sylvar: (B5: Ivanova: In Love)
"We'll have one of everything," we told our server. Thus began a meal that was, in the words of Barney Stinson, legendary.

We'd arrived at Farm 255 an hour after it opened for the night. Every time we come here, the menu is different; it changes daily based on what's been harvested at the farm that morning. What we didn't expect was that on Sunday night, Farm 255 serves "Sunday Night Small Plates".

So I did a bit of arithmetic. 13 dishes, most around $4-5. It would be expensive, but as a treat for our anniversary and my wife's birthday -- and as a feat we'd likely never get another chance at -- we decided to put ourselves in the good hands of Farm 255's kitchen and try one of everything. And besides, my dad told us to go out and have a great meal at his expense. Thanks, Dad! Here's what you bought us.

DEVILED EGGS: Smoked paprika, fleur de sel [ 3 ]

Impossibly creamy, topped with fresh dill. I wanted to rush out and buy a proper deviled-egg plate for my next party, but then I remembered I'd never had deviled eggs this good anywhere else, and probably would never be able to make them this good. For $3, we got three halves. As with nearly everything else, it was a very good value.

SPICY NUTS [ 4 ]

Around one cup of walnut pieces, roasted with spices. The least impressive of the night's dishes, and still tasty. I didn't finish them all mainly because my wife is allergic and I'd rather kiss her.

PINK-EYE PEA HUMMUS: lavash [ 4 ]

Warm flatbread fingers, sturdy and crisp, to dip into a hummus not accented by but made primarily of pink-eye peas. The hummus had a light grassy flavor, and our server asked us later what we thought of this dish particularly. It hasn't been selling well. I offered that most people would expect a bit of tahini in a hummus, even if there's no chickpeas, and that I thought a bit of salt would bring the flavor out of its shell.

MARINATED OLIVES: mint & orange [ 3 ]

Hands down, THE best value at Farm 255. For three bucks, you get about a cup of mixed olives glistening in their marinade of olive oil, mint, and orange zest. Every bite sings. I miss this dish terribly when it isn't available, and I was thrilled to see that fresh mint had been available to put it on the menu this night.

FRITES: rosemary aioli [ 4 ]

I've never understood why anyone would combine french fries with mayonnaise. Now that I've tried their upscale cousin, I sort of understand. I liked the frites just fine on their own. If anything, the portion was too generous; by the time we got to the bottom of it, steaming had undone the work of the fryer. The frites function best as a sop to traditionalists who can't bear to have dinner without a pile of fries; I'd skip them next time and save room for other treats.

GAZPACHO: Full Moon cucumbers & green tomatoes, Marcona almonds [ 6 ]

A large bowl brimming with freshly minced zingy veggies, enough for two to share. We did. But we were distracted by...

FULL MOON SQUASH & ZUCCHINI SALAD: almonds, olive oil [ 5 ]

That's the recipe, folks. Tender squash and zucchini, harvested at its peak, then julienned before it had time to register shock. My wife hates zucchini and squash -- they usually taste bitter to her. On this occasion, I was lucky to get a few forkfuls, and grateful for every bite. This dish, like many of Farm 255's best, reminds you where your food comes from -- and reminds you, by contrast, of the tradeoffs inherent in global agriculture. This dish could never have succeeded with zucchini picked far away and trucked in. We tasted it while it still remembered feeling that morning's sunrise on its leaves, so to speak.

GRILLED CORN: Boo & Becky's grilled corn, cumin, smoked butter [ 3 ]

I can't eat corn, so my wife got this all to herself. Then again, she can't eat nuts, so I got those all to myself. What I can say about this dish, though, is that she enjoyed the ear of corn, split into two pieces, with indecent enthusiasm. I like that in a wife. I can also say that I got to taste the smoked butter, which was served with brown malty bread, and was astonished by its flavor. I kid you not: I looked around to see if something was on fire.

TOMATO PLATE: local tomatoes, fleur de sel, olive oil, balsamico [ 4 ]

The menu sells this dish short. "Balsamico" was a smoky reduction of an already cask-reduced vinegar, rendered so sweet that if I were ever fortunate to own a bottle of it, I'd sip it on its own. The tomato slices were half-inch slabs, five inches across. I began to understand why some tomatoes are referred to as "beefsteak".

WATERMELON SALAD: Boo & Becky's tomatoes, chevre, basil [ 7 ]

Pardon me, I seem to be drooling on the keyboard. It's just that I have never in my life tasted watermelon so inexpressibly sweet. Paired with plump slices of tomato, and given a creamy umami kick by the chevre, I absolutely could not get enough. At the end of the evening, when we were asked about desserts, our #1 pick would have been another plate of watermelon salad, only we didn't have any room left over. This was the best dish I've ever had at Farm 255, and that's really saying something.

CAST IRON RACLETTE: cornichons, toast [ 9 ]

"Raclette" is French for "searing hot metal meets innocent cheese, legs get all wobbly, and fingertip burns become a pleasure to risk". It's like cheese fondue in the sense that the watermelon salad was like a Chick-fil-A fruit cup. The cornichons (French for "jailbait pickles"), were savory and crunchy. We raced to the bottom of this dish and were sad when we'd finally sopped up the last toasted bits of cheese. When Ben Gunn says in TREASURE ISLAND, "Many's the long night I've dreamed of cheese -- toasted, mostly", it is only this cast-iron raclette of which he could be dreaming.

POACHED DARIEN SHRIMP: fried green tomato, carrot vinaigrette [ 7 ]

I left most of this dish to my sweetie the omnivore, though she insisted that I try a bit of fried green tomato in carrot vinaigrette. She's so good to me. It was tasty indeed, and I'd gladly have eaten this with more fried green tomato in place of the shrimp, even if it did have a local pedigree from the Georgia coast.

PULLED PORK: Full Moon pork, cornbread, Full Moon smoked cherry tomatoes [ 8 ]

By this point, I was happy to let my sweetie do the gustatory heavy lifting. I did help her with the smoked cherry tomatoes, roasted almost to the point of bursting, which they finally did in my mouth -- oh my.

MISCELLANEOUS NOTES:

The chef was so honored by our epic four-hour feat that he sent out a complimentary plate of what our server said was among the best prosciuttos of the world -- an item that never even appeared on the menu. In turn, I was so honored by this gift that I suspended my vegetarianism of nearly 20 years to try a piece, and told the chef so. I was not disappointed; it didn't so much melt in my mouth as dissipate like a salty morning fog. I don't regret the choice, but it solidified my personal opinion that meat isn't worth it for me. I'm confident that I've tasted some of the very finest flesh that carnivory can offer, and I'd rather have another watermelon salad, squash and zucchini salad, bowl of marinated olives, or plate of deviled eggs any day.

THE PRICE:

Our bill was a little under $80, and we tipped $20 for the excellent service that made our experience so wonderful. So, in the end, we enjoyed a culinary orgy of pleasures for less than we'd have spent on a day at Disney. We sure can't afford to do this on our own -- it was for our anniversary in June, and her birthday in late July, and I'm retroactively declaring it my birthday dinner (in late August) as well. But if you've got a hundy stick burning a hole in your pocket, or you've been so inspired by our enjoyment that you want to try it yourself, just go.

Go to Farm 255 on a Sunday night and order one of everything.

(This review appeared in a shorter, under-5000-characters, version on Yelp.)
sylvar: (Default)
One and a half missed hours of my life.

November 2010

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