I had the best time last evening! I have to confess that I was rather dreading it, and I am now ashamed at my pessimism. My friend Jeff Hawkins, owner of Hope CSA (community supported agriculture), asked me to donate coffee for a fund raiser. Additionally, he asked me to come out to the event & speak briefly about the coffee to those in attendance. Between Heaven & Earth is a slow food, fine dining experience situated among the gardens of the Hawkins family farm. It features exquisite, locally sourced foods and serves as the annual fundraiser for Hope CSA, a non-profit educational organization.
Jeff has an understated magnetism about him that renders him universally likable. He is charismatic but not overbearing, meek but confident, and slightly idiosyncratic. Seriously, I can’t help but like him. Clearly, then, I could not refuse his invitation to participate in the event. My wife and I arrived at the farm at 4:00pm to begin brewing coffee. I am not terribly fond of brewing in percolators; providentially the coffee was good despite them. Once the brewing was under way, Sarah and I meandered around the buildings. My favorite among them is a recently constructed, wood-fired oven. Jeff & his son Zach reclaimed bricks from an old home down the road & commissioned a mason to build an oven the size of a FedEx truck. It is beautiful. The antebellum farmhouse is just as stately as you would expect. The equally-aged lilac bush reminds you that there is history here—heritage even. The whole setting is delightfully arcadian. Around 4:30, Jeff led a tour of the farm. We got to see the hogs & several varieties of turkeys. Mostly, though, we caught a glimpse of the philosophy of farming inherent within community supported agriculture.
Following the tour, we were directed to our white-clothed tables. There were five courses in all, and each was complimented by an appropriate beer from Mad Anthony Brewing Company. The food was truly excellent and the beers expertly paired. Brick oven flatbread with duck, rosemary, & Michigan dried cherries composed the appetizer. The salad of field greens, beets, pears, and goat cheese followed. Oh, the goat cheese! In all of its creaminess, it transported me to a land where stunningly beautiful goats frolicked among lillies. The main course brought suckling pig in a maple & honey glaze complimented by herb-roasted redskin potatoes. The peach crisp served for dessert took me back to the aforementioned dreamland, but all of the goats were replaced by large peaches. It was strange.
In all, the evening was a huge success. Spirits were high among the sellout crowd, and there seemed to be genuine support of Jeff’s work. He humbly asked me to keep my calendar open for next year’s event. He’s mistakenly under the impression that I’ll be a tough sell. Truthfully, I can’t wait.
What’s the moral of the story? There are three, if you must be told. Don’t be a pessimist. Support a CSA. Eat good goat cheese; it will take you to places you’ve never been.