Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Best Way to Ring in the New Year!!

As we're busy prepping for an amazing New Year's Eve service, I thought I'd share a quick video that not only will be great for brunch on Jan 1, but I think also will give everyone a solid idea about our amazingly rich food culture in south central PA. It is a awesome experience for me to work not only with food products from my 'home turf', but also interpret the flavors that make this area so special. I know it's a tease, but look for loads of content in the new year. I'm very excited about 2011 and I hope you will be able to come to the Sheppard Mansion and share in my excitement!

Hey, the restaurant turns 5 this year.....Think we'll have a party???

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Hey, is anyone actually reading this blog anymore???

It's been a busy holiday season, but that's no excuse for not posting SOMETHING.... Here's a little video magic; perhaps a taste of what is to come in 2011. MORE VIDEO!!!

Just for's a look at Tim Brown's strawberries; simply GREAT stuff!!!

Friday, November 19, 2010


Yeah, it's hunting season here in central PA. The air has turned from cool to cold in the early AM and the rake is the yard tool of choice. This time of year I think a lot about game. Not just venison or quail, but pheasant and squab, too.

Pheasant is a fun bird to work with and I decided that I wanted to present both the breast and leg/thigh meat in a chilled dish this Fall. The dish features a pheasant that has been cooked, deboned, tossed with a small amount of gelatin, brown butter, regular butter, parsley and salt and pepper. This mixture is then rolled and chilled. The other pieces to this puzzle are a turnip remoulade to cut the richness of the pheasant, crispy shallots because why not, and an apple butter vinaigrette which brings the dish home to the 717 and solidifies it as EAT LIKE YOU LIVE HERE food! Enjoy!!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Shoo Fly

I LOVE Shoo Fly Pie. If you asked a bunch of people for a couple of thoughts about food in central PA, shoo fly pie is likely to be an answer. However, and I know frequent readers of the blog will not be surprised by this, I'm picky about my shoo fly. I don't like shoo fly cake. I don't like a pie that has a soggy crust. I don't like a high crumb to molasses ratio. And so on..... In case anyone is wondering, I have 'taste tested' every shoo fly pie available at the York Fair. Yeah, I know. Crazy.

So....I've wanted to create the ultimate shoo fly experience. Inspiration comes in many forms and I'm constantly inspired by the raw products that surround me, the terroir AND my area's food heritage. Shoo fly is a huge part of that story(scrapple is too....look for my ideas on scrapple in a future post). In considering shoo fly flavors and texture, I was stuck on the idea that a bunch of pies that I've tasted come out dry. Basically, too much crumb. AND....I didn't want to simply produce a pie. So, what to do, what to do? First stop: Source a great molasses. I am fortunate to be able to buy sorghum molasses from my good friend Josiah Martin. Josiah's uncle makes the most amazing sorghum molasses that has a great color and flavor....It's not bitter, but also not too cloyingly sweet. So, molasses, check. Next stop? What flavors would go with shoo fly? Shoo fly is a pretty sweet flavor profile, so I decided to go two ways. One was to make a red wine caramel. The other was to take a dice of fresh apple. Now, I have a balance to the sweet with the red wine caramel and apple, a little crunch with the apple. One final touch? Salt. All that sugar needs a little salt to balance it, so I thought of brown butter roasted pecans tossed with salt and sugar. OK. On to the shoo.

Ever have fried ice cream? If you have, you're seeing where I'm going with this one. I made a sorghum molasses ice cream. Made the crumb topping traditionally associated with shoo fly pie(although I like to add malted milk to my crumb mixture....sue me) Once the ice cream was solid, we scooped it out and coated it with the shoo crumb mixture. Frozen solid. THEN.....dropped into 375 degree oil and fried until crispy and golden brown. HELLO LOVER!!!

Here are a couple of shots of the finished dish, but you really need to get your butt to the Mansion and eat this dish. It is warm, cold, sweet, salty, amazing, Eat Like You Live Here food!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

From All of Us, To All of You: THANK YOU!!!

In case you haven't noticed, I've been a little lax about posting on the blog. Well, I haven't exactly been sitting around twiddling my thumbs or building the ultimate spit ball machine. You see, a little market has popped up in Hanover. Popped up right behind the Mansion. That's right, The Carriage House Market is open for business.

