Saturday, July 3, 2010

Summer Dinner at Harley Farms

Last September, after enjoying Harley Farms’ chèvre and other goat milk cheeses several times at our Cheese School of San Francisco classes, we finally had a chance to visit the farm in Pescadero and take one of their tours. While on the tour we learned that the Farm hosts periodic dinners in its beautiful loft filled with handmade furniture, and filed that away as something we definitely wanted to do.
The schedule for the Farm’s 2010 dinners came our several months ago, and we noted that they had a dinner scheduled for Saturday, June 19, which was our 39th wedding anniversary. It seemed like a great way to celebrate, so we made reservations for Nancy, me, Alex and Cass well in advance, and also booked rooms at the nearby Pescadero Creek Inn for the night.

At the beginning of June I received an email from Annie Rowden, the Farms’ marketing director, who asked if we had any dietary restrictions. A few days later we received a very nice personalized invitation indicating that we could expect duck - one of my favorites!

Just after noon on the 19th Nancy and I picked up Alex and Cass in San Francisco and made the very easy drive down to Pescadero via 280, 92 across the Santa Cruz Mountains, thru Half Moon Bay and down the coast.
We checked in at the Pescadero Creek Inn where Nancy and I had the secluded Garden Cottage, and Alex and Cass the Spring Room.
It was still too early to go to the Farms, so we took a walk through Pescadero, picking up some warm artichoke bread at the Arcangeli Grocery Store, and then stopping by Duarte’s for a piece of their famous olallieberry pie. At 4:00 we made our way to Harley Farms, only about 1/2 mile down North Street. We were met by Annie who gave us some lemonade and cheese while we waited near the edible flower garden (the petals are used to decorate the cheeses) for the entire group to gather.
We started off with a visit to the baby goats that were born this Spring. They are segregated from their mothers in an separate pasture and watched over by a couple of large guard-llamas which keep away predators.
We then entered the main pasture and spent some time with the stars of the Harley Farms operation who were impatiently waiting to be taken to the barn for their evening milking. One has to be on guard as the “ladies” enjoy nibbling on stray ends of clothing if you are not careful.
We also met Cadbury, the lone male in the herd who, while retired from his stud duties and looking a bit worse for wear, still enjoys a good deal of female attention.
Then it was off for a quick walk through the milking barn and a visit to the cheese making room where we were able to enjoy the high fashion of Harley Farms.
Finally it was time for dinner. We mounted the stairs to the loft where we found the table set for our party of 20 or so. After uncorking the wines we had brought with us, we made our way to our seats.
We had not been seated for long when we were told that the goats were going to moved from the pasture into the barn for their evening milking and that we could go down to watch.
Here are two videos, the first showing the goats moving with haste on their way to the barn (all except Cadbury who seemed to have other things on his mind), and the second showing the milking in full swing.

Back in the loft we enjoyed the following four courses, all of which were excellent (even the beets which I generally just push around on my plate):

~ Fresh beets with goat cheese and puff pastry;
~ Goat ricotta-stuffed ravioli with braised chard;
~ Roast duck with potatoes and vegetables; and
~ Fresh ricotta with raspberries and honey.
Wine is not served with the meal so we had brought along a few bottles - a Chardonnay from Gundlach Bundschu in Sonoma, a Pinot Noir from Domaine Serene in Oregon, and a Il Blu from Brancaia in Tuscany.

Dee Harley (in the orange scarf in the below photos), the Farm's owner, was present for the entire evening to describe the courses and to lend a hand to dish up the meal.
Fortunately after our large dinner we did not have far to travel to get back to the Inn. The next morning, after a walk we had a very nice breakfast at the Inn, then we followed the signs back to Harley Farms our way home to pick up a bit more cheese.
The only minor disappointment of the trip was that we had forgotten to bring with us on Saturday some lemon cupcakes from Teeny Cake that we recently discovered at the Sausalito Farmers Market and really like. As the company’s name suggests, their products are miniature cupcakes which, while small, have great flavor.
Nancy had picked up four on Saturday morning and we were planning to enjoy them as a mini-snack on the drive down to Pescadero. On the plus side, Nancy and I had two each when we got home. Sorry Alex and Cass!

Harley Farms is a wonderful place to visit, whether you go for one of their formal tours or one of the dinners, or just stop by to pick up some cheese and look at the goats. I anticipate being back there often in the future.

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