Week 22: Good Eats!

The season here at Pepperfield is winding down. We’ve just begun the Heirloom harvest dinners and are in the process of closing down the gardens.

Monday was quite busy. I started early in the morning working on some of the tomato sauces for the upcoming Seed Savers Exchange annual tomato tasting. This occupied most of my time and I managed to get nearly all of the sauces complete. The following day I took off early in the morning to head to Minneapolis. My mother was flying in to partake in the upcoming Palestinian dinner. On my way up to the airport, I stopped in Rochester and had lunch at a small Greek restaurant named Nupa. This buzzing restaurant offered quick service and some fabulous food making it a great quick stop for lunch. After I picked up my mother, we chose to spend about day and half in the city. That evening we dined at a fantastic establishment called The Grand Cafe. For nearly two hours we feasted on a creative and delicious menu by Jamie Malone. Her team executed a perfect evening providing impeccable service and amazing dishes to match. This is a must stop for anyone going through Minneapolis.

Wednesday, my mother and I went to the state fair. Pulling in nearly 100,000 people daily, the fairgrounds were teeming with people. We walked around checking out various agricultural exhibits and some of the music before stopping to grab lunch. For all the hype I had heard from people about the food scene at the fair I was severely disappointed. I did expect standard fair fare – fried pickles, onion rings and corn dogs – but I was also under the impression there would be some decent food trucks. After walking nearly the entire fairgrounds, we reluctantly walked into a “BBQ” booth. I ordered a pulled pork sandwich that was dry, bland and smothered with cloyingly sweet sauce. I wasn’t expected the real deal, but this was so far from any real barbeque and I felt completely dissatisfied. We continued to walk around for a few more minutes and then left around 1pm. We hopped in the car and drove a hundred miles or so to Rushford, MN. My uncle had planned a small private dining event hosted by Il Luigi, an italian stand alone restaurant in this small town of 807 people. For the next few hours we enjoyed a four course meal provided by Luis Jara. He presented us an authentic Ecuadorian meal that consisted of ceviche, llapingachos, and flat iron steak. This was an amazing experience and, much like Grand Cafe, I would recommend this as a stop to any foodie.

Thursday, I worked inside cleaning the house the commercial kitchen in preparation for the upcoming event. I also took this time to finish up the rest of the sauces for the tomato tasting. Shortly after, I dropped off the finished sauces and then went with mom to eat lunch. The next day was spent cleaning the house which gets converted into the dining room for the heirloom harvest dinners. The whole crew – my mom, Ellis and Willie – took a dinner break and headed over to Luna Valley Farm to grab some pizza. I was thrilled to be able to enjoy experience with everyone because – aside from Ellis and myself – this was a first time experience for our group.

Saturday morning I ran to town to rendezvous with my mom. We took a quick trip to the farmers market to browse the wares. Just after, we came back to the farm and began to get the house setup for the dinner. I transitioned to the kitchen and helped Willie prepare for the dinner. I minced herbs, chopped garlic and made a tomato sauce by chopping peppers and tomatoes. Then, I helped stuff eggplants and zucchini before finishing the dessert with Willie. We popped all that stuff in the oven and then got ready for service. The first course that Willie presented was tabbouleh. The guests were hungry and we quickly served the next course of soup. The pace began to slow and then we served the entree, a mix of various stuffed items. The meal finished with a dessert that was enjoyed by everyone. (Shown below is the menu for the night.) Once everyone cleared out Willie, Gloria, Ellis, David and I, along with our neighbors and a guest, sat down for a family style meal enjoying the food and each others company.

Sunday started with a breakfast for the overnight guests. David prepared pancakes and we spent a leisurely morning catching up and relaxing. Afterwards, we spent the day in relaxation unwinding from the previous night. My mother came over early in the afternoon and we went out to check out Decorah and have lunch. When I returned I took a quick nap before helping put together a dinner of leftovers for Korbin and us.

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