I'd write a long list of all the things the Market sells, but I'd rather sum it up this way: If it's local and you're cookin' it, we're sellin' it. No, we're not selling pineapples and lemons. Yes, we are selling amazing salad greens, fresh bread and the most incredible meats. We're also cranking out some wicked soups that are ready to eat. Want a quick meal? How about a quart of white bean soup and a loaf of rustic french bread!!!

LOCAL IS LUXURY: Ever want to get in touch with your local farmers, but you just can't seem to make the specific time a farmer's market is open? We've taken care of that problem for you. The Carriage House Market is open wednesday-saturday 12 month of the year and is selling all the great products that I currently source for the restaurant.
Every time I find a passionate producer for the restaurant, we'll be selling their raw products in the Market, allowing you the luxury of eating like you live here!!!

Simply because I think sleep is overrated, we've decided to bring fresh baked bread to The Carriage House Market. Not only rustic boules, pretzel rolls and parker house rolls, but we've added the hippest thing to hit Hanover since the Hanover-Delone bonfire.....STICKY BUN SATURDAYS!!!!(for those of you who line up at the door before we open on saturdays; YOU MAKE BEING AT WORK AT 4AM TOTALLY WORTH IT!!!) A brief serious word: I know many people have come to the Market only to find the bread shelf as bare as the toilet paper aisle just before the first snow flurry. I'm sorry about that....People are eating the bread as fast as I can put it on the shelves. Seriously. Please don't despair. I'm am so overwhelmed by the area's response to our baked goods that we are taking steps to not only produce more bread, but also a wider variety of baked goods. We'll be working extra hard to make sure you get your bread!!!

To everyone who has stopped in at The Carriage House Market, THANK YOU! To everyone who hasn't....wathca waitin' for??? EAT LIKE YOU LIVE HERE!!!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Harvest Celebration Menu it is. The menu for the October 5th Harvest Celebration. Starts with snacks and sparkling in the Carriage House Market(sneak peak time) then on to the menu. So, here you go. Read it, then make your reservation at 717.633.8075
We'll have some new guests this year and I'll be playing the role of chef AND producer at this event. PLUS, you'll also get a sneak peak at the store that is going to change the way you shop for amazing ingredients!

Whipped Lardo on grilled bread
Mini Macaroni and Cheese
Rettland Farms Berkshire Pork BBQ Sandwiches with Truffled Slaw
Candied carrot soup shooters

A Puree of Sheppard Mansion Farms Dried Corn Soup, pork dumpling

A selection of Samuel Martin's Fall Vegetables, Morgan Ramsburg's Lamb Meatballs

Crispy torchon of Rettland Farms Chicken, waffle, maple balsamic syrup

Grilled Sheppard Mansion Farms Beef, Mansion Farms potato and carrot, horseradish cream

Prune and armagnac stuffed apple dumpling, warm cider cream

HEY, put your tongue back in your mouth!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Celebrate the Harvest!!!!

Well, it's that time of year again. A happy/sad time for me. I love Fall and am excited about the new flavors that will be hitting the menu, but I really have a tough time saying good bye to Summer. This summer has been an amazing one for the Sheppard Mansion family, as we've pulled a ton of produce that is beyond compare from our own gardens. I will really miss heading out to our culinary garden, but am already working with my dad on planning a garden four times as big for next year!

With the changing of seasons in mind, it's time for our annual Harvest Dinner. Hey Andy, is this like a 'farm to table' dinner. Well, sort of, but not really. I suppose you could consider what we do on a daily basis 'farm to table'. This is more of an opportunity to kick back, drink some wine, eat some food and celebrate the 2010 growing season and harvest. As in year's past, I'll be inviting some of my favorite producers to the dinner(a special wrinkle in this year's dinner is that I'll be speaking not only as the chef, but also as a producer. I'll be able to fill you in on the ENTIRE process from seed planting to harvest to menu concept to cooking. Cool? I think so.)

The evening will start with snacks and sparkling in the newest addition to the Sheppard Mansion brand. The Carriage House Market. That's right, all the amazing products I get to work with on a daily basis will soon be available for sale at the market that's going to 'change the way you think about, cook and eat food'. Be one of the first people to see the force that is THE CARRIAGE HOUSE MARKET. Following snack time, we'll head into the main house for a multi-course extravaganza featuring the most amazing products central PA has to offer. Between courses, my rockstar producer(hey, I'm one of them this year. Sweet.) friends will take a minute to talk about their products and I'll talk a bit about the concept behind the dish. Wine. Oh, yeah. There will be wine.

