Scenario: You’re supposed to run the BAA 10K, but then one of your best friends from college gets engaged and invites you to a farm to table dinner to celebrate and enjoy incredible, locally sourced food.
Dilemma: Had I not been planning to run the 10K with my sister, this would have been the easiest decision ever. But I didn’t want to abandon her and I was looking forward to racing together.
Solution: Luckily my sister is super awesome and said “There’s no question! Don’t worry about me! You have to go up!” So my weekend suddenly became a lot less about running, and more about friends and food.
On Friday afternoon, I caught a train out to Pittsfield to meet up with Rachel, another one of my besties from college, and the two of us drove up to Vermont together, catching up and enjoying the gorgeous back roads (and a few super back roads due to some detours. FYI: Vermont detours almost always involve turning onto a long, dirt path that looks like someone’s personal driveway). Rachel and I both went to college with Abi and Pete, and we couldn’t wait to see them and celebrate their engagement!
Soon we arrived at Consider Bardwell Farm, a beautiful dairy farm where Pete manages the goats that make some of the tastiest cheese you’ll ever spread on a cracker (or eat straight-up, the preferred style). Pete’s parents – Laurie and Dan – own the equally beautiful Wayward Goose Farm, which is a stone’s throw away from Consider Bardwell. If you’re ever in the area and want to stay on a stunning farm in Vermont with two of the kindest people ever, you need to check out Wayward Goose’s airbnb. Chris and I absolutely love visiting, and we’re up there as much as possible. In fact, I have a habit of staying much longer than intended every time I visit because it’s just that great.
Consider Bardwell and Wayward Goose work in harmony together to share equipment, rotate pasture, and create the best possible space for their animals and incredible artisanal cheese. In fact, this collaboration earned them the Vermont Sustainable Farm of the Year award in 2013. I’m not typically very comfortable eating meat or fish if I don’t know where it came from, so it’s wonderful to visit and experience those foods knowing how much these farmers love and care for their creatures.
Pete’s mom Laurie is an absolutely phenomenal chef, so I knew the meal that Wayward Goose was preparing was going to be unforgettable. When I saw that her strawberry rhubarb pie was on the menu, my mouth instantly started watering. In fact, this pie is so delicious that it appears I’ve been conditioned like a Pavlovian dog since I can’t type the words “strawberry rhubarb” without salivating. To top it off, Pete has been brewing his own beer for the past few years and it is out of this world. I’m surrounded by beer snobs due to all the time I spend in Vermont and with my dad (primary likes: the New England Patriots, pizza, and craft beer), and they can all attest to its absolute fantasmo orgasmicity. PLUS Abi and Pete are two of my favorite people and I’m so happy that they’re gettin’ hitched!
Needless to say, I was super pumped about the weekend ahead.
On Saturday morning I woke up at 7am, a time that now feels like sleeping in. Since everyone was slowing rising, I stepped outside and curled up on Abi & Pete’s porch with a blanket in the sunshine. It was so lovely to sit and bask and soak up the sounds of the farm first thing in the morning. I was planning to do some meditating, but found myself just quietly listening and decided that was about as relaxing as anything could possibly be.
Soon everyone was up and about and we made a quick breakfast before heading outside for a little yoga. My friends had asked me to lead them through a “yoga for runners” style class, so we spread out blankets and mats in the grass and moved through a mellow practice. I have to say, I really love waking up early on the weekend and having the whole day to enjoy. It was only 10am, and I already felt so great. It was getting pretty hot, so we decided to pick up some sandwiches and head to a nearby lake for the day where we swam, played lawn games, and lounged in giant tubes – ahhh, summer.
After a quick stop for ice cream (you know, to stretch our stomachs for a night of eating…), we headed back to the farm and got ready for dinner. Once we arrived at Wayward Goose, I was instantly blown away by how beautiful the decor was and how delicious the menu sounded. You had me at “summer saison” + “cheese plate.”
The second we stepped outside, Chris looked at me and said, “Are you freaking out right now?” Yes, yes I was. The backyard setup was like stepping into pastoral paradise. Soft, jazzy music emitting from a record player. Cows grazing beside us as their bells gently clinked. Gorgeous table setting complete with wildflowers and linen tablecloths. Sunshine slowly disappearing over the hillside. Not to mention the impending feast and stellar company.
Yep, these are a few of my favorite things.
Now, just to be clear: Wayward Goose is not a tourist destination or petting zoo or any such thing. It’s a real, working farm run by two of the hardest working people I know. I still only largely see the fun side of farm life when I visit, but I know it’s often far from glamorous. But this was a special event and the whole night really highlighted the best of this lifestyle: wonderful community, beautiful scenery, delicious and lovingly made meals.
We poured some of Pete’s incredible beer and began mingling with the other guests. I met so many friendly and wonderful people that I found myself having too much fun to even think about food, a pretty serious feat. That is until Laurie reminded us that the cheese was out and waiting for us – game on!
Consider Bardwell’s Barden Bleu and Sugarhouse Creamery‘s Dutch Knuckle were my favorites of the night. I might have gone a little bit overboard on the cheese, but I regret nothing! Soon we sat down for a super tasty and colorful salad with crunchy radishes, tangy parsnips, and a phenomenal dressing (note to self: seek out recipe). This was soon followed by a savory personal pie along with potatoes and chives, topped with gravy. I’ve only had a few savory pies in my life, but this was so very delicious and brought back great memories of meals in New Zealand, where I studied abroad. As the night grew cooler, this hearty plate warmed our tummies and left everyone full and happy.
But wait, there’s more! I had to take some deep breaths before diving into dessert. I can do this. I can eat more. I believe I can pie! It was love at first bite and I never looked back. This pie is so good that I didn’t want to risk adding ice cream for fear that it would steal from the perfection. You heard me right: I thought that ice cream (my favorite food) might RUIN something! I finally added a touch of vanilla ice cream to my last bite and it certainly did not tarnish a thing. It never does.
After dinner, some impromptu dancing and hanging by the fire let us all digest. The food and company could not have been better, and we had an amazing, relaxing night. I love the way that meals bring people together, and how great feels to celebrate farmers and knowing the source of your food. As Abi said, the night was so special that it’s something we’ll tell our grandkids about. It felt like Thanksgiving in the summer, which should really be a thing. After a few weeks with lots of running and mostly simple meals, this celebratory dinner came at such a wonderful time and acted as a welcome reminder to let loose, unwind, and enjoy the great things in life.
The next morning, we hit up the local farmers market and stocked up on some of our Vermont favorites: Tall Cat Coffee, along with some amazing hummus, granola, rye bread, rainbow chard, arugula, and the sweetest strawberries I’ve ever had. Chris and I then hit the dusty trail back to Boston. I was amazed at how little I ate on Sunday. It was like my body said, you’ve given us all the good stuff. Consider us content until otherwise notified. Now that my appetite has returned to normal, I’ll be thinking about that strawberry rhubarb pie all week…
Luckily I have my farmers market treats to keep the good times rolling.
Until next time, see ya VT!
For bonus points, count how many times I said “pie” in this post.
PS – My sis went on to crush the BAA 10K on her own and almost cried when she saw Shalane Flanagan (one of her heroes) cruise by. I’m now in search of a new race for us to do together 🙂