Farm to Fork is more than a series of dinners, it is a sustainable movement spreading across the Rogue Valley connecting guests to their food sources, honor the talented farmers, food artisans, winemakers, and chef's that contribute to the growing culinary reputation and local food community of Southern Oregon. Chris and I were fortunate to have attend the inaugural event Saturday, June 5th at Salant Family Ranch in Jacksonville, Oregon.
We arrived at the emaculate Salant Family Ranch at 4:30 p.m. and could instantly feel the high energy and excitement that radiated off the event's organizers and servers. We sipped on the aromatic 2008 Valley View Winery Anna Maria Viognier and snacked on Spring Radishes filled with fresh herbs, mama terra chevre and pea shoots and Braised Beef Shoulder with spiced carrot puree, SunStone toast, and créme fraiche. The Constant Tourists entertained the growing crowd with live music and even some tap dancing.
Matthew Domingo, organizer and chef, welcomed guests and introduced the brilliant minds behind the events- fellow chef, Kristen Lyons, producer and teacher, Lori Campbell, and Sascha Meier, a sustainable business consultant and promoters of small farm agriculture.
We were then toured around the ranch by owner, Peter Salant. Peter shared his story about how he got into cattle ranching and what it is like to be a rancher in the Rogue Valley. His ranch is relatively small for the region, raising between 25 and 40 ewes at any given time, but that is what he and his herd are comfortable on their land. Peter also discussed the process of predator control, meat processing and certifications. Peter prides himself on raising healthy, antibiotic and hormone-free, grass-fed beef that is sold to area restaurants, retailers and directly to the consumer.
After the tour we were ushered in the beautifully set tables where we enjoyed a delicious meal. Chef Kristen Lyon introduced each course explaining where the ingredients were sourced from and her kitchen techniques:
Cowhorn Garden Asparagus, Wild Mushrooms and Oregon Truffle Oil
Flank Steak Salad
Village Farm Lettuces, Grilled Blue Fox Sweet Onions, Rogue Creamery Blue Cheese and Shallot Vinaigrette
New York Roast
Crispy Potatoes, Village Farm Green Garlic and Grilled Blue Fox Scapes
Blue Fox Farm Rhubarb Compote and Macerated Strawberries
The dinner was wonderfully paired with the 2006 Valley View Winery Anna Maria Tempranillo and 2006 Valley View Winery Anna Maria Syrah, both great compliments to the vegetable and grass-fed dishes. Noble Coffee Roasting of Ashland poured two French Press coffees- Ethiopian Hafursa and Ugandan Bugisu- obviously not local, but both are certified organic and have stunning fruit notes.
In between courses representatives from local non-profits, government, farms, and wineries shared their efforts that left me deeply moved and empowered. I had no idea so many advocates where working towards this mission of sustainable food in the Rogue Valley and I am excited to join with them.
If you happened to miss the first event, don't fret, six more events remain in this year's Farm to Fork series:
- June 26th- Dunbar Farms, Medford
- July 31st- Restoration Farm, Ashland
- August 28th- Happy Dirt Veggie Patch, Ashland
- September 11th- Blackberry Lane Farm, Grants Pass
- October 9th- Rogue Valley Brambles, Talent
- November 6th- Dunbar Farms, Medford
Chris and I plan to attend more Farm to Fork events this summer and we hope you join us!