…Specifically, to this wonderful party:
By Margo True, Sunset Food Editor
If there’s such a thing as backyard-farm heaven, we were there this past Saturday. Our new book, The One-Block Feast, was the guest of honor (and the inspiration for) the first annual Smallholding Festival, held at a lusciously green garden center in Ottsville, Pennsylvania.
Presented by my friends Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton, the creators of Canal House Cooking, the festival was all about the kinds of food crafts we’ve written about on this blog. Beekeepers, cheesemakers, breadbakers, brewers, and at least a dozen other local artisans and farmers came out to show what it’s possible to do in your backyard.
Anyone who wanted to could smush up mud for bricks (right), which were formed and used to build an actual oven (the beginnings of it are on the table behind the mud patch). A finished oven (left) turned out pizza.
There was even the world’s most patient cow, milked hourly by excited guests.
Most of the artisans handed out samples. But there was plenty of other food, too—like insanely delicious ice cream from The Bent Spoon (scooped from the modified sidecar of a green Vespa; see the photo below), grass-fed brisket, Applegate hot dogs, large crackly-skinned hams dripping into an enormous paella pan of potatoes, and minty lemonade sold by kids.
After the festival’s closing bell rang at 3, about 70 invited guests sat down to a fried-chicken feast in the barn to celebrate the day. Christopher and Melissa—with the help of another ex-Saveur friend, Julia Lee, and lots of volunteers—orchestrated it all. They even made the napkins.
Guests begin to filter into the barn for lunch.
We sipped creamy, tangy avocado soup, crunched on smoked-salmon toasts, and got to know (or catch up with) one another, cooled by the breeze blowing through the big barn doors. Platters of golden fried chicken came around, along with potato salad spiked with preserved lemon, tomato salad, dill and watermelon pickles, and a juicy apricot cobbler.
And we sold lots of books.
If the sound and look of this whets your appetite, then come on out next year! Christopher and Melissa will be glad to see you.