My friend Heather — an old friend whose dirty mouth rivals my own — told me about a place. A special place. A special place where one can buy locally-raised meat, and where the animals are fed a diet conducive to healthy, happy lives while being allowed to roam free in pastures in humane conditions. When you read as much as I do about the horrors of America’s food production and its many, um, hiccups, hearing about such a place is like being told that fairies are not only real but also delicious.
So last weekend my friend Dee and I decided to investigate.
The sun was high above us and it’s warmth beat down our bare arms through the car windows as we drove through the countryside. Swarms of lovebugs slapped against my windshield as we barreled through the dirt roads toward the 400+ acre farm.
Torm, the owner of Pasture Prime and one half of the manpower behind its operation, had agreed to meet us on short notice after I’d contacted him the night prior asking if I could drop by the farm to pick up my order. Dee and I ended up spending an hour and a half with him as he gave us the tour of its operation.
“I believe in transparency,” said Torm as we drove through a large grassy field, droves of feeding cattle haring from the moving nose of Torm’s slow-moving truck. Most mooed and side-eyed us with disapproval, but one heifer kept excitedly attempting to mount the other heifers, because heifers be so cray.
***Pre-post: You might not have heard, but I’m giving away a $50 Williams Sonoma gift card! No strings attached. I won’t make you grovel for it, though I’d like to. You just have to go to this post to enter. /pre-post*** CONTEST IS CLOSED. Congratulations to the winner, Denise M., who is going to put the $50 gift card toward a dutch oven!
Okay, yes. I know. Anchovies are gross. I get it, but hear me out.
I know exactly why you’re giving me that stink face, and for the most part I’m right there with you. When anchovies are slandered high and low, with their presence in any dish a criminal offense worthy of cook’s castration, it’s hard to want to give them a chance.
When I was a kid, I offered them a chance at overcoming the libelous venom directed toward their existence in American cuisine. I ordered a pizza whose crisped mozzarella was crosshatched with slick bodies of salted anchovies and figured, how bad could they really be? That uneaten pizza has been festering in a dump somewhere for the last fifteen years.
Anchovies, to be polite, taste like grizzly bear grundle in the summer. They’re only about nine shades more favorable than sepsis, and the smell does them no kind favors either. But sometimes even the most foul of ingredients can be used for good.
Basil is usually treated as a two dimensional commodity, which is upsetting for our sensitive friend. It’s the shining star in pesto, the uniting factor in the group of pine nuts and Parmigiano, and trying to make caprese without basil is trying to conduct a chorus without harmony. It’s like John Daker singing “Amore.” It just doesn’t work, does it?
Still, basil is pretty under appreciated for what it really brings to the table. It’s asked to creep behind the veil of the savory, only being offered a supportive role when it was born to lead. If you look at what basil lends to the flavor of any particular dish, it becomes glaringly obvious how underused it is.
Sweets, man. Basil is sweet, and while its herbal sister, mint, has found glory in ice cream, candy and other sugary applications, basil is left wading in a murky red puddle of marinara and despair, seething. Basil gets no respect. But nobody puts basil in the corner. Nobody.
Recently I did a guest post for Stark Bros on Blueberry Basil Meyer Lemonade (Shout out to me!), but thought, why not chocolate? So I put it in this chocolate cake. That’s…actually the whole story. It’s anticlimactic, but what do you want from me?