I made a point to "do" the Second Annual East Austin Urban Farm Tour last Sunday. I missed it last year, and wasn't going to make the same mistake again. So what's this tour all about? It's a chance for Austinites to get a behind-the-scenes look at four working Austin farms, all within walking distance of each other, and nosh on delectable tidbits featuring locally-grown ingredients, personally doled out by the city's top chefs. Proceeds from the $35 tickets went to support the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance.
I started at Boggy Creek Farm, owned by Carol Ann Sayle and Larry Butler. I've posted about this wonderful farm before. Larkspur and snapdragons were blooming near the farm's entrance.
I trekked between all four farms on foot, but halfway through, I truly wished I'd had a bike like these smart folks.
The food was delicious. Chefs Mark Paul and Eric Polzer of WINK Restaurant & Wine Bar offered an astonishing parsnip and sorrel panna cotta topped with a pink peppercorn and strawberry compote, featuring Boggy Creek Farms produce.
Baker Barrie Cullinan of Amity Baking offered up raspberry tarts for grabs.
I enjoyed a wonderfully refreshing iced Turkish Spice Mint tea from Zhi Tea,
but this was as close as I got to the Live Oak Brewery keg.
After a brief respite in a shady Adirondack chair,
it was off to the next farm, Rain Lily Farm, owned by Kim Beal and Stephanie Scherzer. In addition to the farm, they run a garden design and maintenance business and a farm-to-home delivery service, Farmhouse Delivery.
Agaves, larkspur and wildflowers greeted visitors at the entrance.
Sitting in dappled shade on a hay bale, I enjoyed a fabulous pork belly salad with a strawberry vinaigrette from Fabi & Rosi, a salad mixta from La Condesa, a fruit tart from Pie Fixes Everything, and a refreshing Paloma cocktail garnished with fresh mint and laced with Republic Tequila.
This swing near the vegetable fields looked inviting.
A whimsical gate made out of bicycle parts adorned the chicken coop.
I hated to leave, but the four-hour-long tour was more than half over, so I hustled over to Springdale Farm, run by Glenn and Paula Foore.
The food and beverage lines were at their peak by this point, so I grabbed a pecan porter from 512 Brewing Company and joined Paula and Glenn on a tour of their farm.
Can you tell where Glenn earned his horticulture degree?
After touring Springdale Farm, I sampled quail in what tasted like a pomegranate walnut sauce from Peché , and an amazing lamb slider with artisan kimchee containing Springdale Farm produce, served by Chef Jonathan Gelman from the Driskill Grill.
Sadly, Chef Jesse Griffiths of Dai Due had run out of his country paté with pickled Springdale Farm produce and Fireman's #4 mustard, and the event was nearly over, so I made a mad dash to HausBar Farms, owned by the proprietors of Eastside Cafe.
Alas, I was too late to enjoy the offerings by Dripping Springs Vodka, Paula's Texas Orange and Bola Pizza, but Eastside Cafe still had some potato-leek soup and chili left,
and I caught the tail end of the farm tour, led by owner Dorsey Barger.
I got to see happy, extremely free-range chickens,
hear about the farm's composting methods,
and meet Julian the donkey. Julian looked a bit tired, and admittedly, I was too -- nevertheless, I had a blast, and can't wait for next year's tour (on bike!).
See more photos of the tour on my Flickr page. I hope I've enticed you to visit these farms yourself one day soon, and support the local chefs and restaurateurs that help support the farms. Boggy Creek Farm and Springdale Farm are open to the public from 9 to 1 on Wednesday and Saturdays; Rain Lily Farms sells their goods, along with goods from other local purveyors, through Farmhouse Delivery; and HausBar Farms produce can be enjoyed at Eastside Cafe. Buy local, eat local, live local!
Words and photos © 2009-2011 Caroline Homer for "The Shovel-Ready Garden". Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.