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AHS ‘12 Day Three & Dinner at Bondir (8/11/12)

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The one awesome thing about being totally behind on my daily posts? I can take a breather from photographing my eats this week. And that means I can eat quick, ugly, hot meals! Huzzah!

Now, let’s climb into the DeLorean and activate the flux capacitor.

Last Saturday in Carlisle, Massachusetts, we all woke up groggy, having stayed up waaay past our bedtimes frolicking at the previous night’s Sustainable Dish Farm Dinner. Nothing that a big mug of java and a plate of sausage and homemade ‘kraut couldn’t fix, though.

We zoomed in from the ‘burbs with our new friend Hilary to catch the tail end of Robb Wolf and Mark Sisson's Paleo Q & A…

…but not before stopping by the reception area to snag a box of truffles and a steaming latte from Bolt Coffee Company.

A few sessions later, we headed over to another building for a catered lunch from B. Good Burger, a local chain offering grass fed burgers. We piled our plates with meat patties, greens, tomatoes, sweet potato fries, pickles, and guacamole.

I pleasantly surprised by the quality of the catered conference eats, but everyone I spoke with at AHS who’s been to a Weston A. Price conference told me that I ain’t seen nothing yet. Is it wrong that I’m attending the 2012 Wise Traditions conference this fall mostly so I can pig out at the promised smorgasbord?

After lunch, we attended the afternoon sessions and tweeted until our thumbs went numb.

Eventually, I took a breather in the vendor area and hung out with some of my favorite Paleo foodies, including Cindy and Dusty, Diane, Bill and Hayley, Sean (the Bacon Pizza guy!) and Suzanne, Laura, Diana, and Charissa.

We wandered back into the lecture hall to soak in Denise Minger's funny and informative presentation about meat. Her slide depicting a baby-eating bunny rabbit will haunt my dreams for years to come.

Once we’d bid our friends adieu…

Diana, Henry, and I hightailed it to Bondir, a cozy Cambridge restaurant that features sustainable modern American cuisine.

After spending the day working on his farm, minding the kids, and herding them all to Kimball Farm for an afternoon of bumper-boat rides, Andrew met us at the restaurant. I’d been eagerly anticipating this meal — it’s a rare treat to be able to indulge in adult eats and conversation.

Each of the items on Bondir’s menu can be ordered either as a small appetizer or a full-sized entrée. Because I’m a piggy, I chose three small dishes and forced Henry to do the same so we could try a bunch of items. 

We shared handmade burrata served with field tomato, melon terrine and sumac granité, purslane, pickled green cucumber, garden cucumber, and confit lemon vinaigrette…

…Scituate lobster bisque filled with butter-poached lobster, potatoes Lyonnais, and chili oil…

…Maine sardine and Manila clam escabechen with kombu, cured olives, fingerling potatoes, and roasted clamato purée…

…and Scituate scallops accompanied by baby squash, fairytale eggplant, and cipollini onions, smoked Mangalitsa pancetta, and burnt eggplant purée.

For our last dish, we all ordered his ‘n hers Vermont Wagyu beef shank accompanied by carrots Salardaises, pea greens, and red wine glaze.

Diana and I split the desserts: lychee sorbet, maple almond ice cream, and juniper sorbet…

…and lemongrass chocolate panna cotta, bitter orange mostarda, Angelica gel, cocoa nibs and pistachio.

Sure, the desserts weren’t exactly Paleo, but it was a sweet end to a busy day.

Clark Farm & The Sustainable Feast in the Barn

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When our friend Diana Rodgers (of Radiance Nutrition and Sustainable Dish) invited us to stay on her family’s farm, we couldn’t say “YES!” fast enough. This was a chance to not only to spend time with Diana, Andrew, and their adorable kids, but also to see up-close how and where good food is grown. Plus, the Double-Os would be able to roam around on the farm while we attended the Ancestral Health Symposium at Harvard — win-win!

Thankfully, the Rodgers didn’t kick us out after I almost burned down their 270-year-old farmhouse within a couple of hours of arriving, because we thoroughly enjoyed our week at Clark Farm

The farm has a long and fascinating history. The charming, two-and-a-half-story white clapboard farmhouse on the property was built in the 1740s, and the cavernous wood barn dates back a hundred and fifty years. Beyond these structures lie vast, rolling green fields, lush with vegetation and rich with loamy soil. When you close your eyes and think of what a quaint New England farm should look like, what you’re picturing in your mind is Clark Farm.

Employing sustainable, organic farming methods, Clark Farm is a model of locavorism. We often don’t think about how and where our foods are sourced, or who is responsible for providing us with the freshest, healthiest ingredients. I’ll admit it: I’ve taken farmers for granted in the past — but having spent a week on Clark Farm with the Rodgers family, I saw just a little bit of the work that goes into feeding us, and I was awestruck.

Please take a moment to read Diane Sanfilippo’s post on Balanced Bites about the tour of Clark Farm that we took on Sunday morning. It perfectly captures how I feel about the importance of supporting local farms like this one. Small farmers don’t have grand expectations of great riches; they choose this path because it’s a labor of love. And it’s up to all of us to support what they do.

Clark Farm will be starting a CSA soon, so if you’re in the greater Boston area, make sure to sign up for the farm’s email newsletter

I’m also forever indebted to the Rodgers family for giving our boys an unforgettable farm experience. Every morning, the four kids — all of whom got along famously — disappeared into the fields, collecting fresh eggs, catching fish, stomping around in the barn, scurrying after the Rodgers’ dogs, Otis and Chase, and generally having a blast with each other.