This is gonna be a rockin' good time that you DON'T want to miss. You might even see Beau Ramsburg breakin' bad to the Thong Song on a table top....Or you might not.....but you'll never forget yourself if it happens and you missed it!

HERE'S THE DEETS: Tuesday October 5th. 6pm. $105 includes EVERYTHING. And by everything, I mean.....snacks, sparkling, amazing food paired with amazing wine, tax, gratuity.

Phone 717.633.8075 to reserve your table. There are only a few left.....YOU DON'T WANT TO MISS THIS!!!!

Thursday, September 09, 2010


Have you ever gone to a concert and watched two musicians stand toe to toe and pass a melody back and forth? If you have, you know what an amazing experience this can be. Two musicians, using a limited set of 'rules' who are playing off of what each other has created. By the end of the 'set', they have created something that is much larger and complex than the beginning theme.(for those of you unfamiliar with what I'm talking about, think the banjo scene in Deliverance) Ever wonder what that would be like in a restaurant setting? Well, here you go. My good friend and uber-talented chef Andrew Deery and I are planning to go toe to toe on September 28th at his restaurant Majolica in Phoenixville, PA. It's a evening entirely based around FUN. We're taking the doors off the kitchen, plating trays in the middle of the room and cranking our favorite tunes during the snack and sparkling hour. During this time, Andrew and I will be passing around our favorite snacks, shooting the shit with EVERYONE and I may even do a) a hand stand or b) sing along to Born in the USA or c) both at the same time! Once we get down to 'serious business', we'll hope that everyone will get out of their seats, come watch what we are doing and TALK ABOUT FOOD!!!! The evening will close up with trays of cookies and candy(white chocolate covered pork rinds anyone?) while Andrew and I explore the inner beauty of Pappy Van Winkle bourbon. Here's the menu.(actually, click on the'll make it bigger and clearer....since I'm not a web wizard, it looks like shit in its current state!)

Alright, I've got you hooked and you want to make a reservation right now, don't you? Well, I'm happy to say that this particular dinner SOLD OUT in 36 hours. Yeah, that's right. SOLD OUT IN 36 HOURS. So, Andrew and I have decided to do what all rock bands do that have sold out dates.....we're adding another date. NOVEMBER 5TH. The menu will be different(it's gonna be hard core Fall folks.), but the attitude will be all the same. Honestly, this dinner is also filling up fast, but there are a few seats left. You know you don't want to miss it...... click here for details. I hope to see you there!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Hot Potato

My dad and I brought another crop in this past week: potatoes. Not any ordinary potato. We planted two varieties of potato this year, the german butterball and the la ratte fingerling. The pic above is our haul of la ratte fingerlings(over 100 pounds!!!)

There isn't a whole lot to say about these babies. I'll be posting how we utilize each of the potatoes over the next few weeks, so be on the lookout.....or, better yet, drop by the restaurant and try some for yourselves!

These beautiful potatoes(both the la ratte and german butterball) will be for sale along with our incomparable heirloom tomatoes at this friday's market at the Gettysburg Outlet Center. Why don't you go out and buy yourself 10 pounds or 50?

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Tell your melons to stop looking at me.

I love melons. I love caressing melons. I love cradling melons. I love the sweet aroma that a perfect melon gives off when it is held 'just right'. I like to nestle my face between two freshly picked melons and feel the sun bathed warmth all over my face.(if you think I didn't have the most amazing time writing that last paragraph, you're nuts!)

Anyhow, by now your familiar with our bumper crop of melon this year. You might also remember that I recently returned from a trip to Italy where I had a lot of cantaloupe wrapped in melon. One particular meal that stood out was a combination of cantaloupe, ham and clove. That was the inspiration for this dessert.

Yes, dessert. I know, I know, I know. Dessert is meant to be chocolate cake with peanut butter icing or a baked alaska or something like that. This dessert is nothing 'like that'.

I took our amazing charentais melon and made some ice cream. Candied some of the world's best bacon(ours) with brown sugar, made a clove cake, tossed in some lemon verbena granola, compressed charentais melon and a finish of vanilla beam cream cheese. It all comes together pretty nicely and is an interesting interpretation of the classic savory cantaloupe and ham. If you get to the restaurant within the next few weeks, you'll notice there are a few 'garden inspired' desserts. I would order one of each if I were you!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Next Big Thing

The envelope pictured below landed on my desk a couple of weeks ago. If you look closely in the upper left corner, you'll recognize a familiar name if you frequent the restaurant and/or blog. Ramsburg. As in Rettland Farms. As in rock star pork, chicken and egg producer. The guy I'm proud to call my friend, Beau Ramsburg.....but wait, that envelope says M. Ramsburg, Andy. You're right, it does. M. Ramsburg.....Intrigued? I was.

