A large but harmless snake had been gently removed from the grass as it slithered cautiously towards the pond. His playground was destined to be the setting for a long table to seat 30-odd people for dinner on the farm the next day. So, move along!
If he had any snake friends they sure kept their distance with all that rumpus on the farm. Table set, napkins folded, flowers arranged: now the pond was the perfect backdrop for a farm dinner that kicked off with handcrafted cocktails while a blazing hot fire pit heated up Himalayan salt slabs and the tantalizing smell of fire-roasted goat filled the air.
The setting is small-scale family owned dairy goat farm All We Need Farms just outside Houston. “The goats are ours but not one of the girls,” said goat farmer Stacy who puts sustainability and animal care at the top of her farming priorities. These were two wethers that led a happy life on pasture, well, until this dinner event.
In the field behind the dairy the girl goats greet arriving guests, bleating softly as if whispering to each other: “look at all these peeps coming to see us!” The dairy kitchen is where all that creamy goat milk goodness is processed into … ice cream! All We Need Farms is locally famous for its goat milk pops, all made by hand using pure ingredients and flavors range from vanilla and strawberry to dark chocolate and (my favorite) cajeta.
We are spoilt crazy with fine wines, good food, a delicious dose of humor from chef and crew — including whimsical props like elephant tea pots to pour melted butter — and of course: an ongoing cooking show.
Never a dull moment, the crew are busy at the fire pit, tossing and turning shrimp on sizzling hot Himalayan salt slabs while under damp cloth the stuffed flatbreads wait puffed and perfect to go on the grill next. Basting the roasted goats one more time, one of the chefs takes out a knife as big as a sword and proceeds to carve the goat into manageable portions. Dishes come, empty plates go: creamy cauliflower soup, Gulf shrimp grilled on salt slabs, feta and chard stuffed flatbreads and pea & pulses pilaf with tender juicy pieces of roasted goat. We all watch, eat and are increasingly happy.
As darkness sets in, fireflies dance in the meadows where the farm’s heritage breed hogs live. The bullfrogs in the pond croak, and a gentle breeze keeps mosquitos at bay.
Just before dessert — a crisp galette of apple, berries and ginger — the goats make their presence a little louder known, bleating for attention as they round up in the barn for the last milking of the day. They remind us that this is a working farm, after all.
What is it that makes a popup farm dinner so unforgettable? Is it the setting? The food? Feeling part of it all because you’re right at the action, at a long table sharing family-style food? Is it knowing that this IS where our food comes from: from the farm? Or is it all of the above, and then some?
This was a farm dinner by Breaking Bread Popup Series in Houston. Farm dinners happen everywhere: don’t miss an opportunity to attend one!