They’d visit the pigs as they rooted around in the soil and shrubbery…

…the sheep and goats grazing in the pasture…

…the ducks waddling around the perimeter of the farmhouse…

…and the chickens as they foraged for grubs and laid some of the freshest oeufs we’ve ever tasted. By the way, you can also buy pastured eggs on-site at Clark Farm and they’re definitely worth the drive — even all the way from San Francisco.

There was one other huge benefit to staying with the Rodgers: We had the shortest commute to the Sustainable Feast in the Barn at Clark Farm on Friday night. Without question, the feast was THE highlight of our trip to the East Coast.

Although the skies opened up the night of the dinner, the barn gave warm and welcome shelter to the more than one hundred guests who arrived at the farm…

…including the littlest ones who scampered to and from the farmhouse.

Fittingly, Diana was a radiant host, greeting the party-goers at the barn doors…

…who were treated to the sight of a barn transformed. With lights strung up around the rafters and music by the talented QWILL, the place was gorgeous. If you didn’t know that the venue was a working barn, you’d think it was a movie set — albeit one with live goats in a pen that the guests couldn’t resist petting. (Lil-O and Diana’s daughter also entertained guests by jumping in and out of the pen — something you don’t often see at suppertime.)

The menu was written out for guests to read while they mingled, lined up at the bar, and munched on the hors d’oeuvres served by Chive

…including curried lamb kabobs in blanched greens with spicy coconut cream…

…broiled Essex claims (served with a minty pesto)…

…and an herb omelette (made with Clark Farm eggs) with housemade spicy kimchi.

Me? I strategically situated myself between the ad hoc kitchen set up in the back of the barn and the bar in the front, knowing that the servers would be sure to come my way. My favorite bite was the wild boar belly and spiced-roasted beet appetizer, which I hunted down every time I spied another platter coming my way.

The kids dressed up for the event, but stayed only for the mix-and-mingle segment of the evening.

Still, they lingered long enough to reunite with Diane and Bill and Hayley

…and greet the Norrises, Robb Wolf, Chris Kresser, and others. (No joke: When Big-O spotted Robb, his jaw dropped open. Pointing excitedly, my little Paleo fanboy asked “Can I meet ROBB WOLF?” Yes, I have him nicely brainwashed.)

The littlest ones also worked briefly at the raffle table. Who doesn’t love child labor?

Read all about the dinner (and view more photos) after the jump!

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AHS’12 Day Two (8/10/12)

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Yeesh. We got home from Boston late last night, and I’m already feeling the crush of all sorts of work-related and mommy duties to tackle — not to mention a backlog of several days worth of posts to write. 

Well, I guess I best get crackin’. Let’s pick up where we left off: Last Friday.

As you’ll recall, we were staying as the guests of Diana and Andrew Rodgers on Clark Farm, their place in Carlisle, Massachusetts. Not surprisingly, Friday’s breakfast of eggs, sweet potatoes, and cantaloupe that Diana whipped up was incredible.

The eggs were freshly collected from the chickens on the farm, and were bursting with color and flavor. 

I savored it with a steaming cup of coffee and some zesty, crunchy homemade purple cabbage sauerkraut. Diana has mad skillz in the kitchen, and it was a rare luxury to be able to just sit back and enjoy someone else’s cooking for a change.

Meanwhile, the kids were already up and running around the farm. Before we were even done with breakfast, the boys had already caught a couple of catfish in the pond.

And then, we were off to Harvard Law School for Day Two of the Ancestral Health Symposium. If you followed my Twitter feed and/or Fitbomb’s (or followed the #AHS12 tag on Twitter), you know that we tweeted furiously throughout all the presentations, so I’m not going to recap the talks again. (There are, however, a bunch of different summaries of AHS you can find online, like this one and this one.)

After all, I’m all about the food. Speaking of which, at lunchtime, we headed outside for a big catered buffet by Boston’s Blue Ribbon Bar-B-Q.

I piled a plate high with chicken, ribs, sweet potato mash, pickles, and collard greens…

…and chatted with friends while we ate.

A few more academic sessions later, we drove back out to the farm for THE social event of the conference: The Sustainable Dish Farm Dinner.

It was jaw-dropping — the barn at Clark Farm had been transformed into a rustic, glowing dining hall filled with locally-sourced food and libations. Diana’s guest list included a who’s-who among the Paleosphere, international travelers and locals alike.

With our kids running around (and in and out of the goat pen) and our friends and Paleo heroes all in the same room, I spent the night laughing and eating — my favorite activities.

I had a blast. I can’t possibly do the dinner justice in just a few sentences — so I’ll recap it in more detail (and with more photos) in my next post. Stay tuned! [UPDATED: Here’s my post on the farm dinner!]

AHS ‘12 Day One (8/9/12)

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Morning on the farm! The kids have been up for hours and already: (1) performed meaningful chores around the farm, (2) ate a big breakfast of eggs and cantaloupe, and (3) caught a catfish at the pond.

Gotta run to Day Two of AHS, so no time to post in depth about Day One. Here are just a few snapshots from yesterday.

Here’s the incredible breakfast that Diana made us:

And here’s Denise, the very first person I bumped into at AHS — and look what she’s sporting!

We met up with a bunch of our buds, including Hilary, Jude, Dave, Ann, Melissa and Dallas… 

…and headed over to Harvard Law School for the Symposium.

We ate swag bag grub…

…and spent time with friends new and old.

Best presentation of the day: Joel Salatin's inspirational speech exhorting us to break the law.

A long, fun dinner at The Blue Room with friends (Dusty and Cindy, Jules, Erin, and the Hartwigs)…

…and then it was time for bed.

Follow me on Twitter for up-to-the minute updates about AHS 12! (And follow the hashtag #AHS12 for more from others at the conference!)