When I opened the letter, Morgan Ramsburg, Beau and Cat's daughter, had written me explaining that she was raising lamb as part of a 4H project and she would be showing them in mid-August. In the letter, Morgan asked if I would consider bidding on her lamb with the hopes that one of her animals would make it back to The Mansion. Did I think twice? No. During the showing, one of Morgan's animals was selected as the reserve grand champion. First showing. Reserve grand champion. Yes, this kid is a Ramsburg.

Last weekend, Heather Sheppard Lunn trekked over to the South Mountain Fairgrounds and placed the Sheppard Mansion's bid on Morgan's lamb and yes, we landed one!

The lamb is back from the butcher and I've gotta say, 'HOLY AMAZING.' That's a professional opinion.

When I was a kid, I used to closely read Sports Illustrated. One of my favorite sections was the 'Faces in the Crowd' where up and coming stars would be chronicled in the opening pages of the magazine. I think in some cases, this section served as notice to the older generation in each sport that a new, great group of stars was working their way to the top. Well, if there was a 'Faces in the Crowd' for agriculture, Morgan Ramsburg should be brightly featured. Keith Martin at Elysian Fields Farms, watch your back....from the looks of this lamb, you've got a 'situation'.

Morgan's lamb is going to hit the menu this friday in the form of five individual preparations from five different parts of the animal all presented on one plate. If you've had lamb before, congrats. If you want to TASTE WHAT'S NEXT....I would suggest getting yourself a reservation for this weekend at the Mansion because I know this animal won't be around for long. There even might be an outside shot that you'll look across the dining room and there will be Morgan, getting the rock star treatment by the Sheppard Mansion staff. If you are lucky enough to spot Morgan, don't be bashful. Ask your waiter for a sharpie and ask Morgan to sign your menu. Honestly, how often do you get to taste the next big 'food thing'?

I'm working through tons of possible ideas for presenting this lamb and I hope you'll be able to make a reservation for this weekend to try one amazing lamb.

Check back to the blog to see how the ideas work themselves out this week....

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Garden Update - August 25th.

I'll let the video do the talking.

Oh, and here's a definition for 'GTL' from Urban Dictionary. If you don't know what GTL means then somehow you're missing the most important show to hit TV screens in the past 20 years.....

The process of staying fresh and mint. Stands for "Gym, tan, laundry." Must be done everyday to achieve maximum potential. Side effects include fist pumping. Coined by the eloquent Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino from MTV's ground breaking Jersey Shore.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Did I mention that we have some corn??????

First, a word about our corn. I like to call it 'no no' corn. Basically what that means is that nothing other than dirt, rain and our hands have touched our corn. No herbicides, no pesticides, no nothin'. 'No No Corn'. So, what that also means is that occasionally you might encounter a worm here and there. A small price to pay for amazing flavor in my book. Simply brush the worm off or cut out the bruised area and go on eating the most amazing corn you've had in the past 30 years.

So, did I mention that we brought in a huge haul of corn? I think I did. Basically, what that means is that it's time to be creative with our abundance. We've already dried enough corn to get us through the winter and now it's time to think about how to celebrate this bumper crop in the present. So.....corn, butter and salt are GREAT friends. Butter, salt and biscuits are GREAT corn biscuits are born. See, this chef thing isn't that tough. It's just a matter of connect the dots!

I utilized our usual biscuit recipe, bumped up the amount of salt to balance the corn and boom: done. I think these little devils are a superb seasonal addition to our bread offerings and I hope you will, too.!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tomato Tarte Tatin

Yep. Tomato tarte tatin. Most likely, if someone said 'dessert' to you, a tomato tarte tatin would not be the first thing to come to mind. That's OK, because I'm gonna work to make it something you not only think about, but enjoy!

So, I've got a ton of tomatoes coming in right now and am looking for interesting ways to use them. Why not dessert? I'm not a huge fan of heavy, sweet desserts and since the tomato is considered a fruit, I figured, why not?

