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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Outstanding! In the Field.

Well, that dinner that Tom had mentioned a couple of times:  This afternoon-- 150 foodies in our front pasture, nibbling on venison rillettes with caramelized onions, basking in the cool October sun, and touring the garden. 

The Outstanding in the Field people organized this dinner, as they do around the country, to bring cooks, food-lovers, and their farmers together.  To their shocked surprise (and ours) this event sold out in one day, the moment it opened, back in March. 

We caravaned down to Ellen's place, where a beautiful lo-o-o-ng table stretched across the lawn, from driveway to oak tree, looking across George's bottom land to the hills on the other side of the river.   And dinner was simply heavenly: arugula salad with Benton's ham and Kentucky cheese, radish salad (this was so gorgeous, just brilliant pinks and greens) with spicy sausage, crispy fried Mississippi quail with cubes of sweetpotatoes and winter squash, tender beef with grilled veggies (carrots, tiny turnips, bok choy), and a dessert of cornbread with apples, rhubarb and buttermilk dressing.  With paired wines.  Oh, I forgot the creamed greens--had to have a bit of a second helping of that! 

Tyler Brown, the chef extraordinaire from the Capitol Grille, was the featured cook, with much of the dinner coming from our own Bells Bend Farms and from Tyler's farm at Glen Leven.  (Tom took his spader over there last spring to help prepare the soil, and JeffThe BarefootFarmer has been working with Tyler, too.)

It was cold, though, but folks were clustered at the table, lit by little oil lamps in canning jars, chatting and laughing and not really wanting to pull away. 

It's been quite the weekend, entertaining 500 people in two events, both of which were managed flawlessly by other people.  OK, make that 505--counting Zach, who is now living in Liz's room for a while, and Tom's college friends. 

You know, cultures, in the scientific sense, are all about multiplication of an organism. A culture seems to have taken root around here, that is warm, hospitable, welcoming, and social.  May it multiply and may you all come to enjoy something like it, wherever you are.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Hops Festival and Barn Dance

Yes, yes, I know the summer has happened since last I wrote here.  Nonetheless.

Walking up to the house in the rain late last night, I left the HopsFest and BarnDance still in full and literal swing, a hundred celebrants still dancing in the drizzle to the tune of the Bells Bend String Band.  

We had a couple of Tom's Davidson classmates here visiting, and about three hundred other folks dropped in.  Yazoo's Linus Hall and his family handed out this year's Bells Bend Preservation Ale (very "hoppy", my beerfans tell me--I liked it!), and Stewart Orchard set up a cider press.  The legendary Martha Stamps made chili and roasted our fall veggies. 

Odle (one of our wonderfully rascally neighbors), Matt Walker, Patrick, Julia, the Cobles, and a string of kids-we-have-known-now-grown-up were here, as well as King Carlos, a friend of the Bend who was crowned by one of the five kings of a miniscule territory in Micronesia this last summer. 

But what really knocked me out, when I wandered to the back of the kitchen for a view of the band from backstage, was the drummer.  Thin, intense, in a newsboy cap, he was arranging a semicircle of market baskets around the box where he sat, between drying garlic and a pile of pumpkins, tapping with his drumsticks as he tuned this makeshift drumset, and then lit into the music, his complicated and precise riffs perfectly framing the squaredance band.  Between songs, he pulled a somebody's folded metal chair--or was it a tripod?-- into the mix, which gave a little metallic edge. 

Mark tells me he's a brilliant fusion drummer.  I'm not sure exactly what that means, but I'm totally convinced. 

I thought the whole evening was a brilliant fusion event. Whatever that means.  As I walked home in the rain.