Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fantasy Life

So the CSA and the farmer's market both ended last week, leaving me only to copious fantasizing about farming. Now I realize that farming is not an easy life, but right now I'm dreaming of being supported modestly with farming-related work, writing, and AL's business, which he's been wanting to start up in earnest for a while now. Sigh.

So what I'm dreaming of is having a limited-menu restaurant or maybe an agro-tourism bed-and-breakfast. There's a lot of fabulous local food here. It's just that a lot of people don't know where to go or are more interested in going to cholesterol huts than farms. So a restaurant that features local organic food would make this area's bounty accessible to those with more money than time. Really this comes from the fact that every time I make a meal, AL says I should open a restaurant. I've tried to tell him that when you've got wonderful fresh ingredients, you really can't go wrong. But he thinks it's me. Sweetheart.

Realistically, I'm probably better off trying to start a home bakery, since that's what I seem to be good at. (We won't talk about my failed canning attempt yesterday. We'll be eating some tomato sauce in the coming days.) But I love the idea of a restaurant, maybe on someone else's farm or orchard that already regularly brings people in. Here are a couple things that would definitely be on the menu based on family reactions: potato leek soup (hot, so it's not really Vichyssoise), banana bread, zucchini bread, omelettes. I'm going to work on a carrot cake this week because it's Tot's second birthday on Friday, if you can believe it! I'd also have lots of sausage and pork products on the menu because I know several sources of really fabulous sausage, bacon, and ham. Like phenomenal food that would bring all but the super-kosher back to the pig. And of course everything would be organic -- if not officially certified, then at least small o organic supervised by yours truly.

Imagine going into a restaurant -- not a really expensive one or ooh la la one -- and being able to be told about every piece of food -- and knowing that each thing is organic and sustainably grown/raised. I want to go there, which is how I know it's at least a decent idea because those of us who are really into organic and local food know that once you turn your back on CAFO meat, you really limit your take-out and dining options. This place would also have to be extremely kid friendly. I do know of a restaurant that was all or mostly organic that went belly up, but it didn't market itself well, I think. It was too specialized. The trick would be that my eaterie would need to have pretty ordinary food at ordinary prices because most people are going to be used to going to Applebees and in order to stay in business I'd have to rope those people in unless it was located on a farm.

Realistically, I might start developing organic baked good recipes in earnest. A new bakery just started up and they're really good so I wouldn't bother except that when I asked about organic, the baker said that he's really going more in the direction of gluten-free. Of course this is important. But my hook would be that everything is organic. Always. All the time.

Even more realistically, AL and I hope to buy a house and have a big garden and that will be the end of it. But even that's just fantasy right now. But if you like the restaurant or baked goods idea, let me know. I'm reading this great book called You Can Farm by Joel Salatin and he talks about a home bakery as a viable farming centerpiece enterprise. So who knows?

There are other things going on in my life, but this one is absolutely the most fun.


Anonymous said...

the fanciest restaurant I've ever eaten in had a farm attached to it. Not contiguous or anything--this was in a city--but outside of town, they were affiliated with a local organic farm that supplied all of their produce. And I think they had relationships to organic sources for other ingredients. The owners, if I recall correctly, started out as organic farmers. It's definitely a concept that works.

Horace said...

We have that set of fantasies here, too--though Willow would be the baker, restaurateur. My misgiving about the whole enterprise is that more than a good mission, good ingredients, and good kitchen skills is that those things need good business sense, which we in our house just do not have.

But if you've got the business sense, or someone in your back pocket who has the business sense, it's a great idea, and one that more and more places need to adopt!

Earnest English said...

Horace, you're absolutely right that you need really good marketing no matter what. That's what's got me thinking about what's missing in this area rather than what I would want to do. Maybe Willow and I could join forces! =)

Anastasia, a number of the ritziest places do have relationships with organic farms. Not that I've been to these places, but I've seen it on Create! But rather than a ritzy place, I'd like something that more. . .normalizes this food. I know this has been done in other areas -- a diner that is all or mostly local.

P said...

Your post is making me hungry! Thanks for the book tip, too ;-)

Anonymous said...

Mmmmmm, a new house with a big garden. That's my dream, too.

Home bakery sounds so fun and think of how great it will smell all the time! :)