First and foremost, today is Amanda’s birthday. Happy birthday to the one I love. You are awesome, every day I get to spend with you is awesome, and you make me want to be a more awesomer person. A life with you is the best life I could have hoped for. Thank you for bringing so much awesome into my life.
Last weekend, we went out to celebrate with her family at a new restaurant in downtown DC, on the Georgetown Waterfront, at a place called Farmers & Fishers.
Farmers & Fishers is the sister restaurant to Founding Farmers, also located downtown. Executive Chef Stephen Bieker makes it clear what’s important to him with the posted mission statement on their website:
We strive to source from sustainable agriculture from family farmers and the farmers of the sea as often as possible. Our chefs continuously seek out local and regional partnerships with family producers and artisan purveyors to ensure fresh, unprocessed foods and high quality ingredients in respect of the environment and the earth.
Everything on the menu made from scratch in house, everything regionally sourced from sustainable farms and supporting our own community food shed. This is the kind of place that I am always on the look out for.
One of the cool/interesting things they do at this place, which they also do at Founding Farmers, is that they offer farm table seating. You can make a reservation to sit at a farm table, and they give you this big long table that seats probably 12-14 people or so, and you share the table with whomever else happens to have chosen the same option. We didn’t do this, since there were already quite a number of us alone, but this strikes me as a really cool opportunity and I like the emphasis on community that is stressed there.
So the first thing that struck me entering the restaurant was the decor. They’re going for a kind of farm house style, but to me it didn’t quite seem to work. I think a lot of the furniture/bars/chairs/etc had a pretty modern feel to it and so it seemed to clash a bit with the floral wallpapers and white/green plaid tablecloths. I liked the idea, just not really the execution. No biggie, let’s have a seat.
The place was pretty full for a Sunday evening, which is a great sign. I really hope to see places like this flourish. The menu was really expansive, and – being an avid Kitchen Nightmares watcher – this did worry me a bit. The concern is that if your kitchen does everything, then it likely doesn’t do anything well, as it will just be stretched too thin. Their menu encompassed everything from chocolate covered bacon lollipops, to pizza, burgers, pasta, steaks, poultry, sandwiches, and seafood of all kinds.
My fears were totally unfounded – everybody’s dish came out wonderful and delicious. Well, okay… perhaps the jury is still out on the bacon lollipops. I had the Hawai’ian marinated ribeye steak which was incredible and cooked to perfection. One of those melt in your mouth pieces of steak where the marbled fat has broken down perfectly to give it an unbeatable flavor. The place was too dark to take any decent pictures, but it looked a hell of a lot like the best ribeye steak you’ve ever had.
As a new restaurant, they’re still working out some kinks. We had a few minor service issues, not even worth explaining, but everything else was fabulous. I do highly recommend the place, and I hope to get an opportunity to go to Founding Farmers sometime in the near future. If you get the chance, take it!
Since April is birthday month, and I’m in a giving mood, I thought I’d give something back to my readers who have brought us so much discussion here on this site and have been making this whole endeavor exceedingly enjoyable.
Another book giveaway!
Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal by Joel Salatin catalogs the trials and tribulations of a small time local farmer as it applies to everything food production from dairy, to meats and poultry, to food safety, to organic certification, government grants and policy, the relationship between restaurants and farms, the future of farming in the USA including bioterrorism, the proposed National Animal Identification System, general animal welfare… honestly the book has it all when it comes to farms and food. Joel Salatin illustrates his opinions on all these topics and more through stories from his own life and farm, Polyface Farm, told with a great sense of humor and a wonderful attitude towards even some of the most oppressive and challenging aspects of his life. I can’t agree with Joel about everything – we definitely don’t align on his opinions about religion and abortion, as examples – but he’s clearly a very thoughtful person and you can tell that he hasn’t arrived at his conclusions short of any due diligence on the subjects at hand. As technical as this book can get at times, Joel still manages to make the whole thing a joy to read.
Polyface is located right here in our backyard, out in the Shenandoah mountains of Virginia. Salatin himself is one of the most highly-visible figures in the alternative food movement. He was discussed at length in The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and got a pretty significant amount of screen time in Food, Inc.
There’s a great interview he did back in January with the Guardian, have a look.
Joel Salatin photographed at home on his Virginia farm, Polyface. Photograph: Mike McGregor
To enter to win a copy of Salatin’s book, leave a comment on this post and tell me about a ridiculous law you’ve heard about. Anything from outdated laws that have never been re-written, to obscure laws in far away places, to authoritarian nonsense written into law for blatantly malevolent reasons. Or tell me about well-meaning laws taken to extremes or used for personal gains. Or, of course, just tell me you want the book. The winner will be chosen at random.
Contest will end in one week, closing at 9pm next Thursday, May 6th. Good luck!