Tom is an administrator at City College of San Francisco, which has a wonderful Culinary Arts and Hospitality Department. Tom is friends with the chair of that department, Tannis, and they often talk about Poppy Corners, and Tom often brings in produce, eggs. or honey for Tannis to taste. Tannis had always wanted to connect her department with our 'farm,' in some way. The department has a fundraising auction every year, and this spring Tannis asked Tom if we would host a farm lunch here, cooked by the department staff. Our answer was an enthusiastic yes! And so we were an item at the auction, and a nice young lady won lunch for six, and that lunch finally took place today.
It wasn't as hot as it was last weekend, but it was still around 100 degrees on our back patio, so these six friends from San Francisco got the real inland summer experience! They were cheerful about it and very interested in the farm and everything we're doing here, and the actual lunch was really spectacular. Two of the department staff, Barbara and Mark, came out to prepare and cook it, and they were terrific. They first visited on Friday to reconnaissance, which was interesting in itself - fun to watch them walk around and talk about what they could use and how they could make it all work. The first thing Barbara wanted to see was our kitchen, and thankfully she didn't blanch at how tiny it is. Then we walked around the garden and picked out the reddest, ripest tomatoes for the gazpacho, some cucumbers, some garlic, some basil, a bunch of eggs, and honey. Today, they arrived back at the house with various boxes and bins and knives and aprons and they got to work immediately.
As we had already done our own prep work (tidying the garden, cleaning the house, making the centerpiece, minor really), we Boegels tried to stay out of the chefs' way and enjoyed listening in to the chatter: "Your peach pulp is on the second shelf of the fridge." "Will you poach your sausages before grilling them?" "Are those Arbequina olives you preserved?" "I want to present the tortilla on a wooden board," Thrilling, really, to hear how professionals manage all this. At one point I turned to Tom and said, "They sound so calm." Before a dinner party, I usually sound anything but calm.
Our guests arrived, and showed interest in the farm and its workings right away. Barbara served the peach bellinis, made sure everyone had melon and prosciutto bites, and off we went on a tour of the property. Our guests had lots of questions, some had grown their own veg in containers on balconies, some were home brewers, some were frightened of bees, some were adoring of chickens, all were interested in everything we were doing here and that made it a fun tour.
Then it was time for lunch! Tom and I were included in the meal, which I didn't expect, but was thrilled about; both Kate and Adam got their fare share in the kitchen so they weren't left out (Adam ate everything, Kate ate the gazpacho). The food was amazing, simple cooking (by expert hands), highlighting the ingredients of summer and the farm. The men especially liked Tom's beer and were very interested in his process and his hop bines. Honeybees visited the flowers in the centerpiece as we ate, a hen crowed that she laid an egg, fritillary butterflies flitted around nearby, and a hawk called from the sky. Our six guests, most in their early 30's, were all incredibly well-traveled and had lots of fun stories to share and were fascinating to listen to.
This is exactly what we envisioned when we started this farm project so many years ago: People getting together on a hot summer day around a big home-crafted table, all the bounty of the farm on the table in front of us, and nature singing all around us. Yes, yes, yes.
We had a marvelous time and the food was stupendous. And I didn't even have to clean the kitchen afterward; Mark and Barbara took care of all of that. What a fabulous day!