No visit to Ayers Creek Farm is complete without a demonstration of the culinary uses of the food that contributor Anthony Boutard and his wife, Carol, grow on their 140-acre farm. To their credit, their decade-long Herculean effort has been rewarded with the appointment of their very own muse.
Before the Olympian deities took over and bureaucratized the Office of Muses, there were just three muses residing on Mount Helicon: Aoide (expression), Mneme (memory) and Melete (occasion). Linda Colwell is our Melete. Whether it is a ramble or some other occasion, Linda steps in and everything flows smoothly.
Linda Colwell, Ayers Creek's Melete.
When Lane Selman of the Culinary Breeding Network asked us on a hopeful afternoon in April if we could host a lunch and tour at Ayers Creek for the Organicology conference in early February, it seemed like an reasonable idea. With our lovely Melete watching over us, what could go wrong? Nothing, as it turns out, even in a week marked by torrents of rain, the sun shone and we all had a good time.
The gorgeous groaning board.
Working with Mark Doxtader and Jason Barwikowski of Tastebud, and Sarah Minnick of Lovely's 50/50, Linda showcased the fruits, vegetables and grains of the farm. While we led a tour in the fields, Linda gave a talk about the various ingredients in the lunch. One participant confided to us that he loved Linda's talk so much that he was tempted to sit through it a second time. Here is the quartet's menu:
- Amish Butter popcorn with Aci Sivri cayenne
- Black Radish soup
- Green Posole made with Amish Butter hominy, pumpkin seeds, and sorrel
- Late treviso panzanella style salad with roasted Sibley squash and kakai seeds
- Roy's Calais Flint polenta with braised Borlotti beans with leeks and chicory
- Oven-roasted sweet potatoes
- Focaccia with late summer dried green grapes
- Sprouted barley toast with roasted winter squash drizzled with honey and Ayers Creek jam
- Winter field greens as available: rocket, chervil, kale
- Adzuki bean ice cream between Kakai pumpkin seed cookies
- Chester blackberry ice cream between Amish Butter and Almond cookies
The Tastebud oven has welcomed guests to the Ayers Creek since the first ramble. This Christmas, we received greetings from a former Hillsdale Farmers' Market regular, now residing in Portugal, recalling that day. Sami's teenage daughter was convinced rather reluctantly to fritter away a Sunday afternoon at that ramble. The walk went well for her but the high point of the day was walking into the shade of the oaks and seeing her favorite feature of the Hillsdale market, the Tastebud oven. It always heralds a good event when Mark's truck maneuvers into position.