I start with a good group of Akers West Virginia tomatoes that I have peeled the skin off of and cut in half. I love the Akers tomato and this growing season has been especially good for Akers(read: I've got a boat load of them.). The next step is to add sugar, vanilla bean and butter to the bottom of a copper pan. Neatly arrange the tomatoes cut side up in the pan and cook over moderate heat until a syrupy caramel forms.(Note: the more moisture in your tomatoes, the longer this step will take. If you use those nasty tomatoes from the grocery story, the cook time will be almost immediate. Actually, if you plan on using tomatoes from the grocery store, please stop reading now. I don't want you to make this dish.) Once you've reached caramel stage, sprinkle about 6 leaves of lemon verbena over the tomatoes and place a circle of puff pastry over the tomatoes. Prick with a paring knife and cook at 425 for about 20 minutes. Once 20 minutes has gone by, remove the tarte from the oven and shake it to make sure it is loose from the sides. Then......flip it over on to a plate.

The other components of this dish are sour cream ice cream, basil granola(it's awesome, trust me), some flowering basil from the garden and caramel. Done.

Monday, August 16, 2010


My dad and I harvested a ridiculous load of sweet corn from the garden today....

Just a little back story on our corn crop for 2010. The corn was a little bit of an afterthought. You see, we had originally planted carrots and leeks which did not take in the early stages of the garden, so we decided to cut our losses and quickly put in four rows of yellow corn. If you're a tried and true central Pennsytucky resident, you've already recoiled at the thought of 'yellow' corn. Trust me, folks. I know what the hell I'm talking about.

It seems that white sweet corn is everywhere in today's farmers markets. You can count your lucky stars if you can find bi-color. Well, that's where I have a huge problem. I really don't like the current versions of white sweet corn because the seeds have been manipulated to the point that they taste 'too sweet' and don't have a solid 'corn flavor'. Honestly, this pisses me off. I want my corn to taste like corn, not corn flakes. So, the answer is yellow corn.

If you're lucky enough to have any old cookbooks laying around(and by old, I mean old like 1930's old) or you have family recipes that utilize corn, take note of the fact that almost all of the recipes call for some degree of sugar. You see, corn wasn't always as sweet as BIG AG currently makes it. Not even close. I can already hear the yelling from the hills...'well, if the recipe calls for sugar that means that the olde timey corn wasn't sweet enough and this new corn is a modern marvel of technology.' Well, hold on to your smarty pants, buster. The addition of sugar to old recipes put the control of the sweetness in the hands of the cook. Which, quite honestly, is where it needs to be. Want a corn pudding that isn't so sweet? Don't add the sugar called for in the recipe. Want a corn ice cream? Add a little more sugar. You see, I don't have ANY desire to have a chemist in Iowa deciding for me how sweet or savory my corn pudding should be. SO.....say it with me......'yellow corn'.

Yeah, I made you read all of that stuff, simply to find out about the FREE STUFF ALERT!

Thank you to everyone who took me up on my offer of a little free garden tomato salad last week..... This week(August 18-21), we're going to be offering a little gift of corn from the kitchen. My great grandmother had a recipe for corn fritters that I grew up on and honestly, really enjoy so I thought they would be the perfect vehicle for getting our corn IN-TO-YOUR-BELLY! Mention this blog post WHEN YOU MAKE YOUR RESERVATION for this week(August 18-21) and we'll send you a plate of my great grandmother's corn fritters on us. I couldn't be happier with this year's crop of has only proven to spur ideas for next year's garden!

FYI, if for some reason(I honestly can't think of a good one) you can't make it to the restaurant this week to nosh on your complimentary plate of corn fritters, the yellow corn that we grew will be for sale at this friday's Farm Fresh Market at the Gettysburg Outlet Center. Look for the Sheppard Mansion Farms booth. Will the most amazingly flavorful heirloom tomatoes be at the booth you ask? See below. I think we'll have a few for sale!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Leavin' on a jet plane.....

That's right. I'm heading to Tuscany tonight for the next 12 days. In addition to trying to get a decent amount of rest, I'm going to try and answer the following questions:

1) Can I eat an entire ham during my stay?

2) Does red wine taste different if you're drinking it at 9am, poolside?

3) Will the famed Tuscan saltless bread taste like a brick of sawdust or be remarkable?

4) Is there any gelato in all of Italy that is better than the raspberry soft serve in a pretzel cone from York Street Treat?

