I was picked up at the airport by Darla who is Jason's assistant and we hit it off right from the start. She was very surprised with the size of my suitcase that we had to load into the car and it wasn't until we opened the trunk of the SUV that I realized why she was concerned. There was a huge 165 pound frozen pig in the trunk / back seat of the car. I was in shock with what my eyes were seeing and at that moment I knew I was not in California anymore. I was about to leave my safe zone of the ATL airport and head out on a culinary adventure like no other.
I helped Darla maneuver the frozen sawed in half pig and slid my luggage right next to it. I brought Jason and Laura some cured meat from The Linkery and took it out of my luggage and placed it on top of the pig to keep it cold. I guess that worked out well.
We made our way in a car packed with a 165 frozen pig with a GOVEGGIE license plate, on a 1.5 hour drive to Athens and got acquainted on the way. One of the topics of conversation was about a Chicken Kill on Sunday morning I would be attending, and the pig in the back seat will be roasted on Saturday afternoon at the seed swap. Oh man! What have I gotten myself into? I could only nervously laugh and it was comforting that Darla laughed out loud with me as she new the culture shock I was about to experience was going to be life changing for me.
We turned down a dirt road to head to the Mann house and the site was beautiful. We were surrounded by 5 acres of forest. The sunlight through the tree's was beautiful.I love this shed which Jason's wife Laura wrote the words I love you in red but something about it in black & white is amazing to me. It caught my eye right when we pulled up.Jason, Laura, & Judah arrived right after us. This is Judah. He is beautiful.Jason and I got to it and started cooking up a feast. Darla and Laura got to it and started hanging up screens on all the doors since the bugs are a buzzing this time of year in the south....and they are BIG!
Jason put me in charge of a Greek salad which was filled with feta, olives, fresh tomatoes and red head leaf lettuce from the farm. I made a Greek salad dressing with red wine vinegar, dijon, garlic, dried oregano, and olive oil.
I helped Jason prepare a pasta dish which was a take on a carbonara pasta. It consisted of Gemelli pasta, locally grown huge shitake mushrooms, green garlic from the farm, and bacon from moonshine meats which was personally cut by Darla this last Monday. The sauce consisted of egg from a local Athens farm, parmesan cheese, lemon zest, and unpasteurized local goat milk. You add the pasta to the mushroom mixture which is sauteed with olive oil, salt and pepper and then add the egg mixture stirring it constantly which cooks the eggs and makes the sauce creamy. Jason added some pasta water to it for extra flavor and he threw in some fresh arugula from the farm which was amazingly fresh and peppery. I love pasta and greens together. I will be doing this more often.Everything so far has been so beautiful..except that pig, but I am sure I will see the beauty in it when I taste it. I can already tell this trip is going to make me see food and life differently. I think I am in for a treat here.I'm here now, I like it and its fresh.