A True Farm to Table Experience
You may have heard of the fairly new, burgeoning trend in restaurants that offer a 'farm to table' experience. You're most likely in a rustic place with a modern touch and you eat from an all organic menu with Jack's Farm lettuce or Jon Jay's free range lamb. A concept that Chez Panisse's Alice Waters has successfully marketed and executed that she is now able to sell it for nearly $100 per person! Now maybe I've been travelling for too long on a budget but growing things in your own garden and charging mega bucks because it comes from Jack's Farm seems excessive to me. During our travels in Provence, we were able to visit a goat farm that was the real deal Holyfield!
Set back in the mountains above Le Lavandou on the Côte d'Azur, we found out about 'La Ferme de Terme' from our host family and were convinced to visit the goat cheese farm ourselves.
Pulling up at their farm, it was a typical 'no frills' home with minimal cover and a scattering of communal picnic tables. A sign greeted us with their simple philosophy written on it: 'Le pain, le vin, le fromage' or bread, wine and cheese. We sat and were greeted by what looked like the hippie version of Mr. Wizard! He was dressed in a lab apron and goggles and had a mangled, curly beard.
I was expecting him to serve the drinks in an Erlenmeyer flask or be experimenting with the goats in the back but I guess goat cheese production is just messy work! We started with a bottle of fresh apple juice from their orchards and continued with one of everything from the menu of small bites.
First came the chestnut pate with rustic bread and house made olive oil, then came the crudités or a plate of fresh, whole tomatoes (you heard right, just tomatoes on a plate) with some parsley. You would think all this simplicity would be boring, but when you savor every bite and the tomatoes actually have flavor, you really are much more satisfied.
Lastly, they brought out a plate of their goat cheese and a fresh egg omelette with homegrown vegetables from their garden. Holy cow! The goat cheese was amazing!! It is the finest goat's milk cheese I have ever eaten; creamy, mild, mouth-coatingly delicious. All washed down with the house red wine, which was not great, but hey we certainly weren't going to complain. It all was so tasty that we cleared our plates down to its very surface.
In the end, we discovered that to have real farmhouse style food you have to go to the source...most of these 'farmstead' restaurants are trying too hard to make simple food too gourmet and they are missing the point. As long as you offer simple food that is downright delicious, people will come. Or at least we will!