Posted on

FinnRiver Farm & Cidery

I think we’re on to something. Last Sunday was our 2nd local farm tour Day Trip (The first was Hama Hama) and it was fabulous! We held it atFinnRiver Farm & Cidery, where I fell in love with the owners last February. 24 people signed up to enjoy the day with us, so we fed close to 40 people once we counted ourselves, Vicky, Erin & Leslie, the farm team and other special guests. On Friday Mark, Erin and I went to the Port Townsend/Chimacum area to gather supplies including cheese and curds from Mt Townsend Creamery; vanilla bean ice cream from Elevated Ice Cream; lots of produce from Red Dog Farm; fresh blueberries and strawberries from Finnriver and we dropped a few items off for the event while we were there. Keith told us about a place we could grab a bite to eat on our way out and we were starving since these errands had taken us longer than we had anticipated.

We landed at The Valley Tavern in Port Hadlock and I now have a new favorite hangout-I only wish it was closer to home! When we walked in to sit down Cindy the bartender brought over a bowl of popcorn, and I knew I was in a good place. They claim to be the friendliest tavern in the Pacific Northwest and I agree! The service was very nice, the food was very good and they keep the menu simple. The ambiance must be experienced, I know I won’t do it justice, but the place is awesome. The chairs are padded office chairs that tilt back and roll around. Or you can sit at the bar on great ‘vintage’ bar stools, in a booth, or outside on the patio. They have a couple of tv’s with sports on them and Friday was all you can eat fish and chips and salad. The place was full of locals and there was even a couple of shelves of novels that they offer as a lending library, because who would not want to borrow a novel from a tavern?? I read that they also have a mini laundromat, though I did not see it, and I seriously love this place. It’s a bit worn in a comfortable way, like a soft pair of slippers that you just love to put on.

Before we left that day I put some Neah Bay coho salmon filets into a salt and sugar cure, and on Saturday Mark and I began to prepare the foods for Sunday. The salmon cured nicely and I flaked it into a Lomi Lomi Salmon salad, which has tomatoes, cilantro, lime and macadamia nuts in it. This is going to be a permanent part of our catering menu as everyone loved it! I got more comments on that dish than any other. We also made tomato/cucumber salad with fresh mint, organic greens salad with raspberry vinaigrette, cut up watermelon and cantaloupe from Eastern WA (thanks to Local Boys in Purdy!) and iced tea for everyone to drink. There is a small wood-fire cob oven on the farm and Mark made pizza dough with flour from Finnriver’s grains, then cooked pizzas for everyone. The meat pizza had an olive oil base, roasted chicken breast (from Whatcom County), baby leeks, cheese curds and was topped with fresh arugula & olive oil. The veggie pizza had a tomato sauce base, fresh goat’s ricotta from Mystery Bay Farm, fresh tomatoes & basil. These pizzas were delicious and Mark couldn’t keep them coming out fast enough because there was only room for one at a time in the oven. For dessert Mark made Finnriver blueberry gallettes, which he warmed in the oven and we served with the Elevated ice cream.

As our guests arrived we invited them to look around and then Crystie, the farm wife, gave a guided tour of the farm. They got to see many things growing as well as chickens and pigs and honey bees, and then they came back to eat. We had fresh strawberries out on the picnic tables for everyone to enjoy, and the rest of the food was set up on hay bales-we were on a farm, after all! The loveliest possible musician serenaded our afternoon with soft song and guitar. Her name is Jes Raymond and I could kiss Crystie for finding this gem. Her style was bluegrass and she perfected the day even more than the sun’s coming out did! I was lucky enough to get a cd, which means that I get to listen to her again. We will definitely remember her talents for other events! After the tour Crystie gave everyone some of the farmstead hard cider they make in the cidery, and talked about the methods that they use. She also let us taste the artisan cider, which is done in the method of champagne, and is my favorite. Many of our guests sat at picnic tables under an awning, next to the flower garden. A few other sat out in the sun around a funky little table that Crystie brought out from the tasting room. Everyone ate with gusto and then slowed to a leisurely nibble.

As tummies got full, the last bits of pizza were eaten and the folks could only stare at the rest of the leftovers, they started to wander around. The cidery has a beautiful tasting room and there is U-pick on the farm, so blueberries were picked and the day was enjoyed to the fullest. As far as I could tell everyone had a wonderful time during this idyllic day, and then quietly wandered towards their cars to go home. My feet were filthy since I had applied sunblock earlier and the dirt stuck. We packed everything up, said our goodbyes and went back to the cafe to clean up the mess. We forgot a few things, like the other stack of paper plates (oops!), though I hope that our mistakes were easily overlooked for the things we did well. We will definitely partner with the Kislers at Finnriver Farm again!

The next big event is September 19th when we will have the Kitsap Harvest Meal: A Farmer, Chef, Community Connection. Like last year’s meal we will feature many area chefs and cooks, using produce and proteins from local area farms, and this year there will be far fewer flies since we are having it at the Olympic College campus, rather than the fair grounds. I will keep you posted because I know you won’t want to miss the best meal of the year!

This week is National Farmers Market Week, so I encourage you to get out to a market and load up on local food! If you want a day trip to a market you may not have tried you could check out Port Townsend’s market on Saturday or Chimacum’s market on Sunday-many of our event producers are at those markets and you can taste their wonderful food. If you would rather hit the city side of life you cannot miss the Saturday UW market, which is the oldest farmer only market in the state, and the Columbia City Market is supposed to be fabulous as well. Sundays has the Ballard market, which is phenomenal with 100 stalls, and a destination all its own. Of course sticking close to home and going to a Kitsap market (or several markets) is always fun, too. I may do a market marathon this Saturday, as I don’t think I have any catering to do, so watch for my “Meet Me At the Market” posts on our web site, twitter and facebook…maybe you will be the first to find me and win the prize!!

What will you do with your market finds? Here is a meal you can make using 100% market ingredients from the Poulsbo market:

Purchase: fresh eggs, garlic, spinach, cheese (I love the truffled fromage blanc from Mt Townsend), fresh herbs, potatoes, bread, & goat’s milk.

4-5 fingerling potatoes per person (how many are you feeding?)
olive oil
coarse salt

1-2 eggs per person
a dash of goat’s milk per person
salt & pepper

olive oil or butter or pan spray
1 clove garlic per 1-2 people, minced
1 small bunch of spinach, torn
fresh herbs, chopped

a loaf of bread

‘Crack’ each potato by pounding it with a pan or rolling pin. You don’t want to shatter it, just crack it. Place the potatoes in one layer, in a heavy bottom pan. Bring the heat to medium low, cover and let go for about 10 minutes (if the potatoes are larger than fingerling, let them go 15-20 minutes). Turn the potatoes over, re-cover and cook again 10-20 minutes, until fork tender. When they are done toss them in a bit of good olive oil and coarse salt. When you plate them, put them in the center of the plate and smash them a bit with a fork.

While the spuds are cooking crack the eggs into a bowl, add a splash of the milk, season them with salt and pepper and whisk them briskly until they are fully incorporated; set aside.

When the potatoes are just about done:
heat a pan with a bit of oil (or butter or pan spray) and drop in the fresh garlic. Saute for a couple of minutes.
Pour in the mixture of eggs, toss in the spinach and cook on low heat, stirring to keep the eggs from sticking.
When the eggs start to firm up, add in the cheese and fresh herbs. Cook until the eggs are as firm as you like, top the potatoes with them, and enjoy them with some fresh bread!

I know it sounds like breakfast, but this makes an easy and delicious dinner, too!

Ciao for now!