I started my day with strawberries and it would end with strawberries. (I can’t think of many things better than that, can you?) I haven’t celebrated my birthday, really, in some time. I’m an empty-nest mom, my fiancé lives far from here. But this one just sort of happened. It started about ten days earlier, when a friend and I were trying to set up a lunch date. And then another friend of mine … oh let me just tell you about it.
Breakfast was thick Greek yogurt with fresh strawberries from the farmers’ market to sweeten it. (Popped the rest of them into the freezer—they were overripe—to make smoothies later.) And then I drove to Nashville to meet my friend Susan. We like to eat at the Sunflower Café, in the Berry Hill district of Nashville. It’s all locally sourced food, made fresh every day. Vegetarian, with vegan options too.
It was such a nice day that we decided to eat on their shaded patio. I had the veggie burger (love it!) and steamed vegetables.
We’re working on a project together, so we spent some time talking work, coming up with ideas and next steps. Then she had a press check and I … well, I was taking the day off. And I had more to look forward to. 🙂
Ten days earlier, my friend Heather had posted this photo to Facebook, with a message along the lines of I wish my husband didn’t have to work on Friday nights. Heather’s a cookbook editor, an accomplished cook, a farmers’ market/locavore enthusiast (as am I), and I’m thrilled to count her among my circle of smart women friends.
I’ve been reading about this phenomenon of farm dinners—you see them in vineyards, orchards, on working farms. This is the sort of thing I’d really enjoy. So naturally my response was Hello, you don’t need a husband to go out to dinner. Would I do? Heather promptly RSVP’d to Batey Farms.
So this was my second birthday meal. And as it turns out, another couple—Susan and Brian (she went to high school with my son)—were also going, so we made arrangements to sit together.
It’s a good thing I set out for the event in plenty of time, though, because I got confused and went to the farm store, not the berry patch. (Gerry laughed at me later when I told him I put twenty extra miles on the car, driving around in the countryside.) Over the course of a couple frantic phone calls with Heather—who’d never met Susan and Brian—she was able to locate them and everything turned out swell.
Gosh it was a nice night! I’d brought a bottle of sparkling pinot noir—I’d seen the menu, which included pork tenderloin, and my research indicated either white or a light red would be suitable—and while Brian dealt with the cork, I took some photos.
First on the menu was a baby kale and spinach salad with bleu cheese and champagne honey vinaigrette, sprinkled with strawberries and iced pecans.
Then the sun started to go down as the second course came: smoked pork tenderloin with a potato-kale gratin, and asparagus.
I should say that there was live music and members of the family were circulating, visiting with folks and welcoming us to the farm. It was a nice, relaxed atmosphere. (Some folks had dressed up but most of us were dressed casually. We’d had a high of 86°F earlier in the day but the humidity was very dense. Too hot to be clothes-fussy!)
One of the elements included in the price of the meal was a basket of strawberries … if we wanted to pick them! Small flashlights and buckets were provided. So after the second course, we all got up and went out to the rows of strawberries. Heather and I picked back to back, and filled (well, almost) our basket, which we then split between us. It’s been a long time since I’ve done anything like this (especially in the dark!) but it was more enjoyable than I’d imagined it would be. It’s possible a few berries found their way right into my mouth. 🙂
When we returned to our table, dessert had been served: vanilla panna cotta with strawberries, cardamom syrup, and macadamia nut whipped cream. OMG.
By this time it was well and truly dark—about nine o’clock—and we lingered over the last sips of wine and then wandered back out to our cars. When I turned the corner on my street, my cat Spot bounded across the street two houses up, as if he’d just been waiting for me (I swear, they know the sound of the engine). Laddie and Bean were inside, just as impatient as Spot for a late-night snack. So they had kibble and I had strawberries. 🙂