T Magazine: A Ride Across America | A Last Meal on a Hilltop Farm in Oregon

Written By wartini cantika on Sabtu, 02 Agustus 2014 | 17.36

Over the course of eight weeks, Ben Towill, the co-owner of the Fat Radish, and the photographer Patrick Dougherty biked 4,500 miles across the U.S. to talk to strangers about food. This is their final dispatch for T about their discoveries.

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The farm's sheep and goats.Credit Patrick Dougherty
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A Ride Across America

Read more of Ben Towill's weekly dispatches about food and how we eat it, filed as he bikes across the country. More…

Eight weeks ago, I started biking across the country to find out if people outside of New York were as interested in where our food comes from as the diners at my restaurant, the Fat Radish. It has been fascinating to ride through 11 states at 10 miles an hour, stopping to chat with anyone who will spare a moment. I didn't go looking for the bad stuff, but I saw plenty: huge feedlots, chicken houses stuffed with birds pumped full of growth hormones, store after store with no fresh produce. But at farmer's markets, fire stations, gas stations and small-town diners, I also met people who recognize the importance of great food, people who believe that access to fresh vegetables should not be a luxury but a fundamental human right.

Our final week took us through Washington State, across the Columbia River and into Oregon, to a hilltop farm just outside Salem, where a talented group of chefs had set up camp. They included Leah Scafe, the former director of the farm-to-table event series Outstanding in the Field, and Karl Holl and James Serlin, formerly of the San Francisco restaurant Perbacco, who originally moved to Portland to open a restaurant before turning their attention to the farm. Together, they have created a website, LetUMeat, meant to connect farmers and chefs. With several other chefs, they are raising pigs, lambs, goats, chickens, vegetables and herbs; making beer, bitters, cherry mead and kombucha; curing their own meats; and pickling foraged goods from the hedgerows along the farm.

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Clockwise from top left: boiling the sunflower buds; a floral arrangement for the table; a toast to a great dinner and a great journey; foraging for blackberries.Credit Patrick Dougherty

Soon after we arrived, we were foraging for wild blackberries, blueberries, peaches and sunflower buds. The boys set about preparing the evening's feast, a wonderful albacore conserva and spinach cavatelli with lamb ragu that used meat they slaughtered last week. All this culinary talent was a recipe for one of the best dinners of the entire journey. It was a true "last meal." I would bike a great distance again for the smoked lamb-liver crostino with marinated sunflower buds (see recipe below). We drank plenty of great local Brooks riesling and Soter pinot noir that the boys had bartered vegetables for.

The next morning, with a slight headache, I rode my final 60 miles to the Pacific Coast, thinking about how far I'd come since I'd left the Atlantic.


Photo
Smoked lamb liver crostino with marinated sunflower buds.Credit Patrick Dougherty

Smoked Lamb Liver Crostino With Marinated Sunflower Buds
Yield: enough pâté for 20 crostini

Smoked Lamb Liver:
1 lamb liver (2-3 pounds)
Jacobsen sea salt
Pepper

Marinade:
1 grated garlic clove
2 diced Calabrian chiles, fresh
1 tablespoon garum (Roman style fish sauce)
1 sprig fresh oregano
1 bay leaf
¼ cup white wine
½ cup olive oil
Pinch of salt and pepper

Liver Mousse:
Smoked lamb liver
3 chopped shallots
3 sprigs fresh thyme with leaves removed
¼ cup Marsala wine
¼ pound butter

Marinated Sunflower Buds:
15 sunflower buds
4 Calabrian chiles
Salt and white pepper
¼ cup olive oil (just enough to coat)

1. Combine everything for the marinade and pour over the liver. Marinate overnight in the refrigerator.

2. The next day, light the smoker and let the fire build a nice coal bed. Soak some applewood chips in water so they burn slower and put off a little heavier smoke. Season the lamb with Jacobsen sea salt and pepper, and let the smoking begin at a medium heat (200-250 degrees Fahrenheit) for about 35-40 minutes. For liver mousse, I prefer a medium rare liver. Once the liver is smoked, let cool.

3. Sweat some shallots with thyme and Marsala wine.

4. In the food processor, run the smoked liver in the processor with the shallots and cold butter. Process until the mousse is smooth.

5. For the sunflower bud condiment, you ride your bike all the way across the country; and as you arrive to the last farm, just pedal a little further to the sunflower patch next to the hazelnut orchard. Find and harvest the buds that have not blossomed yet. At that point, they look much like an artichoke heart. Blanch the buds in boiling water and then shock them in ice water. Let chill. Slice the buds in half and marinate with the chopped Calabrian chiles, salt, white pepper and olive oil. We served this with some Roman Candle Bakery grilled filone (bread), a simple bean purée and some marinated odds and ends of the lamb (hearts, kidney and jewels) that we grilled and marinated with garden herbs and some love.


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