Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Visit to Poplar Ridge Farm

In search for another local produce farm to feed the needs of my new menu, I found Poplar Ridge Farms during a Google search. Search engines are a wonderful thing man :)

Even though I'm currently using two local producers, Barbee farms in Concord and Nise's Herbs who has an amazing farm stand at the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market, there's always room for one more. Is too much awesome locally grown produce a bad thing?!

After driving for about 45 minutes from the club, I arrived at this amazingly beautiful farm in Union County. It's out in the middle of nowhere and man, talk about a mini paradise! As I drove into the gravel drive and up into the farm, a sense of peace combined with a child like excitement came over me. I saw all this food growing all over the place. For a chef, it's like ground zero. All I needed was a salt and pepper shaker and my knives.

Any who, I met with one of the owners, the beautiful Marianne Battistone and the farm manager Tony Phillips as they gave me a full tour of their farm. Tony showed me some amazing heirloom variety cucumbers, tomatoes and this red okra I wanted to fry up right on the spot! Asparagus plants, beans, corn, oh my! Shook hands with a couple of the farm employees, great guys. Everyone seemed happy, fulfilled and proud of what they do.

Marianne showed me around the other side of the farm where they grow herbs, lettuces, flowers and the like. We peaked around in the cooling house where there were tons of garlic, potatoes and butter nut squash curing and waiting to be eaten (by me, hopefully).

The entire property was like a serene garden of Eden fully equipped with horses, iron gates, a cooking class-room and a pool that would put anyone into an envious state (especially today, it was HOT out!).

As we were walking around discussing doing business together, all I could think about was what sort of things I could make with all those items coming out of the ground. "Yeah, I could roast those with a Duroc pork chop, wilt that tossed in a citrus vinaigrette, saute this, poach that!!!" Good thing I had to leave or I just may have had to run to the grocery store, buy a tent and start cooking! But, I digress.

Of course, there were samples! We nibbled on sweet 100 tomatoes and baby head sized heirlooms that had to be seen to be believed.

Also, if you ever want to eat some of the best local produce in the area, check out their CSA info here. I'll post some menu pics and blog about the new menu soon enough, stay tuned.

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