome:

Love the little booklet for the menu!

Love the little booklet for the menu!

Along with the included wine flight, my husband and I also got the "Three Muscat-Tiers," a trio of muscat wines from Australia.

Along with the included wine flight, my husband and I also got the “Three Muscat-Tiers,” a trio of muscat wines from Australia. I couldn’t stop laughing at the pun. Brilliant!

My favorite dishes from the 9-course tasting menu:

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Gratuitous Food Pics: Portland’s Plate & Pitchfork

Grilled Octopus Salad w. White Beans, Calabrian Chilies and Sugar Snap Peas

It’s cold, windy and rainy days like this one that make me long for summer. A big part of summer for me is cooking outside as much as possible, often with my husband who is a chef in Portland. If we’re not grilling in our own backyard, we’re cooking alfresco for special events sourced through the restaurant.

This past summer, we did an extravagant pig roast for Archery Summit Vineyards and an urban garden dinner for The Portland Fruit Tree Project. Last summer one of my favorite events was a collaboration dinner with the chef of Lardo (Portland’s latest media darling who is now a good friend) for an event called Plate & Pitchfork.

Plate & Pitchfork brings chefs together with local farmers, so each chef gets paired up with a farm, uses their produce and puts out a multi-coursed family style dinner at the farm. It’s pretty awesome.

Here’s some scenes from our dinner which was held at Sun Gold Farm in Forest Grove. We served about 120 people, using one gas burner and two huge grills.

Octopus a’grillin

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What To Do When You Meet Your Meat

It’s rutting season and this guy means business

My job is to sell meat. And not just any meat but meat from animals that are locally raised, humanely treated and able to roam freely over acres of land. These animals are cared for by people who actually do care for them, which I was able to see first-hand on a recent trip to our elk farm.

A few lucky co-workers and I got to travel with our boss on a tour with a team of employees from the well-known, acclaimed restaurant the Herbfarm. We watched as the yearlings were fed and then saw the rest of the herd. The bulls were in full rut and we could hear them buggling from across the field. Only one still sported his antlers (George, pictured above) as the farmers usually remove them after velvet so the bulls don’t hurt each other as they vie for the attention of the females.

We saw a room in the barn covered in antlers, each one tagged so the farmers know which animal and what year they are from. It made for a pretty impressive display.

A room full of racks

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Crudités in Clay: An Unexpected Appetizer in an Urban Eden

Being married to my husband is like having a second job sometimes. Not the actual marriage part (that part is fun and games!) but the part where I am his go-to sous chef for off-site events. I’m definitely not complaining — I occasionally get paid and if I don’t, well, I always get to drink plenty of wine which is just as good in my book.

So, just like his pig roast extravaganza, I jumped at the chance to help him do a multi-coursed dinner to benefit the Portland Fruit Tree Project. You can read more about the project here, but the basic premise is to educate people about urban gardening and to help give those less fortunate access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

The 35-person dinner party was held at a house in SE Portland, known as Tabor Tilth. The woman who lives there grows so many different things in her front and back yards it’s actually overwhelming…and overflowing. She raises rabbits, grows corn, keeps bees, has more tomato plants than I could count, and even has a mullberry tree all on her 1/5 acre of residential property. She has a truly fascinating online video in which she describes her very thoughtful and meticulous system for planting and composting (she uses some very unique manure in her yard!).

To complement her creative urban gardening, my husband served dishes like “compost” beef (rubbed in coffee grounds and herbs) and a mullberry sorbet with lime salt. But my absolute favorite thing he came up with was these planters. Part centerpiece, part appetizer, each potted plant harbored hidden surprises.

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