Those are questions I'm looking to answer. Please check out the blog as I'll be trying to post the answers frequently while I'm there.

Isn't that a cool pic? Well, here's a deal for you: Make a reservation between August 4th-7th, mention this blog post, and I'll send you this very dish(made with our kitchen garden's tomatoes and cucumbers....they look great and will be bursting by the time I get back!) compliments of the kitchen. How can you beat that? Well, you can't. Period.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

State of The Garden July 13th

I'm posting a couple of videos below showing the status of the garden today, however I thought it might be fun to take a look at where we started. Enjoy!

Again, I'll just let the video do the talking. I'm really happy about where the garden is at this point in the season!

I pulled up one German Butterball potato plant's what I found.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Sometimes you have to slow down and look around....

We were lucky enough to have a visit from the PA Secretary of Agriculture, Russell Redding a couple of weeks ago and one of the many things I took away from our visit was his phrase 'sometimes you have to slow down and look around.' I'm not sure this is the exact quote, but I know the idea is correct.

Yep, that's Secretary Redding sporting the 'Know Farms Know Food' hat in the herb garden.

This past weekend, I noticed a couple of our guests strolling the property either before or after dinner and thought about the Secretary's statement again. We live in a society that has forgotten the pleasures associated with dining and wants everything faster(I just want a 'quick bite'), more casual(you mean I can't wear my sleeveless Budweiser t-shirt to your restaurant? You're a damn elitist), more choices(What do you mean you don't have 17 iterations of boneless, skinless chicken breast?) and most of all cheaper(You mean I don't even get a salad or foil covered baked potato with that?). I have to be honest with you, I think it's a bunch of bullshit. Certainly, there is a time and place for that type of eating, but it's simply that. Eating. It's not dining. It's not an experience. It's not even good most times, it's simply either quick, cheap, casual or some combination of the three, but don't kid yourself. It's not good.

There is a place where you can slow down, look around and have a dining experience that is more that just 'eating'. It's in Hanover, PA. So, slow down, have a glass of champagne or a beer and drink in these photos from the past couple of weeks. If you're so inspired, please come an visit us so that you can see these things in person. I'd love to look out the kitchen window and see YOU strolling our property. Actually, why don't you ask your waiter if you can pop your head in the kitchen and I'll take a short stroll around the gardens with you?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


I think the appropriate thing to do here is to simply let the video do the talking.



FYI....It occurred to me after posting this video that in the first five seconds it appears that I have perhaps the hairiest wrist known to man. I can assure you, it's dirt!




Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Watcha Doin' this Sunday?

Answer: Attending my grilling class at the Mansion.

That's right. It's time for our annual summer grilling class. It happens this Sunday, 1pm at the Mansion. Outside. Grill. Drinks. Alcoholic Drinks. Beef, pork and chickens for sale after the class. Anything else you need to know?

OK, so it's $45 per person. What does that get you? Well, I'll be demonstrating how to grill salmon, the 'perfect' Sheppard Mansion Farms burger, Rettland Farms pork belly, and a few surprises. In addition to tastes of the food, Karen will be mixing up some of her signature 'farm to glass' cocktails and we'll have some amazing Pennsylvania beers.

So, like I're gonna call the Mansion(717.633.8075) and secure your spot, right? There are a few spaces left; get one while they're HOT!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

How many hours are in a day?

Right. There aren't enough hours in a day. Just like everyone else, my 'to do' list is huge and seems to get longer when I sit down to rewrite it. So, what's the point?

Well, sometimes you just don't have enough hours of daylight and you're not sure when you're gonna be able to come up for air. However, sometimes the radishes have to get picked. Radishes don't give a damn if you're busy. When they're ready, they're ready. Period. So, get your ass out and pick them.....and pick them I did; after dinner service. Tonight. Check it out.

This first pic is from this past sunday when we planted 24 heirloom tomato plants.

OK, so check this video. Yes, it's a moonlit night and that doesn't come across in the video. Sorry, but come on....I'm picking radishes at 10pm!!!!

Here's the finished product. French breakfast radish.

And, here's your final video. Radishes cleaned, lined up and ready for service tomorrow morning. Farm to table? You betcha. wink, wink.

Oh, and if you don't have an iPhone and are picking radishes at 10pm, I highly suggest investing in one. The flashlight app was a life saver tonight.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Playin' in the dirt.

Wow. It's been way too long since I've posted. Sorry about that! This Spring has been very busy and I guess I just fell a bit behind on posting.

