Last week the Enegren Brewing Crew was invited to visit a local biodynamic farm – Apricot Lane.
John and Molly Chester, the managers and owners, had come into the brewery the week before to try the beers and after learning that they ran this soon-to-be certified organic farm, I threatened to withhold serving them any more beer unless given the option to go see the place. They readily agreed.
John and Todd, his beautiful blue-eyed pup, greeted us at the barn.
We immediately occupied ourselves with petting the guardians of the sheep – Basil and Sage. They spend days and nights protecting the sheep and goats from devilish, hungry coyotes.
These Great Pyrenees were ridiculously filthy and affectionate. Those two things combined made for some dirty jeans when they jumped on you. Well worth it.
We were introduced to the sheep next. This is Special. Special is…well, special. He was born with an unknown neurological disorder and has difficulties standing and walking, but has managed to overcome the odds so far and survive.Brie took an immediate liking to the little guy.
The goats were roaming around in the same pasture.
“Hey. Hey, whatcha got there?”
“Can I…can I see it?”
“Can I…can I eat it?”
We left Special asleep in the sun and trekked over to the barn.
Inside the big barn we came across these giants. Highland cattle – the baby in the background is being weaned from her mama, so she lives with her aunt for the time being.
Next up were the chicks. The cute phase above…
The not as cute teenage phase…
And the grown-up phase. These lucky chickens have a HUGE green pasture they roam about as well as a handmade coop they can seek shelter in. This farm has about ten to fifteen volunteers, known as WWOOFers, who live on the farm for three months at a time and are given room and board in exchange for working and learning about organic lifestyles. Interested? Check out WWOOF for more information. I’m quite tempted to go for it myself…
Johnny and Frankie are the two draft horses of the farm. They’ll be pulling the carriage about the farm once Apricot Lane begins giving tours. I’m just gonna put this out there now, but if there need to be any trial runs, I’m willing to help out and ride along…
How photogenic is he?
We rode up the hill on the back of the farm’s electric carts and took in the beautiful view.
Mama Highland and her hubs. Apparently she’s not very friendly to begin with, but now that her baby has been separated from her while she weans, she’s really pissed off. We kept our distance. Those horns don’t look like much fun to deal with.
The edge of the farm has yet another amazing view. The EBC crew was completely bowled over by how beautiful this place is.
Todd, gazing out over the horizon, keeping an eye out for coyotes.
We hopped back on the shuttle and were taken on a tour of the rest of the farm. 130 acres of fruit trees – apricots, apples, cherries, pluots, apriums, avocados and dozens of other varieties.
(Picture taken from Apricot Lane Farm’s Facebook)
John and Molly (and Mallory), thank you so much for showing us your beautiful farm, AND for the most delicious eggs I’ve ever tasted. I can’t wait to go back and visit again – soon!
Check out Molly’s blog Organic Spark for amazing photography, recipes and details on how to live an organic lifestyle.
I haven’t given Custom Melt the full post it deserves yet – mainly because I end up devouring my sammich before I remember that I should be taking pictures. Last Sunday, they began serving breakfast. I was happy to be the first in line.
Beckers wantin’ brekkers!
I’ll admit that I was extremely tempted to get a Crispy Chicken sammich (my current go-to/obsession) but was talked out of it by my dining companion.
A view of the counter where the magic happens. And take my word, this place creates magic!
We started out with the necessities. Coffee…
And breakfast chips! Delicate fried tortillas sprinkled with cinnamon sugar!
Commander Matt got the Breakfast Brioche. Choose ham, bacon or sausage? CHOOSE? No, I made him get all three.
Instructions: Crush sammich with fist and slice in half. Not quite as pretty-looking but this is, without a doubt, the BEST breakfast sammich either of us has ever consumed. The lemon aioli adds a tangy, glorious twist to your not-so-traditional breafkast sammich, slicing through the rich cheeses and creamy egg yolk. More, please.
I went for one of my all-time favorite breakfast dishes and got the pastrami hash topped with two over-easy eggs. Perfectly seasoned soft potatoes laced with hints of pepper and studded with thick chunks of pastrami. Absolutely wonderful, but I’m still hooked on that freaking sammich. Dang, now I want another one…
After breakfast, we realized that plain and simple coffee Just. Wouldn’t. Do it.
Oh yes. Coffee + Daniel Irons Oatmeal Stout + whipped cream + a little more Daniel Irons = THIS. Out of this world goodness! And it has oatmeal in it, so it’s officially a breakfast beer!
WHEN you go into Custom Melt, ask for a Daniel Irons – Missoura Style. If Thomas and Phil give you a blank look, tell them you want the coffee/stout thing that Matt and Becki are obsessed with. That oughta do it.
When we got back Sunday night after the CBC12, I was definitely in need of a little detox.
…which would have to wait until Monday to begin.
Commander Matt and I headed to Cafe Firenze, an Italian restaurant in Moorpark, for a meeting with the chef Adam and the owner Jacopo, and took along a few gift bottles to share.
We brought them with the intent of letting the chef do a tasting, but somehow the bottle wound up getting opened at a table when they invited us to stay for dinner.
Cafe Firenze is located within a strip mall off of Los Angeles Avenue. Very unassuming from the front, excluding the rich velvet drapes and wine barrels, the inside is spacious and warm with high ceilings, dim lighting and soft cushions in each booth.
The menu is extensive and impossible to choose from, but somehow we managed.
We started off with their appetizer special – swordfish carpaccio with artichoke hearts and greens, drizzled with olive oil. Since we had those three bottles with us, a pairing was in order. The tart and dry Golden Spur Saison balanced out the pickled artichoke hearts and didn’t overwhelm the delicate flavor of the tender swordfish.
I went for the braised shortribs – Kobe beef that was so tender it fell apart if you looked at it too intensely topped with sauteed mushrooms and resting atop a fragrant cushion of polenta spiked with parmesan cheese and herbs.
Commander Matt went with the other special of the day – medium rare medallions of beef with roasted baby vegetables. Simple, elegant and mouthwateringly delicious. Both of our main courses were paired with Valkyrie California Alt – the sweet maltiness brought out the caramelization of the meat and balanced out the salty bite of parmesan from my polenta.
Adam, the chef, sent out this piece of artwork for our dessert – flourless chocolate cake with housemade vanilla bean gelato on top. Out of this world! We paired this with the Protector IPA, the hop bitterness cutting through the rich chocolate and calming the upfront sweetness.
Next time I’m there – Balsamic martini. Most definitely.
563 West Los Angeles Avenue
Moorpark, California 93021
Open Tuesday to Sunday from 11am-3pm and 5pm-close