There aren’t many meals we’ve eaten that have sent us all into stunned silence… This was one of them. Well, there were oooohs and ahhhhs for sure, but we struggled to find the words to do it justice.
Rewind an hour or so and we’d arrived at Patowmack Farm and Restaurant… a suggestion from the Virginia Tourist Board. Perfect for us to visit on route to Washington DC and New York.
We were greeted at the gate with a tray of crispy chicken mushrooms and a negroni cocktail using a local whiskey. The mushrooms had been harvested on the estate had prepared in a chicken broth, floured in a Kentucky spiced mixture and fried. It was to become clear that so much phenomenal produce was grown on the 40-acre plot.
The farm is a concept that began seriously low key by Beverly Billand. She was originally a nurse and soon realised that a healthy diet was the key to her children’s health. She would grow stuff organically to keep it super clean and nutritious. As the food she was growing increased in volume she would host dinners every so often for local friends and family to get around her hatred of wasting food. It’s grown from there and years later her dream of a restaurant serving up dishes created from ingredients grown, picked and found on the property is drawing in crowds from neighbouring towns and even as far as Washington DC.
Tarver King, the incredibly talented and down-to-earth chef, was behind the food output of the place. However, he also knew a thing or two about what was being grown. He gave us a tour of what they were growing and we picked a few bits for lunch.
Blueberries were plentiful and unbelievable plump and sweet, the wine berries had just come into season and acted like nature’s gummy bears, plus we picked juniper berries from a red cedar.
They also keep hens, ducks and geese for eggs, had a few people working the farm who were harvesting fava beans at the time, grew a Russian variety of rice in a small plot that didn’t need a wet paddy field and had areas devoted to countless herbs, leafy greens, beets, squashes, asparagus and radishes. Jamie even got to try a miracle berry (one of the only ones left that the geese hadn’t eaten!)
The real highlight though was when we were treated to a fabulous meal with an incredible view across the valley towards Maryland. Served family style everything was delicious but a few favourites were:-
Soft as butter, elm-smoked organic beef from a local guy that Tarver cooked right in front of us on a tray of hot stones that he’d collected from the creek. Topped with a drizzle of bone broth and some warm potted blue cheese.
A scallop roe taramasalata topped with pumpkin seeds and served with some fingers of porridge bread… A dense, golden bread made from a base of oat porridge and finished with rye seed.
Gorgeous mushrooms picked on site that were quickly and lightly sautéed with a drizzle of home made split pea soy sauce. The most satisfying mouthful of umami ever!
A Kellly Bronze turkey breast (a taste of home I guess… The only other place its bred is in the UK where it began with the Kelly family). This plateful had been cooked and smoked in hay, then finished with a juniper butter sauce.
Our dessert was a Blueberry Eton mess with sorrel meringues. The blueberries we’d just picked had been warmed in a honeysuckle syrup until they were just soft and about to pop and the pale green mini meringue drops gave it a delicious herbal note so the mixture wasn’t overly sickly sweet. It was far from a mess… It was a beautiful.
Tarver is a legend and delivering outstanding food in the gorgeous setting on Beverly’s farm. We also crammed some stuff into his jeep and wiggled our way down a track to the creek so that we could film a recipe shin-deep in water… Another first!
Big thanks to Beverly for letting us onto her farm and sharing her dream with us. As if the generosity wasn’t enough she even sent us on our way with a few bottles of their homemade vinegars… Can’t wait to transform salads with these as the base!