So, in order to make up for my lack of post-ability, I've got a bunch of content to throw your way over the next few days and I promise to post with a bit more regularity. Honestly, with so many interesting projects in the works and such great products coming to our back door, I feel like I could post every day!

OK, here we go.....updates from the garden.

A couple of weeks ago, we started processing this piece of land.

After an initial pass by the tractor, the cleaning of the soil(raking grass and picking out rocks) was under way, followed by multiple passes with our tiller.

OK, let the planting begin! In the photo below, you can see the mound to the left which are piles of grass and debris that we sifted off the soil to make for a smoother dirt of can also catch the stakes poking out of the ground which label our rows.

During this first stage, we planted the following seeds: sunflowers, chinese asters, golden marguerite, german chamomile, firmament, chives, sweet mace, scarlet nantes carrots, plum purple radish, borage, and french breakfast radish.

Round 2 of planting concentrated solely on potatoes. Namely two varieties. La ratte and german butterball.

I have to take a second at this point and let everyone know that I'm not doing this garden on my own. My dad has been an enormous source of information and physical labor and without his help, NONE of this would be happening. So, thanks Dad! YOU should thank my dad every time you enter the restaurant this growing season. During Round 2 of planting my dad and I were joined by Mansion waiters Sam Jacquez and Brian Roark. Can you believe that shit? Some restaurant waiters can blather on about the restaurant's alleged farm to table ethos, but how many waiters can not only describe the variety of potato that you're asking about, BUT can they also tell you that they planted those potatoes? These guys got their hands dirty putting those seed potatoes in the ground. They got a sore back digging down into the soil to create the trough for the seeds. I gotta thank Sam and Brian for showing up the day after a long Mother's Day service to help us plant these special potatoes. So, if you've been to the restaurant, you'll recognize Sam in this picture, cutting seed potatoes.

In this shot, you'll see Brian placing the seed potatoes. Again, here's one of our waiters working the garden, growing your food. Why on God's green Earth would you want to eat anywhere else?????????

This final shot is my dad pulling soil over the newly planted potatoes. The first thought that came into my head when posting this photo was 'God bless sweatpants'.

That's where we're at with the garden. The herb garden on the property has been giving us onions, edible flowers and herbs for weeks....I encourage you to come a little early for your reservation, grab a glass of champagne and stroll the gardens. It's such a relaxing way to start the dinner!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Ramps Have the Best PR Firm EVER......

Yeah, I said it. First, let me mention that I've been a huge supporter of ramps in the past. Now, I've grown up.

So, what exactly is a ramp? Basically, it's a wild leek that calls West Virginia and parts of the mid-Atlantic home. I suppose the taste is sort of like a garlicky, leeky, spring onion. For a couple of years now, the 'food trendsetters' have been tripping over themselves heaping praise on this wild sprout like it was some new type of caviar we've never tasted before. Like I said above and you can see from this pic, I've cooked my share of ramps in the past.(the ramps are in the center of the photo, along with a host of other spring ingredients)

The problem is that I just don't get it. I don't understand why every alleged 'foodie', food magazine, and chef seems to drop everything they're doing in the name of ramps. I saw recently that a restaurant in New York City(and if it's happening in New York City it MUST be cool) was doing an entire ramp tasting menu....ramp ice cream, ramp sorbet, no thanks.

For me, I'd much rather elevate a stellar spring onion from my friend Samuel Martin or even better pulled fresh from our gardens. Or, how about pristine asparagus? Or the first of Tim Brown's strawberries?

Listen, I had ramps on our early spring menu this year, but I've finally come around to trusting my gut and palate(both of which are saying 'what's the big freaking deal'), so I'm telling the food intelligencia to piss up a rope. Even though all the cool kids on the playground are doing 48 course ramp tasting menus, I'll be the kid by himself on the other side of the playground covering himself in charred spring onion vinaigrette and wrapping just cut asparagus in country ham. Oh, I'll also be the chubby kid in the too tight Twisted Sister t-shirt stuffing morels with bone marrow and oxtail.

I suppose the lesson here is to cook what you love to eat and don't let trends or others influence you. If you're not feeling it, then you're not feeling it. If you cook what you love to eat and the people who raised what you're cooking are passionate about producing food, then you could honestly elevate dog shit to a higher level.*

*NOTE: Please take my word on elevating dog shit to a higher level. There really is no good reason to try this at home.