I had the distinct pleasure yesterday of attending the 2nd Annual Swallowtail Farm Spring Festival 2011. If you live within driving distance or happen to be in the area at the time of next year's festival, all I can say is do everything you can to attend. It was a blast!
It was such an action-packed day, I'm not sure where to start, so I guess describing my experience from start to finish will have to do. Technically, I got there late. It started at noon. I didn't arrive till 2 p.m., just in time to grab a scrumptious lunch from the Jones Eastside booth (I had a grilled beef and vegetable skewer, quinoa salad, and just-picked lettuce salad complete with tahini-ginger dressing) and scoot over to the Bee and Honey Workshop run by Noah Shitama (owner, Swallowtail Farm) and Charlie Lybrand (owner of a local bee farm). Noah and Charlie led an extremely interesting and educational workshop describing the basics of bee keeping, the reasons for having bees on the farm and where they fit into the "eco-cycle," so to speak. They described the 2 different kinds of man-made beehives and the pros and cons for each (Top-Bar hives are more natural, closer to what a bee would make in the wild, and less work; Langstroth hives are more for honey production and require more attention). If I remember correctly, Swallowtail Farm uses only Top-Bar hives because their goal is not to produce honey for sale, but to produce healthy bees that integrate naturally with their biodynamic farm. At the end of the workshop, attendees were treated to a taste of honey and honeycomb from one of the Swallowtail hives. Delicious!
|The Bee and Honey Workshop demonstration hive.|
Immediately following the Bee and Honey Workshop, I ran over to the Information/First-Aid booth to work the 2-hour shift I had volunteered for. It gave me a chance to meet people, sit in the shade, people watch, and listen to some great music from the 15 or so local bands that played a delightful assortment of music, including folk, rock, reggae, etc. It reminded me of a mini-version of Woodstock. Just fabulous!
|View from the Information/First-Aid booth; band stage, Festival attendees.|
|Swallowtail Farm Spring Festival 2011 attendees.|
|A Slip and Slide was provided for the kids (and adults), as well as face painting.|
|Swallowtail Farm barn and The Jones Eastside food booth to the left.|
After my volunteering stint, I walked around the farm for about 2 hours, mingling with the crowd, taking pictures, and enjoying the music. I also fit in another trip to the The Jones Eastside food booth, this time getting a veggie skewer and more of that delicious quinoa salad. What can I say? The gorgeous weather and Festival activities made me hungry!
And then it was dinnertime. And what a dinner it was. For the Farm to Table Dinner, 3 chefs from local restaurants made a 4-course meal out of this world. The majority of the produce was supplied by Swallowtail and literally harvested from the garden as needed. Talk about fresh and local. Just as described, we ate by candlelight at dusk "out of the garden, in the garden." We started with an appetizer of a goat cheese-stuffed squash blossom, delicately battered and fried, sitting atop a bed of lightly sauteed julienne of zucchini, yellow squash, and carrots accompanied by a divine roasted beet vinaigrette. The next course was a delicious green salad with homemade croutons, roasted beets, and citrus (I believe grapefruit, but it was too dark to see with my 48-year-old eyes). Our entree was an outrageous buckwheat blini with garlic sauteed squashes, and other vegetables. I want this recipe badly! To be honest, I wouldn't mind having all the recipes. And then there was dessert. Suffice it to say, had I been at home and not in the company of strangers, I would have licked my plate. I'm not even sure what it was called, but it was a heavenly concoction of goat cheese cheesecake rounds with macerated strawberries and some sort of crunchy cookie crumble that was to die for. Freshly baked rolls were served throughout, along with unending wine and chilled water. All in all, I think it was the best meal I've ever had the opportunity to experience. We dinner attendees ended the evening with a standing ovation for the chefs, sous chefs, and servers. And without saying for Noah, his interns, and all the volunteers who helped pull this day off. It was truly remarkable.
|Setting the table for the Farm to Table Dinner|
|The finished table.|
|A closeup view of the table.|
|A lovely bouquet of squash blossoms adorn the table.|
|Some of the freshly-harvested produce that made up dinner.|
|Our appetizer course, just waiting for the fried goat cheese squash blossom to be added.|
|Outrageously delicious buckwheat blinis.|
|One of the many vegetable beds that encompass 3 acres.|
|Another vegetable bed.|
|A gorgeous turnip.|
|Someone found a great place to take a nap.|
|The solar panels that powered the whole extravaganza.|
|One heck of a rainwater collecting system.|